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Dec 13, 2023

A hat a day makes you lead the way. 10 Qs to Borsalino’s Head of Style

How poetic is the hat! A masterpiece of craftsmanship woven into the tapestry of our history and customs. It’s not just an accessory; it’s a ‘magical’ artefact. 

Borsalino's hat manufacturing process. Courtesy Borsalino

Besides technical innovations, Borsalino has kept the same manufacturing process over the years; hats are hand-made by artisans to preserve the cultural heritage. © Courtesy Borsalino

Enter the realm of Jacopo Politi, Borsalino’s Head of Style since November 2022 and an alumnus of Istituto Marangoni Milano. He has dedicated years of his life to the study of hats, observing their stylistic evolution over the years. 


Borsalino's Head of Style Jacopo Politi. © Courtesy Borsalino

Politi’s journey includes a directorial role at Maison Michel Paris (yes, the Chanel-owned millinery) and noteworthy collaborations with fashion titans such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Saint Laurent, and Balmain. His wealth of experience transforms mere accessories into iconic, timeless pieces.

Join us as Jacopo Politi opens the door to his world—a world where hats transcend mere fashion. Let the expertise and memories of this maestro be your guide into the fascinating universe of Borsalino’s legendary hats. 


Borsalino, from 1857 to this day. How can a Heritage brand be cool while surviving streetwear?
Nowadays, we maintain the same manufacturing process for a fine handcrafted hat while focusing on the iconographic style. A large portion of the company’s collection includes permanent products dating back to 1850. The hat was forgotten in the late 1960s and locked in a closet; it is a product that has not evolved in the following years. Around the 2000s, the hat was finally back in fashion, ‘breaking’ the traditional codes. 

We maintain the same manufacturing process for a valuable handcrafted hat, but we now focus on the iconographic style. Hats are not only fashion items but also practical and durable, so they retain their value in the fashion business. We live a chaotic life, always travelling by train, plane, etc. Although Borsalino is known for producing felt hats with a clear-cut shape, we have adapted to change and now offer a wide range of trendy headwear. Hats can be a very cool accessory for their silhouette, completing a person’s look and making them stand out.

“Hats are not only fashion items but also practical, so they retain their value in the fashion business. They can be a very cool accessory for their silhouette, completing a person’s look and making them stand out” – Jacopo Politi, Head of Style at Borsalino and Istituto Marangoni Milano alumnus

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Your Job Title is “Head of Style”. But what is it that you actually do? What technical skills does it take to do your job?
“Head of style” is the person you go to for all style-related tasks. It’s not about creation or design, but this role involves overseeing the addition of a specific style to a well-defined product. Around 40% of our collection includes permanent high-quality and handcrafted pieces that have made Borsalino a distinctive brand since 1857. The stylist is like an ‘accessory’ of fashion, continuously looking out for the trendiest styles and aiming to give an original twist to historical pieces. My daily assignment is to reinterpret classic forms in a modern way. For my first Borsalino collection, named “A Journey to Space,” I envisioned the company’s future in a space-like setting, creating printed felts with a nebula effect and reworking historical shapes by adding belts studded with Swarovski brilliant-cut ‘rocks’ to mimic the lunar surface. My goal is to match a specific style to the central theme of each season.

"A Journey to Space" collection. Courtesy Borsalino

"A Journey to Space" collection. © Courtesy Borsalino


As Istituto Marangoni alumnus, tell us a bit about your experience. What programme did you choose? What is your favourite memory of your academic experience?
Istituto Marangoni has the unique advantage of offering practical experience to its students, which helps them make the most of their academic knowledge. I chose the BA in Fashion Design during a time when incredible things were happening in fashion, such as John Galliano’s success at Dior or Miuccia Prada’s new minimalism. I was lucky enough to learn from highly knowledgeable professors.

My favourite course was Anthropology of Fashion, which deeply marked my fashion career. I consider myself ‘an observer: I have a mathematical view of fashion, and I see it as an exact mirror of society, reflecting our habits and customs. I will never forget the sense of excitement I experienced during the Istituto Marangoni Fashion Show in Milan, where I participated during my final year of study.

“Studying Anthropology of Fashion at Istituto Marangoni shaped my career; I’m an observer with a mathematical view, seeing fashion as society’s mirror” Jacopo Politi

Istituto Marangoni Fashion Styling students and Borsalino gathered together for a special project celebrating self-expression and diversity through the hat, by making this accessory the starting point of the styling process.


The evolution of the hat over the years: simple style accessory or an essential piece for the definition of personal identity?
I believe that an object does not define identity. It’s a particular style that reflects your identity, and that’s where the hat comes in. In recent years especially, people have become more careful about how they present themselves to others. Showing ourselves involves finding elements that complement our style. I consider the hat as a ‘statement’ of our personal style.

