24 June 2018   •   Raffaella Celentano

Borsalino: the story of the hat worn by all Hollywood stars

READ ME IN itItaliano

«The Borsalino hat relives through the great celebrities who have worn it, turning a simple artisan workshop into a real mythological item for cinema and fashion lovers»

When it was founded in 1857, Borsalino (official site) was a simple artisan workshop specialized in the production of hats. Founded by two brothers, Giuseppe and Lazzaro, the brand soon turned into a real myth, and its hats became a  must  for actors, celebrities, politicians and even  gangsters. It was Al Capone’s favorite hat, but it became a global success especially when Humphrey Bogart was wore it in Casablanca.

Soon this small shop in Alessandria became the largest factory in the city and one of the first true champions of Italian exports, able to reach the 2 million hats produced in 1914 and to invade foreign markets, especially the US. A parable that unfortunately today, after one 160 years of activity, is coming to an end.

In fact, over the last few decades, the Alessandrian production has gradually reduced, partly because in the mid-20th century Borsalino became a mass product and a cult object, and from year to year it was increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Among scandals, financial collapses and transfers of ownership, however, Borsalino has survived until today, when the new request for agreement made by Haeres Equita from Camperio was rejected by the court and the company was decreed bankruptcy. Haeres Equita, however, will continue to work with the resources made available for the relaunch of Borsalino and expects to be able to continue the positive trend of the last twenty-four months, preserving a heritage of excellence in the Italian manufacturing system.

This confirms the desire to continue production, distribution and promotion activities for future collections while maintaining employment levels and maintaining the production site in Alessandria. Borsalino, in fact, is not a simple company, but a piece of history of our Italy. A story made of passion, courage and talent. Let’s go over it together through the main models that have brought the company to success.

The Borsalino hat became an icon thanks to cinema, and was the favorite of the noir genre, which adopted it as a distinctive element of its codes. In this way it quickly entered the collective imagination. What unites gangsters, policemen and private investigators is the Borsalino, whose shadow increases its enigma. In the golden age of Hollywood everyone wore one.

HUMPHREY BOGART : the final scene of  Casablanca (1940) with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, in which the actor wears the Borsalino hat, is just unforgettable. It will be this film that will bring the Italian company to international success.

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI : in the film  8½, directed by Federico Fellini and released in theaters in 1963, the Italian actor wears a hat produced by the Italian company. He remained so fascinated that he starts to wear it often, not only for his films, but especially in everyday life.

JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO : in  Fino all’ultimo respiro and  Borsalino,  the French actor was often filmed while wearing the iconic hat.

ALAIN DELON : in 1970 the Alessandria factory grants the use of its name to two cult films of the seventies:  Borsalino  and  Borsalino and Co. The idea came from the beautiful French actor, and Borsalino accepted as long as the company logo appeared on the posters.

AL PACINO : the famous Godfather could not but complete his look with an all-Italian hat.

ROBERT REDFORD : halfway between a  gangster  and a billionaire, Jay Gastby (played by Redford) was impeccable with his Borsalino hat, in the 1974 movie The Great Gatsby.

MICHAEL JACKSON :in Smooth Criminal (1987), the King of Pop wore a Borsalino white that was a huge success even among younger fans.

ROBERT DE NIRO : Robert de Niro, in the film The Untouchables (1987) by Brian de Palma, plays the mafia boss Al Capone, with his inevitable Borsalino.

WARREN BEATTY : one of the most iconic Borsalino in film history is Dick Tracy, played by Warren Beatty in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy.

ROBERTO BENIGNI : we come to a masterpiece of Italian cinema. The great Tuscan actor plays an Italian man of Jewish origin during the Second World War. Iconic the scene of the “eggs in the hat”, in which the hat is, just saying, a Borsalino.

HARRISON FORD : in the shoes of the archaeologist born out of the fantasy of George Lucas,  Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford never abandoned his Borsalino-symbol.

TOM HANKS : we are in 2002, with the film He was my father by Sam Mendes. Tom Hanks is transformed, also thanks to the iconic hat, in the gangster Michael “Mike” Sullivan.

JOHNNY DEPP : in Public Enemy , 2009 film by Michael Mann, the Borsalino completes the look of the American actor, who plays the criminal John Dillinger, a bank robber active during the period of the Great Depression.

LEONARDO DI CAPRIO : in the film Shutter Island by Martin Scorsese (2010) Leonardo Da Caprio and Mark Ruffalo interpret two federal agents. Even here the hat becomes the sign of recognition of the two detectives.

TONI SERVILLO : the Made in Italy hat par excellence also makes its appearance in  La Grande Bellezza, a film by Paolo Sorrentino. To wear it is Toni Servillo, in the role of the protagonist Jep Gambardella.

BEN AFFLECK : in the 2016 Live by Night the Hollywood star takes us back in time with a  look studied in every detail. To complete the outfit, of  course, there is the Borsalino.

Raffaella Celentano

READ ME IN itItaliano