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Glady Tamez is a Mexican designer living in LA and single-handedly taking the global hat industry by storm. Beloved by everyone from Beyonce to Kendall Jenner to Erin Wasson to superfan Johnny Depp, the designer—who launched Gladys Tamez Millinery in 2012—has swiftly becoming a go-to for both superstars and blogstars willing to pay top dollar for her high quality, handmade creations. (She's notorious for having a no-gifting policy, so every hat you see on a celeb is an authentic investment.)
Recently, Tamez's eclectic range of influential clients made the rare late-night appearance to attend the launch party for her Zodiac collection. Fascinated by the movement she's clearly creating, we stopped by the designer's DTLA design studio to hear more about her bestsellers, the hat style she wants to put a pause on, and the brand's next big plans. (Hint: a storefront!)
What inspired your latest collection?
I'm a mystic; I believe in signs. For two years I've been thinking about how to incorportate the zodiac sign in a collection. Each hat features the lines of a different zodiac sign. I used the zodiac colors, too, but styles also come in black. The collection is doing very well. I'm so happy about that.
Your attention to detail is genius. How often do you release a collection, and are they always this conceptual?
We drop a collection twice a year. Every collection has a big story behind it. For instance, our Ecclesiastical collection from fall/winter 2014 was all about religion. The Saint Francis hat was inspired by the Pope's ceremonial headdress. There are also styles with references to cathedrals, horns of devil, nuns, and crosses.
What's your bestselling hat to date?
The Bianca from our Fashion Icon collection. It was inspired by Bianca Jagger in the '70s; every girl looks good in it. Florench Welch of Florence and the Machine owns five of them in every color.
After seeing Saint Laurent's extra-wide brim hat going for $1,400, we wanted to create an iconic collection at a price point that people could afford. Of course, some of our hats do go up to $3,000, but you're paying for quality.
Speaking of quality, what sets your production apart from others?
Every single hat is handmade, and each hat takes about five to eight hours to make. Normally hatmakers wear gloves, but our guys do everything by hand, which is why they're so precise. And the machines we use are 100 years old. We only use the highest quality of fabrics, like felt velour. I never use wool.
I want these hats to be something that you keep forever, so we use nothing but the best materials.
Who are some of your hat icons?
I love Clint Eastwood. Also, I come from a bullfighting family, so I grew up around bullfighters. Since the official bullfighter hat is the bolero, I always include one in the line.
What hat style do you think is overdone?
Fedora hats are classic, but I think they're overdone—especially the ones with a short brim. A lot of hipsters wear them.
Besides hats, what other accessories are you a collector of?
I really love sunglasses from the '70s. You should see my collection!
Does this mean a Gladys Tamez accessories collection is in the works?!
We're definitely talking about it.
What's next for the brand?
We're currently scouting locations for our first storefront. It will be somewhere on the Eastside.