Who?

Stormy Kromer Mercantile

 

What?

Hats & Clothing

 

Where?

Ironwood Michigan  U.S.A.

 

Background

The founder of the company, George “Stormy” Kromer, was a semi-pro baseball player and railroad engineer at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Stormy had lost several winter hats to the wind while at his engineer’s post on the fast moving locomotives.  But Stormy’s wife Ida was a talented seamstress.  She made her husband a six-panel wool hat out of an old baseball cap.  The cap had a durable visor and a band that could be pulled down over the ears in very cold conditions.  Ida’s creation was warm, comfortable and wind resistant.  Soon the couple was making the hat for other railroad workers and a business was born.

 

Today

Now, more than a hundred years later, the Stormy Kromer hat is still being manufactured in Ironwood, Michigan.  In addition to the classic Stormy Kromer the company makes several different model caps in a variety of patterns and colors.  Stormy Kromer Mercantile has also diversified and now has clothing lines for both men and women.

The Stormy Kromer classic looks somewhat like a baseball hat.  The ear band wraps around to the front of the cap and is secured with simple lace ties.  This gives the hat a distinctly “Elmer Fudd” look that often generates snickers from the uninitiated.  But the Stormy Kromer is all about high function not high fashion.  As such the classic Stormy Kromer hat (or “SK”) is popular in cold weather climes throughout America.

 

Rants/Tangents

I really detest baseball caps.  I like baseball and I like hats.  But it appears that the baseball cap has become the official uniform of the cretin army that has invaded America.  It seems that even real restaurants (where the staff need not wear headsets) is chock full of man-children wearing ratty ball caps at the table.  That’s just a personal pet peeve. 

On the street I see teenage boys with their pants hanging off their rear ends and a ball cap on sideways.  I’m sure this fashion trend began as some sort of urban non-conformist statement.  But the “gangster” kids I see are in the upper-middle class suburbs.  Their “hood” is the Starbucks downtown.  They talk a lot of smack, but they’d be in tears if a cop yelled at them for leaving the BMW in a handicapped parking space.  Quite frankly I would just like to slap them.

Another reason I hate ball caps is that they are essentially advertising vehicles.  The front panel on a baseball hat lends easily to printed commercial messages.  In my opinion spending money on a hat designed primarily to advertise someone else’s product is just plain silly.  Even if the hats are free for the taking I just don’t see why anyone would want their noggin to be used as a billboard.  I could go on, but that’s enough digression for one article.

 

Function

Despite my general disdain for baseball hats I love the Stormy Kromer.  The SK is warm, wind resistant and sheds water reasonably well.  The SK is made of high-grade wool and can last for decades.  My classic SK typically sees action when the temperatures are somewhere around freezing or below.  The SK really shines in the wind.  The hat stays put even in blustery New England winters.  Plus lowering the band keeps the old ears from freezing.  The sturdy visor helps keep the sun out of the eyes and falling snow off the face.  As an added bonus the hat remains comfortable throughout a long day out in the cold.  Not surprisingly the SK is incredibly popular with hunters and outdoorsmen.

In my opinion the SK is also perfectly appropriate for street wear.  You might look like Elmer Fudd, but so what?  Compared to the average ball cap wearer Elmer is quite a stylish and classy guy.  In addition the ear band tie across the front panel of the hat ensures that you won’t see an ad for a sneaker company or bail bondsman on an SK.

 

Summary

The Stormy Kromer is highly effective and very durable.  With a street price of under $40.00 the SK is also a very good value.  If you happen live anywhere the mercury dips and the winds howl you will appreciate the performance if not the looks of a Stormy Kromer cap.  An American original that is and should always remain made in America.

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