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Ray Boone

Awakening fashion: Utah man custom-makes men's hats in his Springville cellar

By Ray Boone  |  Posted Jan 1st, 2017 @ 9:55pm


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SPRINGVILLE — It's a throwback to a forgotten age — a fading piece of the past, resurrected.

"I'd love for it to be more like yesteryear," Chandler Scott said. "That's really romantically cool to me."

Nowadays, businesses like Scott's hat shop are mere shreds of what once was.

"A hat was a quintessential tool to not kill yourself in the sun," he said. "I think what changed eventually in my opinion, that killed the hat, was disco."

Resisting the onslaught of bellbottoms and the death of the hat, Scott feels most at home wandering the floor of his shop, surrounded by the furnishings of days gone by.

And he's always willing to talk about his hero: John Charles Tatton, Utah's first hatmaker. A large portrait of him hangs in Scott's shop.

"He had made hats as a young man in Lancashire, England, and then arrived in the valley just like everyone else," Scott said. "Brigham Young knew that he made hats, and so he was put in employment to make hats for the valley."

Scott was always interested in clothing, but found himself enchanted by hats while serving a mission in South America. His new mission? Breathing life into an aging slice of fashion.

And while he put a lot of time designing the main floor of his business, every old building has a cellar — and this cellar holds a secret.

"We make hats here," Scott said. "The hats are all started from scratch, start to finish here."

Each hat is custom-made. Each hat, a love letter to the days of yore.

"The majority of hats are pneumatically pressed in China and brought here," Scott said, with a hint of disdain. He calls that process "half-cheating."

"They're not going to last," he said. "And they're not custom-made. Sizes can be a half to three-quarters of an inch difference. Most people are in between sizes."

Here, Scott uses steam.

"It opens up the fibers of the beaver fur," he said.

Here, Scott works with a sewing machine from 1905.

"There's a Chinese version that's exactly the same, that will break every three to four months on you," he said.

Here, Scott does things the old-fashioned way.

"Because it's the proper way to do it," he said. "It's expensive, but it's also a heritage piece, or an heirloom. The guy that wants to buy something that's made in America that's going to last a long time, it's not hard to convince him."

So who's buying these ancient artifacts of American antiquity?

"I think you just need to find your market, actually," Scott said.

And a big part of that means peddling his wares outside of Springville.

"My fall line had a bunch of campaign hats, or boy scout hats, in them for our Japanese store," Scott said.

Believe it or not, Scott has a store in Tokyo. His employees are trained to take measurements, after which the hats are ordered, made, and sent overseas. While Scott says hats are making a resurgence in the United States, he's tapped into a big market across the Pacific.

"The Japanese do a really good job of loving Americana," Scott said. "Almost more than we do."

And, of course, every export is overseen by his idol: John Charles Tatton. Scott doesn't just use Tatton's techniques — he actually uses some of the man's original equipment.

"Some of the hat equipment is from the original shop, that was started in the 1860s," he said.

In this hat shop, Tatton is a constant inspiration. Such an inspiration, Scott named the store after him.

"Inspired enough to call the business 'Tatton Baird,' Baird being my middle name," he said.

Merging the past with his own present, hoping to give the "good old days" a path to the future.

"We're trying to keep Utah hat heritage alive, and doing it one hat at a time."

You can learn more about Scott and his hats by visiting his website, tattonbaird.com.

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