Australian hat retailers have reported increased demand is behind a hat shortage driving some customers to wait up to two and a half years to get their hands on their favourite wide-brim styles.
Rockhampton retailers, Mavericks Western Wear and Georges Workwear & Country Outfitters reported a shortage on a range of domestic and imported hat brands - likely due to supply chain challenges following COVID.
Mavericks Manager Manager Kerrie Hamilton said the shop has started importing hats via sea as aviation shipping prices had increased dramatically.
She reported having had felt hats on order from US brand American Hat Company for the last two years, and expected shipments to arrive by October 2023.
"It is a very good quality hat," she said. "When they arrive it will be two and a half years that people are waiting for their hats."
Mavericks also stocks US brand Serratelli, but Ms Hamilton reported the same issue.
"We're losing sales because we don't have the actual products in stock," said Ms Hamilton.
"America is struggling to keep up with America, let alone export them out to us, so that is a major issue for customers," she said.
Some online American publications have linked the demand in the US to the popularity of television shows such as Yellowstone, which feature western style 'cowboy' hats in costuming.
Also in the news:This is what happens to farm water in 12 months at MDBP deadline
Also in the news:Large scale farm asking $60 million-plus
"We try to help them out as much as we can by trying to find them a suitable alternative," she said.
General Manager Catherine George from Georges Workwear & Country Outfitters said having a wide range of products has helped the store cater to its customer base.
"We've always traditionally carried a lot of stock because our customers are from out of town and some of them have driven four or five, or even 12 hours to come to town," said Ms George.
She said the shop carried Australian wide-brim hat brands like Thomas Cook and Akubra and although there was some easing of supply chain demands, the delays were still being felt.
"The whole of Australia is light on hats," she said. "It's a challenge but we'll work around it."
Ms George said there were stock delays on Akubra, but less so on Thomas Cook hats.
"Thomas Cooke does a different hat for a different market- they do a lot of wool felts, but don't do the range of fur felts that Akubra does," she said.
A media spokesperson from Akubra said the shortage was due to significant increased demand in the domestic market.
The spokesperson said retailers would be feeling the pinch as the brand allocated out stock months in advance and said it could not compete with hats made overseas because the product was entirely Australian made.
The spokesperson said the shortage wasn't due to a lack of raw materials, but simply an influx in demand due to the popularity and growth of the brand.
"It's more modern and trendy to wear in an Akubra hat now than it has been for a very long time.
"There's more urban cowboys and cowgirls that want to wear our product," the spokesperson said.
The brand said where its traditional wearer may have been a farmer, city and country folk alike were now opting to wear hats regardless of location and especially on domestic trips around Australia.
Another driver in popularity, the spokesperson said, could be due to the generational shift towards wearing hats that aligned with increased sun safety messaging.