The hunt for our perfect hat ended when we stumbled upon Maar Hats. We wanted something aesthetically pleasing of course, but also robust in its construction because is taking care of a hat really something we need to be doing in 2020? They should be able to handle a long day by the ocean, an unexpected afternoon thunderstorm, stuffed in a small bag for a spontaneous weekend away. And then Maar Hats presented itself somewhere on a deep online dig and we knew it was the one. Designed and crafted in Spain by Jana Lopez. Each piece is considered and timeless. They manufacture locally, on a small scale, because in addition to the development of shapes, they believe in the development of our social context.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Jana about the brand and her life in Spain.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how Maar Hats was born?
I have a degree in Fine Arts and a complete obsession with headpieces. After finishing my art studies I started to get interested in this field and to learn hat-making technique and history. For me it is fascinating the mix of functionality and design that a headpiece shows. The visual strength that the hat has is almost sculptural. My intention in creating Maar Hats was to contribute with something. It was something that came about quite naturally and that takes shape and defines itself as it grows. Working with friends who are dedicated to fashion and combining that experience with real needs of daily life, the idea of making rain hats came up (it rains a lot here!) and so, with 6 hats I started this project. Every day I'm glad I did it, it's been a really good experience.
2. Where do you find inspiration?
Where I learn the most and get ideas from is everyday life. But I recognize that I consume a lot of images of art, history, fashion, movies... and I spend a lot of hours looking at hats of all styles and visiting factories and hat shops. I have a lot of respect for traditional hat-making and great craftsmanship.
3. What makes a great hat?
The shape, no doubt. That's what makes a great hat. If you get a good foundation, that has a good balance with the head, you’ll have a good hat. No matter what material or style you're working with, the key is to get that balance. From there, you can add elements or maintain a more minimalist aesthetic, that's where your personal style comes in, but without that good basic form there is no hat.
4. We really respect your ethos in that you manufacture locally and on a small scale. Tell us more about this decision?
I guess it's logical, we shouldn’t want and ask for a better world and then do nothing about it. Galicia, the region where I am from, and where I work, has a great culture of small clothing companies, usually run by women, which were created with the rise of Spanish fashion in the 80s and 90s. Many of these companies had to close down due to the offshoring of production but those that survived have a lot of experience and are very good at it. Having these resources at my disposal and this close knowledge of how large fashion companies and overproduction generate damage, not only to the environment, but also to communities, was important to make a project that was not only ecologically sustainable but also economically so. Producing locally and in limited quantities not only saves unnecessary waste, but also generates a fair economic balance, which promotes decent work and community development. I believe that it is very important for us to take care of the social environment as well as the ecological one.
5. What's a regular day like for you?
I am very lucky and can walk to work every day, and by the sea. Since the distances are short, I get up calmly and read while I have breakfast before walking down to the studio. I do a lot of socializing while I work, my friends live or work nearby and that allows us to get together almost daily and share time, meals or just the way to our jobs. The same thing happens to me with the people I collaborate with, they are close and everything is very casual and natural. At midday I usually go for a swim at the beach whenever the weather allows it and after lunch I go to the workshop where we make our production to review patterns, work plans or new prototypes with Pili, who is the workshop owner, who runs it and is almost like family. I learn a lot from her. The afternoons are usually quiet in the studio and when I go home I tend to my little garden or sit down to paint. At this time of the year it doesn't get dark until 10:30 pm, which allows me to enjoy the terrace for a while after work.
6. What is coming up next for Maar Hats?
I think that taking the step that is missing to have a more diversified brand. Currently we already have male customers, but I think I would like to create more models to really have a unisex brand. I have never shared the idea of completely different clothes for boys and girls, so I think there is something missing when making a brand aimed at only one sector. Expanding our range of shapes I think would mean creative growth for me and a breakthrough for the brand, but I would also like to take that step by researching new materials.
7. Favourite office tunes?
I'm completely hooked on Turnstile's "Time and Space" album, lately it sounds all the time in a loop! Haha
8. What are you watching and/or reading right now?
I'm much more of a reader than a watcher, I hardly watch any series, I prefer movies. The last film I saw was Kurosawa's "Drunken Angel", which is one of my favourite directors. It's wonderful. I love to read and I always have several books in hand, right now I'm re-reading the classic "100 Years of Solitude" and the art books "Ninth Street Women" by Mary Gabriel and "Dictionary of the Arts" by Felix de Azua.