Article in The Sunday Business Post 18th Feb 2010

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John Shevlin: Milliner.
You don’t need a hat for an occasion.
It’s very practical, it keeps you warm and you do turn heads when you wear it.
The majority of my customers are female, although I do see an increase in men looking for hats.
Men make up about 20 per cent of my business.
The word milliner originated from Milan.
It was a big centre for hat making.
I began making hats thanks to my late father.
He started a hat factory in Malahide in the 1960s. The clothing industry in Dublin was a big employer then, but not so much now.
I export my hats.
I’ve had a massive order from Japan.
Hats are making a comeback.
They did go away in the 1970s and 1980s.Then Lady Di came on the scene andreinvented the hat industry in England.

Men tend to be conservative
and go for a black hat.
With ladies It’s different.
They’ll happily wear different colours. I’m trying to get men to go away from black and I’ve succeeded with quite a few.
A lot of people come into me saying, ‘I can never get a hat to fit’.
There’s no problem with that -I can make one up specially for them.
One customer came into me saying that he and his wife always bought their hats in London as they could never get one to fit here.
Then he found out about me.
With the recession, people are accessorising more now.
They’re thinking of ways to look different, to look better.
Rather than buy a whole new outfit, they can look different with a hat.
I’ve been working on hats that have taken, between
coffee breaks, two or three days.
But I could do one in
two or three hours depending on the style.
Very often, people don’t know what they’re looking for.
One lady had never worn a hat before and was saying, ‘I
don’t know what hat would suit me’. We tried on every different
shape and she found one that did.
Some shapes are better for some people.
If I take into account a person’s height, the shape of their face and what they’re wearing, I can immediately say: ‘This one won’t do you any favours’. I won’t sell you a hat that doesn’t look right.
The Panama hat is something I want to specialise In . more.
The best quality Panama is made from theToquilla plant,
which originates in Ecuador.
One of my customers asked me where was the best
place to keep her hat.
Of course, I said: ‘On your head’.
Treat your hat with care
it’ll last a long time.
You’d often see hats in the back windows of cars.
The sun softens the material and it gets discoloured. Try not to do that.
Interview: David Clerkin Picture: Feargal Ward

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