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Shopping Traditions

Straw hats

 

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The Florentine models exported worldwide

The straw hat industry in Tuscany began in the 16th century. However, it did not flourish until 1700, when the models that became world-famous began to be manufactured.

In 1718, Domenico Michelacci introduced the cultivation of 'grano marzuolo' (the March wheat, as it was harvested in this month), from which a tender and supple straw was obtained. This innovation increased the quality of the hats made in Lastra, which became in-demand in Europe and in the U.S..

The straw was split and plaited almost exclusively at home until the second half of the 19th century. This work was done by women, called 'trecciaiole' (braid makers), who would plait the straw, which was then made into hats in Campi or Signa. The manufacturing of straw hats was industrialized during the second half of the 19th century, consequently women were no longer exploited and their rights were safeguarded.

This change was due to the introduction of the 'canotto' or 'paglietta', a fashionable hat in the 1920s, which had to be made mechanically. The great 1929 recession marked the beginning of the industry's decline, causing the manufacturing of straw hats to disappeared from the local economy in the 1950s.