designer spotlight : Hey Sailor!

Even in the uncertain economic climate of today, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” appears to hold as much weight as ever. If exquisitely opulent headwear is what your heart lusts after, it’s wisest to opt for an investment piece that is truly built to last. Kat Toronto of Hey Sailor! rises to the occasion.

interview by Vanity Kills

In recent years, accessory boutique chains latched onto the tiny top hat trend seemingly for dear life. It’s now easier than ever to affix a mass manufactured concoction of felt, marabou feathers, and sequins to your head for the low, low price of $12.99. Alas, it is advised that the ladies who pride themselves on rejecting the concept of disposable “fast fashion” , who long to add handmade tricorns, pillboxes, and cloches crafted with utmost skill and care to their accessory arsenal, to seek out San Francisco based master milliner Kat Toronto of Hey Sailor! So, if you dream of a nine-inch pirate ship sailing on a bed of hot pink PVC, pleat trims of whimsically striped fabric, and chenille dot veils decorating your ‘do, Kat can bring it to reality. And that’s just one way Hey Sailor’s splurge-worthy treasures can up your style ante at the drop of a hat.

Your venture into millinery began when you fashioned fancy head adornments to rock at events where you sang for the band Ragwater Revue. Despite your original desire to handicraft one-of-a-kind accessories intended solely for personal use, at Ragwater Revue’s shows, people offered to buy the hats right off your head which must’ve felt positively exhilarating. What did these proto-Hey Sailor! concept hats look like?

Kat Toronto : Many of the hats I created in the very beginning were fashioned from bits and pieces of vintage hats that I had procured while thrift shopping or on eBay. I absolutely love playing with slightly tattered and torn bits of vintage clothing and turning them into new garments or accessories, this is where Hey Sailor! Hats had its humble beginnings. While working on my BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute I created a collection of garments from recycled vintage clothing and vintage fabrics so I think it was just natural that this transferred over into my hat making. Although I greatly enjoyed creating these early hats from vintage materials I soon realized that I wanted to know more about the technique, trade, and history of millinery. So began my serious venture into handmade millinery, and ultimately, Hey Sailor! Hats.

read the full interview in the February/March 2011 Issue

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