Bowler Hat - The History & Origin
The Bowler Hat, or Derby, as it is known in the U.S. was first created in London in 1850 by St. James Street hatters George and James Lock. The hat was created initially as a hard hat, custom made for an aristocrat-cum-game warden by the name of William Coke II, and for a short time assumed the name of a ‘Coke Hat’.
The actual manufacture of the first prototype ‘bowler hat’ was handled by another London-based hatter named William Bowler. Due to the fact the hat was also bowl shaped, and manufactured by the William Bowler, the term ‘bowler hat’ soon replaced ‘coke hat’.
Because the bowler hat was initially created to be used as a hard hat for horse-riding people such as William Coke II, its use soon came to be standard for such horse riding events as the derby. One hatter from the United States duly noted the fact the hat was been used among those taking part in Derby’s, therefore the term Derby hat took hold in the United States before the original – and still the traditional term in the United Kingdom – bowler hat term could.
Gradually, more sophisticated riding hats replaced the bowler hat and the bowler hat gained use as a hat to be worn on the street by well-to-do folk.