Baby, it’s cold outside, so grab your hat … but which one? The toboggan creates irreversible hat head; a cowboy hat is sometimes just too country for your look; caps are strictly sporty; and most furry concoctions are a bit conspicuous for everyday wear.
The wool fedora hat is a fall/winter option that brings an equal amount of form and funtion to any ensemble. This style hat was originally designed for men in the 19th century and a hallmark of actors and singers in the 1940s and ’50s. Today, fedoras are popular with women as a versatile, stylish accessory.
Just ask Alvin Lansky, owner of Mister Hats, and he will confirm that fedoras are a unisex fashion choice. “Mister” Hats, as the name suggests, caters to male customers, and Alvin carries only a small selection of women’s hats relative to his inventory of more than 1000 men’s hats. However, in keeping with the women’s runway trend of wearing men’s hats, several of his customers are fashionable females.
Mister Hats is a cornerstone business in Memphis. This couture hat store relocated from the intersection of Main and Monroe to 113 South Highland 20 years ago. For almost 30 years, owner Alvin Lansky has been finding the right hat for Memphians as well as customers throughout the U.S.
Specialty hat stores are a rare gem in todays’ retail landscape. Alvin recalls that when he entered the hat business there were more than 400 high-end hat shops in New York City, and now only about 40 remain. He adds that Mister Hats is the only couture men’s hat store in the Mid-South.
When asked if he had ever worked with celebrity customers, Alvin said that he left that to his brother Bernard, who was known as the “Clothier to The King [Elvis]” as well as to other famous musicians such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Isaac Hayes. However, Alvin did teach Elvis how to tie a necktie!
Mister Hats offers difficult to find services for hat owners such as stretching, cleaning and reshaping. Based on the wide geographic range of his clientele, these services must be hard to find. “Customers from all parts of the country can’t believe it when they find this specialty shop; they are amazed,” Alvin explains. Courtesy, customer respect, high quality products and a willingness to do whatever he can to help the customer are the characteristics that continue to set Mister Hats apart in the retail business.
And “to top it off” (couldn’t resist), here is my fedora-style hat, purchased from Mister Hats. It is a wool, water-repellant hat by Bailey, $65. Most wool fedoras at Mister Hats range from $35 to $140.
Stop by Mister Hats for your next stylish chapeau. The prices are reasonable; the hats are top quality; and simply visiting with Alvin and his knowledgeable staff offers a slice of local retail history.
Read even more about Alvin in a 2011 bio about him by Lesley Young for The Commercial Appeal: “Glad hatter: It’s Alvin Lansky’s business to stay on top of things”