Sad Hatter: Iconic Fedora Designer Goes Bankrupt

After 160 years in the hat-making business, Italian company Borsalino is bankrupt. To its credit were some of the most famed caps the world has seen.

Photo credit: John Griffiths

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story attributed the Indiana Jones hat design to Borsalino, which is not correct. Borsalino supplied the felt used to make the fedora in some of the films. The original hat design and construction is credited to Herbert Johnson, and later to Adventurebilt.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, and you never, ever touch Indiana Jones’s hat. The dusty brown fedora made famous by Harrison Ford’s globe-trotting adventure character was undoubtedly one of the most iconic apparel pieces of all time.

But that wasn’t enough to prevent Borsalino, an Italian hat manufacturer that supplied the dun-colored felt used for the fedora, from going insolvent. On Monday, a court in Alessandria, Italy, refused a proposed rescue plan for the business, according to Reuters.

Borsalino Bankrupt

According to reports, Borsalino owed more than $21 million to creditors. And though the company turned a profit within the last few years, its monetary woes began in 2013.

Private equity firm Haeres Equita purchased the brand in 2015 with hopes of turning the business around. And despite initial approval by a judge last year of Haeres Equita’s repayment plan, the court ultimately rejected it and threw out a second plan submitted within the last few weeks, according to The Telegraph.

Although prospects appear grim, sources involved in the company remained hopeful for a solution.

“We will remain committed to finding solutions that will preserve this iconic brand and the interest of all stakeholders,” Philippe Camperio, financier and head of Haeres Equita, said in a statement. “We hope to continue to build a future for Borsalino.”

For the time being, operations will continue at Borsalino, which employs 134 people and turns out about 150,000 hats per year.

Borsalino Hats: Blues Brothers, Casablanca, Rihanna

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

The Borsalino lids made cameos from the last millennium and into this one. The cast of characters to tip this cap span generations: from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca to singer/producer Pharrell Williams, from John Belushi in Blues Brothers to singer Rihanna.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie – from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it’s outside, it’s worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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