How do we decide how much to pay for a hat?
- count the weave,
- decide if the rows are straight and even,
- make sure there are no problems with the straw color, holes, damage, etc.
We also measure the size of the hat, the crown height, the brim width. All of these factors are considered when determining a price for the hat.
We use the same system for everyone. Sometimes we pay more than the weavers ask. (see related story) Sometimes we do not buy. We explain our prices and our reasons. No mysteries, no games, no gotcha. We do not try to get the best of them. They are not our adversaries; they are our heroes. In business terms: without them there is no business. For us to survive, they must survive. For us to flourish, they must flourish.
We want the weavers to understand the value of their hats, what makes one hat worth more than another, how to weave hats that will bring higher prices. We believe weavers will weave better hats if they understand exactly what “better” means, and exactly how much more it pays.
New Montecristi Hat Grading System
In 2002 we published on the Brent Black web site a new grading system for Montecristi Panama hats, beginning with a formula for counting the fineness of the weave: the Montecristi Cuenta. The Montecristi Cuenta weave count has become the industry and Internet standard for comparing Montecristi Panama hats. We soon will expand the system to include measurements/indicators of Weave Quality and Straw Color.
When you are buying a diamond, the four factors that determine the price are Carats, Clarity, Color, Cut. The four factors one would use to “grade” a Montecristi hat are: Weave Fineness (how many rows of weave per inch), Weave Quality (how straight and even are the rows), Straw Color, Blocking. The “4 C’s” are a lot easier to remember than this hat grading system. FQSB isn’t very catchy, is it? Suggestions welcome.