Are Bucket Hats Actually Back? A Scientific Investigation by Moi

If the accessories table at Céline stores coupled with the influencer population of Copenhagen are any indication, there is no way around a new reality that might be challenging to psychologically absorb. Indeed — it appears that bucket hats, which have been quietly seeping through the porous skin of fashion’s zeitgeist, are making a comeback.

How could they come back if they were never cool, you ask? I urge you to recall the cover of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Barbra Streisand’s creative interpretations of said bucket over the last several decades and that day Mia Thermopolis of The Princess Diaries went to school dressed from the neck up like she was applying for a Fila catalogue model job.

Originally known as “Irish walking hats,” they served the utilitarian purpose of protecting fishermen and farmers from inclement weather. Their foray into modern culture occurred in the 60s, when they were newly defined as a fanciful accessory to complement the mod style of dress. But it wasn’t really until the 90s, when the accessory was adopted and reinterpreted by the rap and hip-hop community, that they experienced the sort of skyrocket success that gives a trend posterity.

But why these hats, now? Perhaps we’ve reached peak 90s and as a result find ourselves grasping for straws as we look to further perpetuate a revival. Incidentally, bucket hats could be its last untapped frontier, which makes it both a blessing (if you are tired of looking to Julia Stiles for #outfitinspo) and a curse (are you really ready to re-enter the 80s, cycling shorts and neon accents notwithstanding?).

Personally speaking, bucket hats can file themselves under Things I Would Have Sworn I Would Never Want to Try, but as fate and my murky sense of self would have it, Man Repeller has made a bucket hat, one that I volleyed for and championed in a major way. My daughters have been seen sporting them on at least two occasions and I, for one, did not put this outfit on to satisfy the story’s art requirement. So what am I to make of the hat’s renaissance?

I don’t know. Which is why I took to the streets and a trusted board of advisors (my dad, Amelia’s boyfriend, this one Romanian guy, and Anthony, who has fixed every broken appliance in my apartment since I moved in last November) to unpack the rehash for me. I simply asked, “What do you think of my bucket hat?” and in response achieved a deluge of substantially varied remarks. I invite you to see below.

Guess what? I wrote the first half of this story before actually taking to the streets (Washington Square Park and the region of Nolita) and culling responses to my bucket hat. It was foolish to assume the reactions would be varied and greedy to suggest “substantially” so. What actually ended up happening is some version of the below, each iteration quite lukewarm:

“Pretty good.”

When this was followed by, “Would you wear one?” my reply was met with a universally decisive (and possibly derisive), “No.” Amelia’s boyfriend made zero sense when I asked him (he said something about an indoor cat which I am having trouble recalling now), my dad asked me why I was asking him, that one Romanian guy (his name is Lorenzo) just sent me back a text that read “xo,” and, well actually, Anthony impressed me. He said, “I can fix your oven, but I don’t know how to help with bad hair.” The nerve! The gusto.

So where does this leave us in relation to the story title’s question? Exactly where we started! After all, would a bunch of strangers genuinely be able to ascertain whether a trend is making a comeback when we live by an ethos that demands a comeback be strictly defined by the trend’s beholder? If I want to wear a bucket hat, by golly I will. That shit protects my face from the sun, connects me to the roots of what it means to dress menocore and if I’m being really honest, I feel like a salad bar wherein Johnny Depp and Jane Goodall are the main protein options, so I’m going with it.

Photos by Edith Young.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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