Monday, May 26, 2008

Indie's Fedora

Stephen Delk's Adventurebilt, used in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $350; (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

A hatmaker goes digging to create an iconic topper fit for the world's most famous adventurer — and the most discerning city dwellers. By Michael Frew

Stephen Delk's Adventurebilt, used in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $350; (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
In the movies, as in life, clothes define character. And with Harrison Ford's iconic archaeologist and adventurer, Indiana Jones, it's all about the hat. Having worn hats all his life — growing up on a cotton farm made them a necessity — Stephen Delk, a soft-spoken grandfather from Columbus, Mississippi, always appreciated good headgear but was too busy with his job as a custom cabinetmaker to indulge his inner hatter. Then, around 1991, a friend showed him a 10-year-old film on VHS, conceived by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg, called Raiders of the Lost Ark. Delk remembers thinking, "That is the coolest hat I've ever seen." After spending $7,500 on hats that never quite matched his imagination, Delk made a fateful decision: "Heck, I could learn how to make these things."

Three years of trial and error — "Hatters don't share much," he asserts — and Delk, using arcane instruments like tollikers, brim flanges, and crown irons, had the Adventurebilt: a thirties-style brown fedora made from the finest beaver felt, with a 5 ½" straight-sided crown, dark ribbon, and a dimensionally cut brim (2 ½" sides, 2 ¾" front and back).

On his quest, Delk discovered a crucial secret: It was the block shape of the original Raiders fedora, found by costume designer Deborah Nadoolman at the Herbert Johnson hat shop in London, that made Indy's lid so distinctive. So like the old-school bespoke hatters who stretched raw felt bodies over worn wooden blocks, Delk carved out a properly shaped form by hand and got to work.

While many of his customers are Indiana Jones fans, 80 percent of Delk's business comes from purists, those rare souls who still appreciate a handmade hat. He insists on doing all of his stitching by hand, taking over eight hours in his backyard camper workshop to produce each one.


  1. I found this in the Internet:
    Is Indy chasing a fake?

  2. And the Eurovision Song Contest is over. The winner this year is Russia:

    Last year in Finland this weird group managed to make Russians mad, by singing "lasha tumbai", which sounded like "Russia goodbye":

    Without Eurovision there wouldn't be Riverdance:

  3. Very interesting, Minna! I think Elijah will be a palentologist or an archeologist! He loves this stuff.

  4. costumes defines character, in this way hat defines heroism. Especially in the adventurous movies like Indiana Jones hats plays nothing but some boldness, this hats are also designed by one and only costume world named easterntoys .Its the home of specially designed costumes and bold styled hats, but one thing now its available to everyone in online to make you bold.

  5. As a collector of vintage hats (have 8,) I found this very interesting. Cheryl, you have the BEST blog!

    FYI attended a predominately black women's church meeting last week and 75% wore the most gorgeous, unique chapeaus: it was like being at Ascot Race in My Fair Lady or the Easter Parade only all were resplendent in WHITE! They were breath-taking! Wish I had a photo for my memory and to share. Forgot I had a cream colored one or I would have been right in step and "styling".