6 International Retro Hats & Headwear of the World

Beyond the stitches and past the patchwork, what do hats and different types of headwear really symbolize? At our vintage snapback and clothing store, we often perceive the hats in our inventory as works of art. But in their simplest forms, the snapbacks and hats we sell are just nice looking pieces of apparel that you might use either for style or function. We put them on and take them off quite casually, storing our less precious retro hats in bins next to mittens and shoes. And for the most part, you probably don’t pay much mind to them besides when you’re wearing or looking for one!

But not everyone in this world of ours shares such a come and go relationship with their hats and headwear. For a lot of people, what they place on their head goes so much further than just a piece of apparel. Whether it be for religious reasons, status representation, or even for survival, there are a lot of purposes that different types of hats and headwear serve across the world. 


retro fez hat

An incredibly old and still popular vintage hat in the middle east goes by the name of, “Fez”. And no, it’s not the Fez from That 70’s Show. This Fez is a smallish, cylindrical, felt hat that dates all the way back to the 17th century. It was conceived around 980 AD when several people were redirected to the city of Fez while taking part in Hajj, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. There, this headpiece was born, intended to be worn as a symbol of intelligence and a claim to one’s bloodline.



The yarmulke is a skull cap worn by people who follow the religion of Judiasm. While Orthodox Jewish men always wear a yarmulke or kippah, those who are more liberal or reform consider it optional, oftentimes only wearing one while praying, attending the synagogue, or at a religious event or festival. We might also add that we’ve seen yarmulkes and kippahs of all sorts of designs and colors, even a Denver Broncos one just the other day. From a design/aesthetic standpoint, it reminds of us the variation we see in the vintage snapbacks on our shelves.



Made of cloth, the turban is a type of headwear worn by people of various cultures. The turban is very common among Sikhs, or, adherents of Sikhism, including women. In addition to Sikhism, another religion that observes turbans as a sign of religious faith includes Shia Muslims. But not everyone who has worn a turban did so for religious purposes. Historically, royals and people associated with nobility like kings and empresses would wear them to show their status. And we thought we were flexing wearing vintage snapbacks



The ushanka is probably one of the more familiar hats on this list. You might even own one yourself and keep it in your collection of retro hats. Originating in Russia, these warm, winter hats clearly show what their purpose is - to keep your ears from freezing off and your skull from turning into a snowcone. Dating all the way back to the 1600s, the ushanka was essential in Russian wardrobes as it helped thousands get through brutally cold winters. Today, ushankas have become a relatively popular fashion item and can be seen in areas across the world.



Similar to the ushanka, in terms of functionality, you have the Ayam, a Korean hat worn for protection against the cold. Also called Aegeom, which translates to “covering a forehead,” this particular old school hat was most commonly worn by women in the Joseon period (1392-1910). While the Ayam is certainly considered a vintage hat, people have been known to decorate them with beautiful jewels and luxurious tassels, making them also a part of more formal attires. 



For our last stop, we’re taking you to the Land Down Under where kangaroos roam and the swell always hits - Australia. Australia is known for a lot of things, but when it comes to old school hats, only one thing comes to mind - Akubra - a badass name for an even more badass retro hat made famous by Crocodile Dundee. Because the heat can get so excruciating and the sun, so bright, Australians needed a way to stay cool while also keeping the light out of their eyes. And thus, Akubra was born, a lightweight, waterproof hat made out of felt fur. Just don’t call it a cowboy hat!

There are several types of retro hats and cultural headwear across this world of ours. These 6 were only just a few among several more incredibly powerful and beautiful garments. As a vintage snapback and clothing store that continues to find inspiration beyond our own country land, highlighting these areas is incredibly important to us. And we encourage you to do exploring of your own and to learn things outside of your circumference. Who knows what it might inspire you to do?