June 2, 2017
The Headwear Association Dinner Blog
In February I wrote a beautiful heart felt tribute to my friend and colleague Ruby Spitz - who passed away at the age of 88. I posted the blog on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. I received so many "likes," comments, shares and compliments that I knew I captured the essence of Ruby's soul. And I was honored that the Headwear Association's board of directors asked me to lead a memorial tribute to Ruby at their annual dinner.
Yes there really is a Headwear Association. It is actually the oldest industry trade association of its kind, 109 years old and counting. They have been meeting in New York City every spring since 1908! The goal of the association is to foster goodwill amongst its members and to promote the wearing of headwear. I'd say most of the leading brands participate. Recently, the Milliners Guild has joined the dinner and elevated the level of excitement. This year the dinner was held at the Boathouse in Central Park on April 27th and about 150 headwear enthusiasts attended.
Highlights of the evening
The dinner starts at 6 with cocktails and appetizers and at 7:00 the program begins. For the second year in a row a fashion show of the latest hat trends kicked off the agenda. Then, two major awards are presented annually - the Hat Retailer of The Year and the Lifetime Achievement award in honor of Ben Rosenthal. This year Clay Cavender of Cavender's Western Wear received the award for retailer of the year. There are not many businesses selling more hats then Cavenders – and Clay was very gracious to receive the honor. Aida O'Toole received the award for Lifetime achievement. She is the first woman to be recognized in the history of the award. Aida owns JJ Hat Center in New York City. Lastly, the Headwear Association endows a scholarship at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and this year's recipient was Juliana Caligaris.
The Real Highlight
But the real highlight of the evening (although I may be biased here, no I am biased here) was the memorial to Uncle Ruby. His daughter Ellen and her family (husband Ira and sons Justin and Daniel) were there to see the tribute. I can only imagine what Ruby would have thought. The room was captivated by his story. Ben Goorin put together a video of some of Ruby's finest thoughts and everybody felt his spirit. I was proud to be at the podium.
Few and Far Between
At the dinner, most of the attendees wore a hat. And the room looked dignified. It reminded me of the glory days for hatters (think of the spectators at any Major League ball park in the 1950's watching professional baseball – fedoras on almost every head). I've heard all the stories, opinions, excuses, and blames for why the hat disappeared from the daily uniform. It really doesn't matter. The fact is that most people do not wear hats in their daily lives. Caps yes – but brimmed hats, those folks are few and far between. So the mission continues. The next campaign for the Headwear Association is to create awareness - about how wearing brimmed hats can and do protect us from the harmful rays of the sun. Practical fashion, how about that? Retailers who offer a nice assortment of hats are also few and far between. But they are out there. We've just updated our web site with a list of retailers happy to be selling hats and the Broner brand. So final thought to the non-hat wearing crowd; try it you'll like it!
Ellen and me