Legend has it that at the inauguration of the Panama Canal in 1914, the President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, wearing one of the Ecuadorian Montecristi fine toquilla straw hats, was photographed and the press called the hat “Panama Hat”. Another version says that Roosevelt could not pronounce «Montecristi» and it was easier for him to say Panama Hat. We may never know the true reason for the loss of his name and origin.
Few know that it is made in Ecuador. In the Pile commune, in the Montecristi canton, in the Manabi province. Declared as an appellation of origin of Ecuador in 2009 and since 2012 Inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
With only 700 inhabitants left in Pile, due to the forced migration of artisans who leave their town to seek new opportunities in large cities, considering that their crafts are not valued or an economic means to survive. The town is slowly being forgotten. Most of its inhabitants are elderly people.
According to anthropologists, the ritual of weaving was passed down from generation to generation, but today young people do not want to learn to weave because they cannot find an identity, they do not find continuity in their culture.
Due to lack of identity, the continuity of the toquilla culture could be lost forever. Its real name has been erased from history for more than a century. The craft is been abandoned. Its toquilla crops crops are beginning to be affected by the lack of field work. Its art could be lost… forever.
MOMA, Museum of Modern Art of New York, included the Montecristi hat in its 2017 exhibition ««Is fashion modern?.» For the exhibit, a 34″ grade straw hat was handmade, a very rare and unique fine hat. Holger Carranza, traditional weaver handcraft from Pile was present in the exhibit in New York with expert curator Hugo Gonzenbach.
My name is Montecristi is a concept of cultural responsibility that seeks to make art and the craftsman visible.
The campaign has as main beneficiaries the Montecristi toquilla straw hat artisan men and women, traditional weavers from the Pile commune, in the Montecristi county, where the finest hats are produced.
Thank you for knowing the real story and helping us change history and thus return the true Ecuadorian identity to the Montecristi hat.
Their future is in our hands. As the future of the Montecristi fine hat is in their hands. As more people know this story, we will rescue the true identity. As more people share this story, we will keep alive a traditional art that today is a world heritage site.
This story took 100 years to reach you. Make it yours and share it. Let everyone know that there are many hats, but only in Pile, Ecuador are the finest toquilla straw hats in the world woven.
The first worldwide campaign to give the name back to the most recognized and valued artisan product in Ecuador. Thank you for knowing the real story and helping us change history and thus return the true Ecuadorian identity to the Montecristi hat.