PANAMA: STRAW HATS AND TAX EVASION – Levine Hat Co.

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In honor of the release of the now notorious "Panama Papers" (http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/04/world/panama-papers-explainer/), today we'll share a fun fact about the famous "Panama hat."  

"Panama" hats are light weight hats made of stiff straw, that have a tight weave with little to no spacing between fibers.  Though they can be made from coconut fibers, and certain types of paper and synthetic fibers, traditionally the straw used in the making of a "Panama" is toquilla straw.

 

Oddly enough, "Panama" hats are not an indigenous product of Panama.  In fact, they are indigenous to another tropical nation, Ecuador. There, the tradition of weaving these hats has been passed down for centuries, and is still done today in the traditional ways.  (Watch UNESCO's documentary on this protected cultural hertiage here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05SVODoIg4s.)

 

As far as the hat's connection to the current "Panama Papers" scandal that is rocking governments across the globe, one only needs to do a quick Google search for "(world leader's name) in a Panama hat" to find that prominent, rich, influential men have been visiting the Central American nation, and sporting its namesake fashion item, for a long, long, long time.

 

-Brendan J. Lambert

 

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