The Brief History of the Beanie Hat


The Beanie Hat: How it Became the Most Adored and Must-Have Accessory

Beanie hats the history

Keeping warm has been a human necessity since the dawn of time. Before the discovery of antibiotics and advancements in what we now call modern medicine we take for granted today, catching a cold or flu 100 years ago could mean certain death! 

So in many ways, the hat started out as an essential accessory for the purpose of staying healthy and alive. Of course, over time the hat has evolved more and more to become a now fashion accessory and symbol of status in many cultures.

One of the first hats that we know of today was work by a Bronze Age man (nicknamed Ötzi) who lived around 3250 BC! His body and hat were found frozen in a mountain somewhere closer to Italy and Austria. His hat was made of bearskin and even had a chin strap, presumably to stop it falling off when he was hunting wild beasts! The hat he wore resembled somewhat a Russin fur hat without the flaps made of several hides stitched together!

Nowadays the styles of hats you can choose from ranging from contemporary to traditional is almost endless. Beanie, Booble, Flat, Baseball, Boater, Boonie, Busby and Cartwheel are to name but just a few! 

Hat design has come a long way since the Bronze Age and one hat that stands out from the crowd and risen in popularity since the 12th century is the stylish beanie hat!

The Beanie hat, which represents a style of hat fitting closely to the head, first originated in 12th century Wales.

Yes, your beloved beanie is THAT old! But how did the beanie hat we now know and love become what it is today?

In the Beginning was the Monmouth Cap

The beanie goes by many names: toque, cap, skullcap, stocking cap, dink, bobble hat, bobble cap. But the first time there was written documentation of this style of hat, that wrapped the head, was in 12th century Wales. 

It was called known as The Monmouth Cap after the town it was manufactured in, and it was the early precursor to the trendy accessory we all know and love today. The Monmouth Cap not only fit closely to the head but it also had a button at the top!

In fact, The Monmouth cap is the ancestor of today’s bobble hat, replacing the button with a pom-pom.

Velvet was first used to produce the Monmouth caps but it was soon realised, that wool was a more affordable and sturdier fabric. Over time the materials ranged from cloth to wool and they even started to add felt, to ensure it was fully waterproof. No wonder soldiers and workers loved it - it kept them warm and dry, and kept their hair back so it wouldn’t get keep falling across their faces. Indeed, not only was it stylish, but it was a very practical accessory for the times.

The Beanie Hat Takes the World by Storm: 1200s-1900s

beanie hats bobble hats and accessories

With the colonization of the Americas, the beanie hat found its way to what is now Canada and the USA. At first, only men wore them as they worked outdoors in harsh conditions. As the beanie hat has no brim, it made it easier for the workers to do their job, and stay warm. The practicality of the beanie hat was essential. However, fashion trends slowly changed and both women and men started wearing black velvet toques, a type of beanie hat. Women’s toques were sometimes even laced with fur, lace, bows, flowers, and even leaves. How chic were those! 

Workers, College Students and Hippies Love the Beanie Hat: 1900s - Early 2000s

With the development and growth of global industries, the industrial revolution, and rise of the blue-collar worker, many found what they needed in the beanie hat. It was not only stylish and cool but was practical across many different types of labor-intensive jobs. 

However, by the 1940s the beanie hat had become outdated. The baseball cap was simply more practical as its long brim protected the eyes from the sun and dust. Nevertheless, the beanie hat remained popular with college students at the time as well as beat poets, hippies and vagabonds, rocking them well into the 1960s. The beanie hat, although pushed out of the fashion mainstream, were still important people in the alternative scenes and subcultures.

Yet, by the 1990s, it made a huge come-back into the mainstream. 

More and more females started to don the beanie hat. Sporting figures started wearing these hats too, further increasing their popularity dramatically. It became a quality accessory for the young, cool and hip. Anyone doing sport, traveling, or simply just chilling and having a good time with their friends and family wore the beanie hat!

Can’t Live Without the Beanie Hat: 2010s and Onwards

While you’d recognize the traditional woolen beanie hat by its grey and dark tones, the 2010s brought on a new trend. Beanie hats, especially those manufactured here at Zaini, became mnore colorful, fun, and bright. And for Zaini, something that is even more important is ensuring our handmade hats are as comfortable as they are cool. 

Don’t you just hate that itch you get every time you put on a traditional beanie hat? Wool is great but it can really irritate the skin and the scalp. That is why we use soft acrylic to prevent itching as well as ensuring we create the softest and most comfortable hats in the UK for you. 

Beanies are no longer simply reserved for blue-collar workers, hippies and college kids. Anyone can wear and look awesome in a beanie hat! 

Grandmothers give them to their grandkids, friends exchange them as birthday and Christmas gifts, campers love the comfort and warmth they provide, mountain climbers appreciate the colorful design for mountain safety and their waterproof qualities… And travelers just adore the fact that they can look great and stay warm while roaming new cities, discovering new countries, and exploring new wild frontiers.

You don’t even have to wear it just from winter to spring. The soft materials and fun designs mean beanies are not only a great winter accessory, but can also make a fashion statement all the year-round! 

A Long Road

It’s been a long road from the rough dark woolen hats reserved for workers, hippies and geeks, to the bright, colourful and fun hat everyone knows and loves today. 

The question is, what’s next for the beanie hat?

Well here at Zaini we believe a bright future lies ahead for the beanie hat. Rest assured, the beanie has been with us since the 12th century and is still in fashion today. That’s 800 years of evolution, here’s to the next 800 years!

Check out Zaini’s awesome range of Beanie caps here, and come join the Zaini Revolution!

beanie hats uk




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