It was a chance encounter with a Venice Beach cowboy that pulled Nick Fouquet into the world of hatmaking. Inquiring about the stranger’s chapeau, Fouquet learned that the wearer had made it himself. “It was different. I could tell that it had a soul,” he recalls. “It’s hard to describe the feeling, but I was like, ‘That’s a real hat.’ ” Enamored, Fouquet delved into men’s millinery, teaching himself the craft and forging his own irreverent style, eventually leaving his job of making clothing inspired by the WWI and II eras for Hollywood. “It was a passion that turned into an obsession, and then into a business,” he says.
Like many, Fouquet saw hats as a vestige of a bygone time, part of the uniform of midcentury salarymen. He aimed to make trilbies and ten-gallons more in line with his school of SoCal surfer bohemia. “The marketplace was just Borsalino and Stetson, guys making stuff for the old guard,” he recalls. “It was stale, boring.”
Fouquet favors a more wabi-sabi look: Hats are artfully singed and nicked, and accented with vintage textiles and found ephemera.
His singular aesthetic has attracted a cult following, including Bob Dylan and Pharrell. Handmade at his Abbot Kinney studio, Fouquet’s designs are converting more men to the power of a well-chosen hat. But unlike the polite fedoras of the past, Fouquet says his are “as unique and eclectic as the people who wear them.”