In the mountains, a hat can be an Aspenite’s best friend—shielding the face from sun, rain and snow. But, recently, the necessity of the head covering has turned into a standard for elevating individual style. No need for hats off when it comes to these local milliners.
Susan Carrolan Millinery
Susan Carrolan and her hats have been a fixture at the Aspen Saturday Market for a decade. She spent the 10 years before that making hats for Broadway productions, before moving to Aspen. That’s when the popularity of her felt handstitched cowboy hats, which she makes in the winter season, in particular, took off. “People realize a hat can add a touch of individual style to any outfit,” she says. “It can establish a signature look.” Bloomingbirds, 461 E. Hopkins Ave.; The Little Nell, 675 E. Durant Ave.; Aspen Outfitting Company at The St. Regis, 315 E. Durant Ave.
According to Kemo Sabe President Wendy Kunkle, the Western store’s signature Grit line officially launched in 2015, but the distressed-style hats have been around since 1990. Handcrafted in Basalt, Grit, defined by shorter crowns and brims, along with lighter bodies, have great appeal to the “noncowboy world” and translate well to city life, she says. “Our hats exude the romance of the ’20s and ’30s, the era of the cowboy,” says Kunkle. “Customers relate to our Grit line like a memory of finding their grandfather’s treasured hat.” 217 S. Galena St.
Five years ago, milliner Chris Roberts moved to Aspen. He says his hats—all custom made—are “a personal experience between the hat and the client.” Described as a mix of cowboy with Indian styles, Roberts’ hats have been seen on everyone from actor Pierce Brosnan and musician Lukas Nelson to baseball All-Star Mookie Betts, and have been solidified as a part of the Aspen look. “I don’t think Aspen needed to be influenced,” says Roberts, “but I love that people love the styles we create.” 465 N. Mill St.
Photography by: Pat Sudmeier