Akubra

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An Akubra wide-brimmed hat

Akubra /əˈkbrə/ is an Australian hat manufacturer. The company is popularly associated with bush hats made of rabbit fur felt with wide brims that are worn in rural Australia. The term 'Akubra' is sometimes used to refer to any hat of this kind, however the company manufactures a wide range of hat styles including Fedora, Homburg, Bowler, Pork pie, Trilby.

The name is believed to be derived from an Aboriginal word for head covering.[1]

History[edit]

The original hat-making factory, not called Akubra at that time, was founded in the early 1870s by Benjamin Dunkerley. A recent immigrant to Australia, Dunkerley set up shop in Tasmania after inventing a machine that removed the hair tip from rabbit fur, leaving the softer under-fur for use in the making of felt hats.

Dunkerley and his family later relocated to Sydney, New South Wales, where he hired a young man named Stephen Keir. While working for Dunkerley Hat Mills, Keir married Ada Dunkerley, Benjamin's daughter. After Benjamin Dunkerley's death in 1925, Stephen Keir took over the reins of the company, moving to a larger premises and adopting Akubra as a brand name. The trade name "Akubra" came into use in 1912.

Akubra heritage signage, Museum Railway Station, Sydney

Akubra is famous for providing many of the slouch hats used by Australian forces in both World War One and Two. In the 1950s, the Akubra Company expanded its range when it won the licence to produce Stetson hats in Australia, and by the 1970s, the business relocated from Sydney to larger premises in Kempsey, New South Wales. Stephen Keir's sons Herbert and Stephen Keir II later ran the company, followed in turn by Stephen Keir III and now Stephen Keir IV. The company is still a family concern. Its current owners are the great, great-grandchildren of Benjamin Dunkerley.

Styles[edit]

Over 100 different styles, various colours and brim widths are produced in the Akubra hat range.[2][3] The hats are popularly thought of as being worn by older people in rural Australia however in the 1920s Akubra was known more for making "fashion hats" such as Fedoras. The company sells hats in rural and urban areas. In 2014 it was reported that about 140,000 to 180,000 Akubras are sold every year, including "bucket loads" in Melbourne around Melbourne Cup time.[3]

Stage musical[edit]

Cast members and riders in the musical The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular wore Akubra hats.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bowen, Jill (1988). The Akubra Hat. Sydney, NSW: Weldon Publishing. ISBN 0-947116-52-4. 
  2. ^ Akubra website Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  3. ^ a b Bryant, Gayle. Hat fad propels iconic brand. The Sydney Morning Herald: 24 April 2014. [1]. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
  4. ^ The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular — Theatre Programme and DVD credits

External links[edit]