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The Ultimate Accessory

Third-Generation Hat Shaper Parker Thomas Carries on a Family Legacy

Article by Rochelle Reeder

Photography by Parker Thomas, Meredith Diamond Photography, Jensen Sutta Photography

Originally published in Colorado Springs Lifestyle

Historically, the hat has been the ultimate accessory. Whether serving a functional purpose or expressing status, it has unarguably become known as a form of self-expression. Indiana Jones’ brown fedora, Charlie Chaplain’s bowler, Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker, Jack Sparrow’s tricorne are all iconic hats in cinema that helped their wearers portray a specific character. In the same vein, Winston Churchill’s Homburg, Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe, Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap and Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat have all made their way into the history books.

Hats also have an important place in the workspace. A chef wears a toque, a ship captain wears a peaked cap, a train conductor is known for his blue-and-white striped engineer’s cap, and a ranch worker wears a cowboy hat.      

Craftsmanship + Legacy

Today, many of these hats, as well as a number of others, have become staples of fashion as well as function. As fast-fashion has served a generation focused on instant gratification, it has obscured the overall craftsmanship that used to be a staple surrounding these accessories.

Parker Thomas is a third-generation hat shaper who apprenticed under his grandfather and father.

Hat shaping was not Thomas’s anticipated profession of choice, initially. His post-graduate plans changed and then after his grandfather passed away, he was left to evaluate the importance of carrying on the legacy and the trade.

Hats by Parker Thomas was established in 2021 and employs a small team of fewer than ten people. They staff two brick-and-mortar locations as well as a mobile truck to take the entire operation on the road for private events.

A hatmaker was originally referred to as a milliner. The name was used to describe a resident of Milan, Italy, who crafted bespoke headpieces. Their goal was to create the right accessory, specific to their client in fit and feature, to adequately articulate their status and personal expression.

Old Trade, Made New

Thomas has taken a generations-old trade and brought it into the 21st century.

He starts with high-quality hats – no fast-fashion here; these hats are chosen for their durability. The team helps clients choose hats that fit based on face shape, coloring, comfortability and personal style. Then, the hat is personally fitted to each client using special foam and a steamer. Once the foundation is set, the customization begins.

Thomas’s most notable departure from traditional hat shaping is his ability to shape the crowns of each hat. In addition to “The Cattleman,” he is able to craft letters, pictures and other unique shapes into the crown of the hat, giving true meaning to craftsmanship and customization. Clients are able to add hat bands, pins, stitches and other accoutrements to further customize their choices. Lastly, custom burning and branding gives that overall weathered look to finish the piece off and make it truly one-of-a-kind.

Thomas and his team deal in quality and legacy by providing a unique experience and tangible memories.   

The urban cowboy is alive and well and his name is Parker Thomas.

Facebook: @HatsByParkerThomas