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A Kentucky Derby First: Pink Panama Hats at Churchill Downs
Ever seen a pink Panama hat? You will at this year's Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, where a new partnership is bringing fresh style to Churchill Downs and offering a tip of the ladies' brim toward the fight against breast cancer.
For the first time ever, the collection of official Derby Panama hats from the Panador Hat Company will include two hot, new pink styles for ladies that will raise the fashion bar at this year's PINK OUT Day at the Kentucky Oaks and the 137th Run for the Roses. The hats are made by artisans in Cuenca, Ecuador as part of a business partnership between the Evansville, Indiana-based company and the people of Ecuador.
The pink Panama hats may have been a long time coming, but they were a natural for Panador founder Walter Pieper. A stage four cancer survivor, Pieper wanted to do something special after Kentucky Derby officials named Panador the Official Panama Hat of the Derby. Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Horses and Hope have partnered with Churchill Downs to raise money for breast cancer research, awareness, screening and treatment.
"Many people associate the Panama hat with men, but the Fedora and Trilby ladies' hats we've created are going to look sensational on the women who wear them during the Oaks and Derby," Pieper said. "We are honored that we've been chosen to add some never-before-
The hats are available in two styles. The Pink Fedora Panama hat, with its classic silhouette, is the oldest style of Panama hats but very popular with celebrities and fashion-conscious people around the world. The Pink Panama Mini Brim Trilby comes with a one-inch brim and is a more sassy, stylish hat.
Panama hats are woven of toquilla straw, grown in Ecuador. No other straw, no other fiber, no other man-made material breathes like toquilla. The base of the Andes Mountains is the only place in the world where this straw grows in any quantity. There the trade winds of the Pacific Ocean create an optimum environment for toquilla palm to thrive.
Nearby, the city of Cuenca is uniquely situated for commercial weaving and finishing. A culture of handicraft and artistry in Cuenca preserves and passes the art of weaving from one generation to the next. Authentic Panama hats are individually hand-woven of toquilla straw-each hat is a unique achievement of the artist who wove it.
As the Official Panama Hat of the 137th Kentucky Derby, Panador has created a line of 13 different types of hats that are now available through the Derby's online store, at www.PanadorHats.com and at the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in Louisville, May 6-7.
In honor of the Derby, Panador produced a limited edition of 137 Montecristi of Cuenca hats. Numbered from 1-137, the hats will be must-haves for those who want something really special. In addition, the first two hats in the series will be sold in a special auction that will also benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For more information, visit www.PandorHats.com.
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The Panador Hat Company sells only handwoven straw hats — Panama hats — made by Ecuadorian artisans. They are the finest Panama hats in the world.