For the past seven years, I have always worn a hat. Not a cap or bunnet or bobble hat. A proper, brimmed fedora. The first time you wear such a hat you can feel quite conspicuous but now it feels, to me, like second nature. It’s become part of my self-image. I think of myself as a hatted man.
The idea of shooting hats, though, came about almost by accident. I photographed my fedora on a whim to use as a visual signature on correspondence. Even without my scrawl at the bottom, the men from O Street – who have also been known to wear a hat or two in their time – would know it was from me.
Most hats are designed for wearing outside, and the exterior has to be durable enough to survive wind, rain or, if you’re a soldier, even more rough-and-tumble conditions. It gets battered and bumped, and is always visible to the outside world. But the interior is a far more intimate space. It’s soft folds of silk, cushioning and protective. Working, walking, whatever you’re doing … you’ll leave an imprint on the headband, a sweaty shadow of your toil. That’s the part that fascinates me. Wear a hat every day and you wear a little bit of it away.