It’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it feels particularly apropos when you have an industry as subjective as fashion. We’ve got opinions—it’s why so many of the most divisive items in existence have been the subject of heated arguments, fashion think pieces, and nationwide debates. The Croc is, obviously, one example, as is the Ugg boot, along with fanny packs and chunky “dad” sneakers. But unlike the aforementioned offenders, the latest hasn’t completely made its comeback, despite its many previous attempts to be a thing: the bucket hat.
To be fair, it wasn’t invented with aesthetic in mind. The bucket hat was first conceived in the early 1900s as a purely functional item worn by Irish farmers and fishermen as protection from the rain, which was made possible by its wide downward-slanting brim. The fact that it can be folded to fit inside a pocket was also a major appeal. A few decades later, a standard-issue style made from olive drab cotton fabric was used to protect the necks of troops in the 1940s and during the Vietnam War from the ‘50s to the ‘70s.
But it was at the height of the mod movement in the ‘60s that the bucket hat transitioned from a functional piece to a fashionable one, with styles that eschewed traditional cotton or tweed for felt or stiff fabrics that captured the spirit of the decade.
Fast-forward to the ‘80s and the hip-hop community saw immense potential in bucket hats (some would argue that the bucket introduced rappers to the world of headwear), with many embracing the style on album covers and in music videos. The first bucket hat-wearing rapper was widely said to be Big Bank Hank of Sugar Hill Gang, who wore one during a 1979 performance of “Rapper’s Delight” on the TV show Soap Factory (which also marked the first-ever recorded music video), and it promptly launched a phenomenon, spurring others to embrace the hat, including Run-DMC in 1984 (the group’s headwear collection was so extensive, they were never seen without a bucket, a fedora, or a panama hat perched atop their heads), LL Cool J in 1985 (like who could ever forget his red Kangol bucket hat), and Jay-Z in 2000.
Despite the rappers’ ringing endorsement, how did bucket hats earn such a bad rap? Unlike other types of headwear like beanies, fedoras, berets, or Greek fishermen hats (aka the supermodels’ preferred hat), buckets never quite reached the same level of mainstream appeal. Perhaps it’s because of its utilitarian roots or the fact that it’s inextricably linked with dorky, less-than-cool onscreen characters, like Bob Denver, the actor whose uniform included a white bucket hat during the three seasons he played the bumbling, goofy castaway Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island from 1964 to 1967. Or when it was Tim Allen’s next-door neighbor Wilson’s only identifier during the eight season-long TV show Home Improvement from 1991 to 1999.
Either way, bucket hats were dismissed and mocked by the fashion set after the ‘90s, though Miuccia Prada made a solid attempt at bringing it back when she sent out slimmed-down bucket hats rendered in peacock feathers and allover sparkles on the Spring/Summer 2005 runway. A decade later, Rihanna’s BFF Melissa Forde launched M$$ X WT, a line dedicated to bucket hats, for Opening Ceremony (Rihanna was, of course, on-hand to model a few).
Even so, the attitude toward the bucket hat hadn’t really shifted until this season when a rush of designers—like overwhelmingly so—all collectively decided that the controversial style was in for Spring/Summer 2018. Matthew Adams Dolan gave his version extra flop with an extended brim in khaki and pinstripes. Rihanna broadcasted her love for the style when she finished Slick Woods’ look with a navy hat that featured a hot pink logo-laden strap at Fenty x Puma, while Michael Kors delivered a varied assortment of all types of colors and textiles, including light blue tweed one with a frayed edge, a lavender and white leafy print, and more. But it was Karl Lagerfeld who brought it back to its functional roots, rain-proofing it with see-through plastic at Chanel.
The men’s collections also saw their fair share of buckets, like denim ones at Louis Vuitton and printed styles in red and violet at Lanvin for Spring/Summer 2018, and most recently, buckets in every color and print on the Valentino Spring/Summer 2019 runway. Blame ‘90s nostalgia and the industry’s continued fascination with normcore (and its utilitarian-driven derivative, gorpcore), but after years of lying low, it finally looks as though it’s the bucket hat’s turn in the spotlight.END
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createdAt:Wed, 27 Jun 2018 16:32:00 +0000
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