If there’s a city in the world that can rival New York in having a firm grip of influence in today’s popular culture, what’s the first city that comes to mind? Generally, people might respond with London and Paris in the west, and Tokyo in the east.
But there’s a dark horse contender making a run, and it’s no other than the land down under. Growing up and learning about Australia and America, we’ve all heard about it. These two nations have always drawn comparisons due to their modernized and fast-paced lifestyles yet equally fascinating cultures.
Some of Australia’s famous names are billionaire businessman Rupert Murdoch, fabulously stylish celebs Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth and Miranda Kerr (the first Victoria’s Secret Model).
The oceanic country is on the cusp of breaking out of the popular culture scene, and we’re here for it.
It All Starts With Australia Day
Australia Day is every January 26 as a commemoration of the first permanent settlement of European influence in 1788. In the 1800s, it used to be called the First Landing Day, where celebratory drinking was often the major highlight.
The Aussies seem to have developed an early habit for heavy drinking, landing them a top spot on the world drinking table just right above the Americans, according to a study by the Word Health Organization.
Around 1888 the most famous type of Australian hat, the Australian Outback hat or slouch hat, made its first appearances in the country as the official hat of the Australian Commonwealth Military Force. The term was derived from how one side of the brim turns down or slouches while the other side of the brim is pinned up by means of the hat band.
These distinguishing headpieces were first worn by Australian fighting men upon joining the forces. Often made of felt fur, its defining feature is that the right sided brim is turned right up to avoid getting caught up during rifle drill exercises in military training.
In the 1930s, the Victorian government adopted January 26 as the official Australia Day. But around the same period, minority Aboriginal people have also used the celebration as a platform for their Day of Mourning to protest how they were being mistreated by white Australians, urging them to seek full citizen rights.
Think of the Aboriginals, who ushered in the era of modernized Australian Outback hats, in the opposite spectrum as you would for Native Americans, who wanted their own version of what the cowboys wore when they came up with their version of the open crown cowboy hats.
Decades later, it wouldn’t be a complete celebration of Australia Day without the Australian Open taking center stage, shrimp getting piled on the barbie, and fireworks showering over the skies.
How Does Australian Culture (including Its Hats) Differ From the US?
Comparing a country’s culture with that of another is always a tall order, but we’re up for it— here’s a reminder that one way to better appreciate these observations is by setting aside one’s initial stereotypes and personal biases. For our shared love of fashionable hats, try keeping an open (and fashionable) mind instead, will you?
According to BBC, Australians are usually said to come across as more laid back while maintaining a casual attitude to life. Meanwhile, Americans are said to be consumed by individualism whereby they often place the most importance to oneself, per PIP Partners.
In an article on Slate, Americans are drawn in allegiance to flag or country, while Aussies are more inclined to swear by their mates. The concept of “mateship” in Australia is the equivalent of what patriotism is for the Americans.
To us hat enthusiasts, these characteristics can also be expressed in how Aussies and Americans show off their gears. “How so”, you may ask.
True enough, an Australian topper is usually wider-brimmed than that of its American counterpart to cover up against the grazing sunlight, which relates to the casual way of life of the Australians. Men’s cowboy hats, on the other hand (or head, shall we say) are American. Their shaped creases and colorful bands are often tell-tale signs we can equate to someone who wants to nonchalantly stand out.
Though it wouldn’t take a genius to differentiate those Australian and American traits, it may be more of a challenge to compare the Australian Outback hat with the American Cowboy hat.
Commonly known as the Australian bush hat and American cowboy felt hat respectively, these headgears are similar in appearance but different from its origin. We’ve already told you about the early influence of military on the Aussie hats. American hats, meanwhile, have early traces leading to Mexican sombrero influence.
The Australian bushman hat is again defined by the imbalanced position of the brim, while the American cowboy hat takes its pride in the symmetrical position of its brim. The creases of the Aussie hats are made with less dent than those of the dimples seen on the American cowboy hats.
Evolution of Australian Outback Hats
Throughout the centuries, the evolution of the Australian Outback hat has been overwhelming with plenty of styles to choose from. We’re excited to let you know about some of its variations below!
The Cork Slouch Hat is the perfect wear for anyone who wants to rock headgear that also keeps the flies away when outdoors. A cork slouch hat has bottle corks that are hung on strings attached to its brim. What they lack in fashion they make up for in function.
The movement of the head swings the corks and keeps insects away!
A Digger hat is just another term for the famous Australian Outback hat. The reference was derived from an old slang used which referred to Australian soldiers.
For those who wish to be on the safer side of hat fashion wear, we are raving about the consistency of the texture of the leather from which these are often made. If you’re in the mood for a more adventurous take on this, there are also oilskin variations, whereby wax or oil are woven into its cotton fabric for that even more sophisticated look. The texture of these oilskin hats are on the slippier side of the slope, but you can expect the finish to look more vibrant and radiant than other makes.
Digger hats are said to be a perfect companion for any weather. These are good choices on the go especially if you’re aiming to rock that mix of a classically casual yet perfectly trendy fit. We wouldn’t suggest going for these though if you’re aiming to sport a more formal look.
Floppy hats are usually uber wide-brimmed head skimmers often brought out when the mood is vibrant and the sun is out. If you thought the outback hats are already wide-brimmed, the floppy hats just take its meaning to a whole new level!
Often worn on the beaches of sunny Australia, and perfect for outdoor sporting events like the Australian Open— we just love the aura emanating from wearing these flashy toppers.
Hats Off to the 2022 Australian Open – Grand Slam Update Report
For the past few years, the Australian Open has shown us some of the brightest stars flaunting their most unique head gears. Given how the event is just held annually, in front of the brightest cameras in an outdoor setting, where you just know the whole world is watching – this sporting spectacle has been one of the best avenues to showcase the trendiest hats.
At this year’s 2022 Australian Open, officials deported Novak Djokovic because he’s not vaccinated for COVID-19. The decision will no doubt be a problem for him at the French Open and Wimbledon, unless he gets jabbed. His departure opened up the men’s draw tennis.
There are no Aussies or Yanks left in the men’s singles draw, but Krygios and Kokkinakis are still alive in the quarters of the men’s doubles draw, and American Rajeez Ram will play in the men’s doubles quarters too.
But in the men’s singles draw, if Nadal takes out Shapolvalov in the quarters, he’ll face Monfils or Berrettini. On the bottom of the men’s draw, that sets up a probable Medvedev versus Tsitsipas in the semis. If #2 seed Medvedev, prevails, he’ll be Nadal’s last obstacle a 21st grand slam win, just one more that Federer and Djokovic have.
On the women’s side, if Queensland native Ash Barty takes out Pegula in the quarters, she could play unseeded American Madison Keys, who has been playing with more control than ever down under. If that happens and we have an Aussie versus a Yankee in the semifinals, perhaps we’ll American tennis fans to wear cowboy hats and Aussies to wear Australian outback hats to the match. It’s getting warmed daily at the tournament and everyone’s wearing wide brim hats to keep themselves cool in the sun. The bottom of the women’s draw is wide open, with only the seventh seeded Swiatek still in the running and favored to play Barty in the final
The Hat Stops Here, Mate
Now that you’re able to distinguish Australian outback hats from American men’s cowboy hats, you’re ready to choose which one is right for you.
This Australia Day, we look forward to seeing who’s wearing which hats.
While the fireworks are on display, you can expect our eyes to be wandering off to the spectacularly gorgeous tall poppy Aussies as well.