— to sell them.
weeks later the online shopping site had been featured
three times on Vogue.com, more than tripling Hat Covet’s
page views from 200 or 300 a day to 1,000. Right now,
Hat Covet sells about two dozen hats a week, not bad for
a brand-new fashion start-up.
Bazaar, as well as a handful of popular bloggers like
Boston-based Allie Wears and Philadelphia-based
"The Red Bag Report" have reached out to the
Hat Covet ladies as well.
bought a beautiful, gray and brown hat with a rim, and
it’s just gorgeous," said Emily White, senior
director of business operations at San Francisco-based
35, met Irwin a few months ago while visiting friends in
Philadelphia. The meeting inspired a purchase, and in
the following weeks, White posted the Hat Covet website
on her Facebook page and urged friends in social media’s
elite to buy.
hats had been tucked away and hidden from the world, and
now these women are bringing them to a younger
generation of women," White said.
three years ago, hats started gaining popularity with
the most eccentric of today’s trendsetters, from Nicki
Minaj to Lady Gaga. (One of Gaga’s milliners, Brenda
Waites Bolling, recently came to Bernard’s Salon and
Day Spa in Cherry Hill, N.J., for a trunk show.)
April 2011, Philip Treacy fascinators donned by both
European royalty and Victoria Beckham at the wedding of
Prince William and Catherine Middleton were just as big
a deal as Middleton’s Alexander McQueen wedding frock.
or bowler, bonnet or boater, I was never a fan of hats.
They were too diva-esque for my taste, and I associated
them with pantyhose and gloves, remnants of a bygone era
— one I was glad I missed.
with every Pinterest posting and Throwback Thursday
update, hats in all of their Kentucky Derby-esque
elegance are becoming cool again.
all, we’ve embraced everything vintage (and
vintage-inspired) from 1930s A-line sheaths, 1950s
fit-and-flare dresses, and 1970s bohemian skirts. So a
cloche — especially with a dash of netting — can
pull together an old-school look in a very current way.
If only I could get all of my locks under one.
BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)
Hat Covet, both Mackey and Irwin wanted to become
businesswomen in Philadelphia. They had the marketing
background, but they didn’t know what they wanted
their focus to be.
29, moved here from New York in March to be closer to
her fiance. While in New York, she was one-half of the
Mackey Morgan Showroom, where she represented designers
such as Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, and Bibhu
28, grew up in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill, and after
graduating from the University of New Hampshire, worked
at a boutique public relations firm in Florida. She
moved back home in 2009 and eventually landed a job
selling menswear at Ralph Lauren at the Hyatt at the
Bellevue in Philadelphia, where she made fashion
the same time, Irwin began establishing herself in
social circles, including becoming a member of the Young
Friends of the Academy of Music and the Philadelphia
Museum of Art. She attended restaurateur Jose Garces’
Halloween house party last month.
Waxman, a friend of Mackey’s fiance, is a principal at
MM Partners, the real estate development team that’s
gentrifying Brewerytown, the neighborhood just west of
Fairmount Park nestled between Girard and Oxford
of its current projects is redeveloping the building
that once housed the Hat Shoppe, an African
American-owned boutique that specialized in selling
"church hats" — a fixture at 29th and Girard
since the 1940s that closed in 2010.
cleaning the building, Waxman discovered about 3,000
hats left by the former owner, and offered them to Irwin
and Mackey because he knew of the women’s interest in
went over there because, well, we just wanted to check
it out," Irwin said.
when we saw the hats, we knew we had to have them,"
Mackey said. "We wrote a check on the spot."
paid about $1 a hat.
the inspirational gems were brown, navy, and orange
bowlers courtesy of iconic millinery salon Adolfo,
dozens of pink and red broad-brims by Oscar de la Renta,
and purple caps with feathered detailing labeled Halston.
and Mackey spent the next weeks cleaning and
categorizing the haute headpieces using special cleaners
and brushes, ending up with about a thousand salable
hats. They augmented their collection by scouring
private estate sales and trolling vintage shops, adding
a couple thousand more to the mix. Generally the hats
sell for $150 to $300, although a Chanel can fetch more
two taught themselves HTML code and built their own
website — a black-and-white photo of Jacqueline
Onassis Kennedy wearing a trademark pillbox is the home
the next few weeks, Mackey and Irwin will open an online
shop within Hat Covet to sell vintage jewelry, which
fits into their philosophy: Only the rare is worth
you buy a hat from hatcovet.com, you’d be pressed to
find someone else wearing your hat," Irwin said.