Penman Hat Company
I'm one of your newer Fedora Chronicles Members (and an existing member of a few other Fedora-Themed Web Communities). Please know in advance: I'm no professional writer or reviewer. Despite that fact, I'd like to take a few minutes to give a little bit of a detailed Review of my experience in ordering a hat from The Penman Hat Co. Not only because I'd like to say my piece about the hat that John Penman ultimately sent me, but because the level of professionalism and customer service John's extends to his client merits mentioning.
I was already learning a lot about the mechanics of what it takes to make a great fedora before I'd even heard of The Penman Hat Co. (I'd been looking into ordering from a few well-known, more "high profile" custom hatters) but I was far from inexperienced on the subject of the color and shape of the hat that suited MY very specific - and picky - preferences. Suddenly, I wandered onto some info about - and praise for - this young, energetic hat maker named John Penman and the Beaver Fedoras on which he was building his reputation.
I'd long wanted a grey fedora similar to the "lesser used" hat worn by Actor Harrison Ford in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (the "travelling fedora" he wears while boarding the Seaplane shortly into Indy's quest to find the Ark). John was very accommodating in sharing information, his opinions and even pictures of the various felt colors he used and I was very with his preferred choice of beaver fur felt color for MY hat. Also worth mentioning was how reasonable - and affordable - his pricing was given the quality of the hat he seemed able to deliver.
So, I placed my order.
Communication with John was effortless and trouble-free, not only because he could easily be reached (or return calls and messages by phone or e-mail) quickly and often... but also because as a Member, he frequents a number of extremely popular "fedora-themed" websites (like THIS one). Bottom Line: You can get a hold of Mr. Penman, should the need arise.
John's estimate for the arrival date of my finished hat was right on target. He knows his schedule and seems to do everything humanly possible to abide by it. As a result, the "wait" seemed almost like no wait at all (but frankly, if I could've known THEN what hat I'd eventually get, I'd have been only too happy to wait even longer.)
My Penman Raiders Seaplane arrived on a Tuesday (in the middle of an unexpected blizzard, no less) ...I think the guy who delivered it instinctively knew that my noggin' needed it's lid and he was ready to brave the snow to get it to me!)
So, the SHORT REVIEW goes like this: John Penman is making beautiful, BEAUTIFUL hats, my friends. I LOVE it! The felt... the look and the feel of it... the ribbon and that gorgeous, meticulously PERFECT bow!
The fit? PERFECT. (When it went on my head, I swear I think I hear a perfect "shooomp" sound.)
I wear this hat EVERY day and John has a customer - and a fan - for life.
Now, for those of you who'd like some details, here's a few extra notes:
Penman Hat Co. "Bicycle" Logo:
It appears on the box, the hat liner, John's business cards and an ownership card which came included with the hat. It's pure class. Just a gorgeous visual that says "quality and craftsmanship that nods to our history while remaining timeless".
The Shape of the Hat:
The look of it. The crown, the curl and swoop of the brim... all PERFECT. Everything I'd asked for him to capture in this hat. I don't like taper in a hat, it's just not to my tastes. I expressed this to John and he delivered. I'm not sure how John developed such a nice block, but it's given me the exact shape in a hat that I wanted so badly.
The Color of the Hat:
I wanted the color grey that (when photographed or filmed in different lights) can cause arguments among some as to exactly WHAT color they're actually seeing: Is it grey? A light, smokey brown? A tan/grey/sable/ash..."something"? I WANTED that ambiguity... John showed me a beaver felt color that seemd up to the job. As I now wear it on my head, I can safely say that it DOES.
It's very soft, lush and... y'know, I don't know how ELSE to say it except to say that it feels VERY "expensive". Having already owned a rabbit fedora, I knew beforehand that John's hat wouldn't (couldn't) feel as soft, "smooshy" and floppy as IT did. But a member on another website once commented that John's hats are "buttery soft" and said that he couldn't begin to guess how long he'd spent pouncing the felt. My thoughts exactly... I couldn't agree more.
The Fit of the Hat:
Again, ONE word: "Shooomp"
John clearly spent some time seeking out what seems to be a VERY special, seemingly vintage yet TOP quality ribbon that's both deep and rich in it's color and texture. Gorgeous.
It warrants mentioning that I'm a REALLY fussy customer when it comes to this subject. For some (thankfully very few) people - hat makers and wearers alike - the bow on a hat is almost an afterthought... or, at least it SEEMS that way. Almost as if some think it's just a quirky little design feature that you put on the ribbon because, well... I mean, it's a hat with a ribbon on it, so of course you need some kind of little "bow" on it. Listen to me, it's not easy to admit... but I'm a BOW NAZI. For ME, it's got to be just PERFECT. In my opinion, every fold, every ripple or dimple has to be there on purpose and NOT have the appearance that the hatmaker said "well, the material was kinda' lyin' there like that so we stiched it down that way".
John's bows are little works of art. Quite simply, there are only two other people who I think make bows THAT nice... and their hats have been worn by Harrison Ford himself.
In the end I had an easy, effortless and enjoyable business transaction featuring service that was second to none from a guy who kept me "in the loop" and I wound up with a beautiful hat (delivered ON TIME) that I'll always wear and that I get unending compliments on and to top it all off: my wife thinks I've never been better looking! (I gotta' tell ya, I HATE taking this thing OFF at the end of the day.)
So I ask you, how am I NOT going to recommend PENMAN HATS?
Thanks John, you're the Best!