The Homburg has had a greater impact on men’s fashion in the 20th and 21st centuries than nearly any other piece of hat wear. Today, the Homburg hat is worn by both men and women, continuing its legacy as a popular and fashionable accessory. However, the term “Homberg hat” is not widely known among the general populace, despite the impact and popularity of the style. Naturally, this brings up a few important questions regarding this pervasive yet elusive piece of fashion history.
For example, when did the Homburg hat become popular? How has the Homburg hat evolved over the years? Finally, where do Homburg hats fit in the modern world of fashion? In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at the European locale that started it all!
Where Did The Homburg Hat Originate?
While the latter half of the Homburg hat’s history is well-documented, the early years are slightly darker and more mysterious. No one knows exactly who created the first Homburg hat, though historians are well aware of where it came from. Additionally, it is quite clear how the hat came to be an international sensation.
Before becoming the king of England upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Edward VII enjoyed the life of a royal and a successor to the throne. As a result, he would frequently travel throughout Europe, hosted by other kings, queens, and government heads. When returning from a trip from Germany in the 1890s, he came back to England wearing something curious on his head. It was a new hat design that had never been seen in England (or much of the world). Since Edward VII had visited the famous Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, a district of Hesse, Germany, the hat was given the name “Homburg.”
Naturally, many people in England (and abroad) were anxious to copy the styles and behaviors of the royal family. Thus, Edward’s adoption of the Homburg hat became an instant hit. Hatmakers throughout England began creating imitations, with the style eventually making its way across the Atlantic to the Americas. In a matter of just a few years, the Homburg became one of the most popular men’s hat designs in the Western world!
The Homburg was likely invented as a variation of the existing bowler hat, which was already popular throughout England and the United States. The bowler offered a less formal (and cheaper) alternative to the top hat. With the creation of the Homburg, men had even more choices for semi-formal and informal hat wear!
However, it would be unfair to give unnamed German and English hatmakers all of the credit for the Homburg hat. In fact, there is ample evidence that the design existed at least two decades before Edward VII’s fateful trip. In Italy, the hat was already well-known, albeit by a different name. Known as a “Lobbia” in Italian, the Homburg was seen on various Italian royals and dignitaries in the late 19th century.
In 1869, Italian general and political engineer, Cristiano Lobbia, was assaulted by a stranger. The attacker hit Lobbia over the head with a stick and stabbed him three times with a knife. The attack became a sensationalized event in the press, with even further attention drawn to the assault when Lobbia appeared in the Italian Parliament wearing the same bowler hat that he had worn on the night of the attack. Due to the blow, the bowler hat bore a noticeable crease down the middle of the crown. Subsequently, a Florentine hatmaker designed a new kind of bowler “alla Lobbia.” Thus, the Lobbia, later to be known as the Homburg, was born.
Winston Churchill's Homburg Hat
Though various figures wore the Homburg hat in public throughout the early and mid-20th century, it is perhaps most closely associated with Winston Churchill. As one of the most famous English prime ministers in history, Churchill managed the country through several crises, most notably the Second World War. He would once again take on the role of Prime Minister in the 1950s.
In any case, Winston Churchill was a large man with thinning hair. Consequently, he was rarely seen out in public without some kind of head covering. Not only was it customary for men of the time to wear formal, semi-formal, and even informal hat wear, but it also helped him cover up his premature baldness. Thus, Churchill was known for donning a number of different hats, including the Homburg.
Though the Homburg was not the only hat in Winston Churchill’s vast collection, it was one of his favorites. Its association with one of England’s most popular prime ministers also helped reignite its popularity in British society, particularly among the working class. Much as it had in the late 19th and early 20th century, the fashion trend once again worked its way across the Atlantic Ocean, taking hold in the United States.
Homburg Hats and The Godfather
Though men’s hat wear trended more toward styles like the fedora in the 1950s and 1960s, a strange and random event helped reignite the passion for Homburg hats. Following the success of Mario Puzo’s novel, The Godfather, in 1969, the book was adapted into a screenplay to be directed by Francis Ford Coppola just three years later. While the world-famous story of an Italian mob boss and his descendants was split into a film trilogy, the first film was an immediate hit.
Though many people focused on Marlon Brando’s and Al Pacino’s respective performances in the film, many people took notice of the fashion. More specifically, Al Pacino’s character wore a gray Homburg in the first film. Despite the decline in the hat’s popularity, it saw a near immediate resurgence in the early 1970s. However, this popularity was once again short-lived, as the fedora and even more modern hat styles took precedence in the 1980s and 1990s.
Homburg Hats In Modern Fashion
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the men’s homburg hat has seen a major comeback, thanks in large part to a trend in fashion to borrow from a variety of eras and sources. However, in modern times, it’s not just men wearing the black or grey Homburg. Today, you can find Homburg hats designed for both men and women, and in a wide variety of colors.
That said, if you’re looking for great deals, Bellissimo Hats offers the best quality homburg hat for sale. Our Homburg hats come in various colors and are made using the finest European materials and craftsmanship. For example, The Mayor is one of our most popular Homburg designs, made with 100% Italian rabbit fur-felt, premium roan leather, and ruby red satin lining.
As you can see, the Homburg hat has a long and storied history that is far from over. While it may not have the widespread popularity that it maintained during the early 20th century, the Homburg is not losing steam anytime soon. In fact, it is once again a symbol of elegance, refinement, and high fashion for consumers around the world!
We hope you found this history of the Homburg hat both insightful and useful! If you’d like to acquire one of the best Homburg hats for your own collection, be sure to check out Bellissimo Hats today!