John B. Stetson Company

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1920s Stetson side view

The John B. Stetson Company, founded by John B. Stetson in 1865, was the maker of the Stetson cowboy hats, but ceased manufacturing in 1970.[1] Stetson hats are now being manufactured in Garland, Texas, by Hatco, Inc., who also produce Resistol and Charlie 1 Horse hats.[2]

Stetson resumed manufacturing in the 1980s, but the company went bankrupt in 1986.[3] The factory equipment and the license to manufacture Stetson hats was purchased by Hat Brands, a company owned by Irving Joel.


The John B. Stetson Company was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1865 when John B. Stetson decided to mass-produce a hat like one he had fashioned for himself out of necessity during a lengthy Western expedition. Stetson's Boss of the Plains, with its high crown and wide flat brim, became the prototype for all other cowboy hat designs. Now located in St. Joseph, Missouri, the Stetson hat factory there and its second factory in Galveston, Texas, continue to turn out the "Boss of the Plains," along with over 100 variations for men and women.[4]

The Stetson has become "a symbol of Western pride and bravado, this hat, with its large crown and wide brim, has graced the heads of America's most treasured Western heroes, from old-time favorites like actors John Wayne, Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger, Timothy Olyphant, as Raylan Givens and country singer Gene Autry, to modern-day popular artists like Garth Brooks and Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing on the television series Dallas."[4] J.R.'s hat is now displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's contemporary Americana exhibit. Furthermore, the Stetson hat has also been worn by prominent country singers from Dale Evans to Trisha Yearwood, spurred on by legendary female maverick Annie Oakley, proving "that females can carry off this most essential Western look, too."[4] In 2006, when visiting the White House, President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir received a black stetson as a gift from the then-U.S. President George W. Bush. He reportedly liked it so much that he purchased several. He now seldom makes public appearances without a black cowboy hat.[5]


  1. ^ Snyder, Jeffrey B. (1997) Stetson Hats and the John B. Stetson Company 1865–1970 1997 pg57 ISBN 0-7643-0211-6
  2. ^ Snyder, Jeffrey B. (1997) Stetson Hats and the John B. Stetson Company 1865–1970, 1997, p. 71, ISBN 0-7643-0211-6
  3. ^ "Stetson Hats". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b c Kristin Palm Stetson Hat MadeHow website Retrieved August 7, 2007.
  5. ^ "Where did Kiir get his ten-gallon hat?". 

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