The true origin of Panama hats is in Ecuador


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The Central American country is not to blame, although it was undoubtedly a great ally to make them known worldwide. But it is time to claim the truth. We talked about those known as Panama hats, whose real origin is in Ecuador.

It was during the construction of the Panama Canal when the use of this Ecuadorian handicraft became popular, with producers who, motivated by the favorable commercial conditions offered by their northern neighbor, did not hesitate to bring their products to sell them there .

Declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco, this handicraft is worked with toquilla straw, a palm fiber grown in several Latin American countries . For this reason there are others where they are also made, although the palm (never better) is taken by Ecuador for creating the best and being the world's largest producer.

Un artesano trabaja en un sombrero de paja toquilla en la ciudad de Cuenca, Ecuador.

A craftsman works in a toquilla straw hat in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. © Getty Images

The Andean city of Cuenca is the most active, while those of the Pacific coast, such as Montecristi and Pile, dispute being the ones that sign the best ones. The entire manufacturing process is done by hand and can last for weeks or even months.

This means that the most exclusive can cost up to € 25, 000 in online stores such as Brent Black . If you travel to Ecuador you can find them in shops and craft markets in the main cities, but one tip: never ask for a Panama hat, ask for a straw hat. Show that you know what you mean.

* This report was published in number 117 of the Condé Nast Traveler Magazine (May) . Subscribe to the print edition (11 printed numbers and digital version for € 24.75, by calling 902 53 55 57 or from our website) and enjoy free access to the digital version of Condé Nast Traveler for iPad. The May Condé Nast Traveler number is available in its digital version to enjoy on your preferred device.