The Coonskin Cap
The above mini-gallery was inspired by the vintage coonskin cap I just found on thrifting duty—plus the attraction of fur anything in January. Added to my find’s plush folksy wildness was the warmth of recognizing the menswear icon that the coonskin cap is, however humble. I couldn’t call it nostalgia since I never had one growing up, but the fur hat with the striped tail was nonetheless instantly familiar from television and film. Taking it for granted made me want an example for the shop and to know more about its significance too.
Raccoon hats were originated by Native Americans and adopted by frontiersman during their 17th and 18th century Westward expansion. When Fess Parker (pictured second from top) wore a coonskin cap in his 1950s Disneyland portrayal of Davy Crockett, he sparked one of the largest fads in fashion history among American and English boys. That fad had largely run its course by the time Parker again donned his coonskin cap to star in the Daniel Boone TV show that ran from the mid-60s to 70s (although Daniel Boone never really wore one himself).
In recent years, there was reportedly a resurgence of coonskin caps among Brooklynites and others in metropolitan areas prone to sartorial irony, as well as raccoon sightings on fashion runways, but their popularity didn’t seem strong enough to constitute a full fashion trend–certainly nothing like the 5000 coonskin caps sold a day during their 50s boom! Perhaps that number explains why vintage ones are still readily available online. Of course, if that’s too much/not enough irony for you, there are also plenty of online tutorials like this one, which will show you how to make your very own.