“I consider the hat as a ‘statement’ of our personal style” – Jacopo Politi


Which hats have made an impact on history?
The answer is undoubtedly the Borsalino, also known as the Fedora. Giuseppe Borsalino, the founder of this company, had an idea that would change the history of hats. Let’s take a moment to consider the historical period in which this entrepreneur lived, which was the Romantic era. During this time, it was customary for men to take off their hats when meeting a woman on the street. Bowlers or top hats were popular at the time but were not easy to take off with one hand. Borsalino invented the technique of “pinching” the hat to make it easier to remove. This innovation led to the Fedora, an iconic piece that later became a worldwide phenomenon in the 1930s thanks to Hollywood.

“The iconic Borsalino Fedora changed the history of hats. Founder Giuseppe Borsalino’s ‘pinching’ idea made it a Hollywood cult in the 1930s” Jacopo Politi

Another hat that changed history is the 1920s cloche. Not long before it was invented, women used to place hats on their heads but without wearing them to avoid ruining their hairstyles. After many years, the introduction of the cloche gat changed everything, and women could finally ‘wear’ hats. It was a revolutionary concept, as hats had been for the exclusive use of men until then. Another interesting hat is the one worn by Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt for the opening of the Panama Canal. It was the first time the world saw an important political figure wear a straw hat, which peasants typically wore.

Artisans crafting a Borsalino hat. © Courtesy Borsalino

Artisans crafting a Borsalino hat. © Courtesy Borsalino


Borsalino and the cinema. Which film makes you think about this link?
There is a huge connection, which is worth a third of the tour in our Museum in Alessandria (Piedmont, Italy). Borsalino has had a long-standing partnership with the film industry, dating back to Humphrey Bogart, who wore a Borsalino hat in “Casablanca” (1942), to Alaine Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo in the film “Borsalino” (1970). Borsalino has become a globally recognised brand thanks to this partnership. And then again, Indiana Jones, Life is Beautiful, The Great Beauty. It is a timeless accessory that is intertwined with the aesthetic codes of film-making.

“Borsalino’s cinematic legacy. From Casablanca to Indiana Jones, intertwining timeless style with Hollywood’s influential touch”Jacopo Politi


You just mentioned the Panama hat. Could you tell us more about this UNESCO cultural heritage?
I consider this hat a perfect example of a heritage craft. It is exclusively made in a few regions of South America, using a specific type of palm tree known as the toquilla. The weaving process is done by hand by thousands of families living in the mountains in Ecuador.  This skill has been passed down through generations and is a testament to their expertise.

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Name a character (real or imaginary) you would like to design a hat for.
My dream is to place a hat on the head of Hollywood actor Timothée Chalamet! The reason is simple – I admire his style, his acting skills (especially in “Call Me by Your Name,” a film shot in my birthplace’s countryside), and the great fashion evolution he is experiencing. Timothée would look great in a rust-red colour, which is available in our Borsalino Ducale collection.

“Dreaming of Timothée Chalamet donning a Borsalino hat—his style, acting, and fashion evolution make the Andrea piece, with a Ducale colour, a perfect matchJacopo Politi


Can you imagine a link between the Borsalino hat and perfumery?
The hat already has ‘its own’ recognisable scent, as it is made from natural materials that have their specific smell. To me, a hat’s fragrance is an essential feature of the manufacturing process.

Borsalino's models require manual processes that preserve the extraordinary quality standards of the Company's hat-making artisanal craft. Courtesy Borsalino  

Borsalino's models require manual processes. © Courtesy Borsalino


What advice would you give to young students looking to enter the world of fashion and creative arts?
I started working in fashion when this sector was turning into an industry. Today, young people are joining an incredibly structured and demanding reality, which still offers opportunities for newcomers who need to be both creative and highly specialised. It’s all about being passionate about what you do. It’s a job that takes time and effort, so it’s important to have a genuine passion.

“Invest time in a deeper understanding of your passion to emerge as a specialised professional and thrive in this field.” Jacopo Politi 

So, my first piece of advice is that, since this job demands time, it’s better to have a deep understanding of your passion to become a specialised professional figure. Secondly, trust yourself, as I trust you! The younger generations plays a vital role in reinterpreting fashion; I am confident that you can choose the right job and seek well-being. Lastly, don’t miss anything; be voracious and read up on all societal levels, including anthropological, social, and historical aspects. Fashion is a reflection of current events but also a mirror of the times, so be curious!

“Trust yourself, as I trust you! The younger generation shapes fashion’s reinterpretation. But fashion mirrors current events, so stay curious!”Jacopo Politi 

"A journey to Space" Collection. Courtesy Borsalino

"A journey to Space" Collection. © Courtesy Borsalino



Silvia Tarini
Editorial team