Kangol Columbus Ave

Kangol Columbus Ave

Photo: Kangol

Neighborhood: West 60s
Type of Place: Hat Shops Kids


So my friends Jen and Ivy and I went to a Summerstage concert today and had a great time on a sunny afternoon—hardly a cloud in the sky. Then Jen had to take off, and while Ivy and I went to find some dinner, a few clouds were rolling in; by the time we were seated (outside, but under an awning), it was raining. Then it was *pouring*—so much so that, awning or no, everyone outside got drenched and had to move in. And then, for a while, it was sunny *and* pouring. We damp diners shook off the rain, shook our heads, and laughed.

What to do with the wacky weather? Heading down Columbus Avenue after dinner (it had stopped raining by then but was, somehow, still humid), Ivy and I spotted a Kangol shop. Aha! The British company, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, is iconic in the hat world. With sun hats, rain hats, and lots of hats in between, it's got you covered.

Actually, it's had various household names covered over the years. The Beatles wore Kangols, as did Princess Diana. L.L. Cool J. has been pictured in them, as has Eminem. And most in-public photos of Samuel L. Jackson show him in his backward-turned Kangol "Spitfire" cap.

Many think the company's Australian—as I did, too, when I entered the shop. But no; their trademark kangaroo logo came about because people misremembered the company name and asked for "kangaroo" hats. Meanwhile, the name was actually derived from a combination of the words "silk," "angora," and "wool." Got that? OK; on to the merchandise.

While Ivy tried styles on and cheerfully sang "I'm—too sexy for my hat—," I got busy taking notes. The first model I reached for was the "Sweetcorn Collette," made from 30% corn fiber ($55, available in melon and gold). A great selection of baseball caps was on sale at 25% off—black with a green kangaroo, blue with a green stripe and a blue kangaroo, and brown-and-black or red-and-black "Duocheck" prints, among others. A cute reversible sun hat featured pink, orange, and yellow checks on one side and a black background with pink and yellow stripes on the other (now 25% off $55). The "Neocheck Havana" newsboy cap ($66) was charming in black, yellow, white, and turquoise checks. Most of what's available for adults is unisex; and, as is often the case, the kids' selection will make you wish they offered the same styles in bigger sizes (a blue-and-white-gingham baseball cap is now 20% off $30; I was so busy smiling at a child's yellow rain hat with blue polka dots that I forgot to record the price).

In addition to the wide variety of practical, well-made, and charming hats (with new models coming soon for fall, but let's not think about that right now!), there are bags, purses, visors, and sunglasses. And for the Kangol enthusiast, there's a limited-edition model to honor the company's 70th anniversary: a newsboy style in black wool, numbered (only 700 were made), generated by the company's original methods (which have since been modernized a bit), and with a hatbox included ($85).

Cue up the rain hats: As I type, I hear thunder. But tomorrow may well be a sun hat day; at least for part of the time!

  - Pamela Grossman; July 26, 2009

Kangol Columbus Ave
196 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10023
(212) 724-1172