As a natural redhead, nothing pleased me more than when sun safety got cool. Over the past few years, sunscreen has become a beauty essential; rash shirts have had a glow up, and the chapeaux is finally in vogue. Even though the extra-extra-extra large straw styles that Jacquemus sent down the runway for Spring 2018 were less than practical, they sparked a wave of fashionable headwear that has gone from strength to strength every season since.

While a smattering of freckles might signify the joys of time outdoors, we’re known as the sunburnt country for a reason. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, with approximately 2000 deaths from the disease recorded in Australia each year. Ultraviolet rays also accelerate signs of ageing.

Here is proof that there’s a hat for every head – from soft, packable styles that are perfect for holidays to straw boaters that channel European glamour.

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Jace Banu

Jace Banu’s hats are designed in Australia and handwoven in Ecuador and Madagascar. The collection has vintage appeal thanks to romantic silhouettes and a pared-back colour palette. The brand has just launched its Cyla bucket hat in six spiral colourways for summer. The style is inspired by the history and culture of the Sicilian beachside town Cefalù.

Lee Mathews

Crafted as part of the brand’s Workroom collection, an organic cotton drill hat by Lee Mathews is a timeless staple. In classic neutrals (pieces in white, black, brown and taupe are currently available), the soft-yet-structured bucket silhouette features a deep crown and stitched brim.

Bianca Boyd

Melbourne-based designer Bianca Boyd crafts what is best described as the perfect picnic hat. Wide-brimmed and in a collection of colourful prints (although most offer a plain reverse), each piece is made by hand and with intention. The brands collaboration with fellow sustainably minded label, Katharina Lou: six styles in leftover deadstock are available on a made-to-order basis.

Avenue The Label

The problem with wide-brim hats is having to carry them around without squishing the raffia out of shape when they're not on your head. But Avenue the Label has devised the perfect packable style: the Fornillo sunhat. The Sydney brand offers the hand crocheted style in chocolate brown and classic beige, and it can be rolled or folded into your tote or travel bag as needed. The cotton canvas Sabine style is rated UPF50+ and also stashes away quite nicely.

Marle

New Zealand label Marle has grown a steady following thanks to its considered essentials and slow fashion ethos. And its hats don't disappoint. The new-season Kuia hat is made from chocolate and black straw raffia, while the Baba and Abuela silhouettes come in classic cotton canvas.

Alpha60

If anyone can make a drawstring bucket hat cool, it’s Melbourne label Alpha60. The brand’s signature Saya hat is cut from cotton canvas and comes in a range of classic colours and prints. These broad-brimmed beauties are complete with a wire insert to help hold shape, no matter how you style it.

Rutt

Limited edition, low quantity, low impact: this is the Rutt philosophy. The Sydney-based brand’s signature Antena style is a hand-crocheted bucket, made by a second-generation family artisan workshop in Lima, Peru. Working in collaboration with Endery, designer Rachel Rutt is passionate about repurposing yarn and upcycling deadstock fabrics across her entire range, which includes bags, bottle slings and bikinis.

Lucy Folk

Lucy Folk’s hats are summer staples. The brand is known for its nomadic-inspired design and handmade jewellery collection. But equal care is given to the embroidered canvas and signature towelling pieces, which are made by artisans in India and Morocco.

EM on Holiday

Fans of EM on Holiday’s whimsical, printed ready-to-wear will be familiar with the Sydney brand’s lighthearted hat offering. Caps embroidered with phrases like “carpe diem'' and “room service” speak the label’s tongue-in-cheek language fluently. It's hard to pass a city beach without spotting one of the hibiscus-printed or checked drawcord sun hats on show.

Helen Kaminski

Craftsmanship shines through each one of Helen Kaminski’s designs. The range is full of classic raffia designs like the Jeany, Prima 8 and Classic 5. The corduroy Pazia style is a great option to pack and go.

Topi Time

Conceived as a pastime during Melbourne’s lockdowns, Topi Time is more than just a passion project for self-taught sewer-made-milliner Rhian Wilkins. Featuring materials that are sourced second-hand or from deadstock, the collection of playful pieces are mostly made to order. The Tulip sunhat is a take on a classic cork hat, while the Patchcake bucket is made from an upcycled blanket found at an op-shop. For every hat sold, $1.50 is donated to Greenfleet, an initiative for planting native forests in Australia and New Zealand to offset carbon emissions.

Assembly Label

Easy-wearing logo caps and classic raffia bucket hats are yet another reason to love Assembly Label’s refined approach to wardrobe basics. Throw one of these styles in your beach bag and stay shady all summer long.

E Nolan

One of our favourite brands for shirts and suiting, E Nolan's limited edition caps are made with Liberty London printed cotton. The classic six panel construction fits with a low profile and has a customisable circumference. The Melbourne label's signature fly motif also stamps the back.

Lack of Colour

Lack of Colour’s signature fedoras flooded festivals and Instagram feeds following its launch in 2011. Twelve years on and the brand has not lost its shine. Architectural straw styles like the Scalloped Dolce hat and domed Cove are sure to make a statement. But offbeat takes on trending bucket silhouettes are summer favourites, too: see the Wave and Holiday.

This article was first published on February 10, 2023 and has since been updated.

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