Stuff That Works — Baldwin Custom Hat & Boot Co.
(article by Jim Cornelius, Frontier Partisans)
Sometimes you get lucky. I’m a hat guy — have been since I was a little kid — and I live in a small town in Oregon that is also home to an award-winning custom hat maker. Lucky.
I have two Gene Baldwin custom hats. One is my “everyday” hat, which I bought myself for my birthday about six or seven years ago. When I say everyday, I mean EVERY DAY. That’s more than 2,000 days. I’ve sweat it through on hikes and working outdoors, used it for a rifle rest and generally treated it rough. You can see the wear and tear on it — wear and tear that would have killed a lesser hat long ago. Believe me, I’ve killed a few hats.
It’s stained and it’s getting tattered, but damn if it don’t have character. I’ll wear that hat till it rots off my bleached skull.
The other Baldwin is one that a dear friend bough for me at an art auction — and it’s one of the three finest things I own, along with my CZ rifle and my Breedlove guitar. 100 percent beaver felt and as classy as you can find. I’m wearing it more these days as the everyday hat gets a little too much character for work or stage.
Gene has won numerous awards for his hats. They’re stylish and most importantly comfortable. I’ve got a pretty easy hat-head — most any 7-1/4 hat will fit me. Still, there’s nothing like a custom fit. And to get really good, durable felt, you almost have to go custom.
Gene’s a Western fella — he knows his way around horses — but he’s not limited to “cowboy” hats. That battered ol’ hat of mine is really an oversized fedora. Gene listens to his customers and makes the hat they want, not the hat he thinks they ought to have. If you wanted a derby I’m sure Gene could accommodate. You pay for custom, but you’re paying for quality and you get good value. His prices are well in line with other customs and better than most.
Check out Gene’s website, which was created by my friend, bandmate, photographer and fellow Baldwin hat-wearer Lynn Woodward.
Bet you’ll want one. It’s stuff that works.