Alessandria, the charming Piedmontese city where Borsalino was born in 1857, is now home to the brand’s first museum, opening its doors on April 4th. An exciting opportunity to explore the incredible story of the Italian hatmaker and its legendary hats, which have influenced fashion for more than a century.
Borsalino’s history is as captivating as its iconic hats. The brand’s founder, Giuseppe Borsalino, left his village at just twelve years old and travelled to France to work as an apprentice hatter. After perfecting his craft in Paris, Borsalino returned to Alessandria in 1857 and set up his own business with his brother Lazzaro. His innovative felt hat, the Fedora, quickly gained popularity, with its flexible and easy-to-grip shape that made it perfect for men who embodied masculine elegance.
Borsalino’s success soon spread beyond Italy, and the brand became synonymous with high-quality, stylish hats. The demand for Borsalino hats was so great that the company opened a massive factory in Alessandria in 1888. Designed by architect Arnaldo Gardella, the 50,000 square meter building employed up to 6,000 people and produced up to two million hats per year at its peak on the eve of World War I.
Now, nearly 600 square meters of this impressive factory building have been transformed into the Borsalino museum. The museum houses a collection of over 2,000 hats, including the brand’s most iconic designs, along with 200 recent acquisitions. The tour is organized around eight themes that tell the story of the brand’s fascinating history.
Visitors to the museum can admire Borsalino hats on historic wooden shelves, just as they were once displayed in the factory’s offices. The tour takes visitors through the major stages of the company’s evolution, from the early days when the brand first became popular with the bourgeoisie, to the golden era of advertising posters created by renowned illustrators like Marcello Dudovich, Max Huber and Armando Testa.
Borsalino’s influence on the world of fashion and style is immeasurable. The brand’s success continued through the 20th century, thanks in part to its popularity among politicians and celebrities. Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, and Robert de Niro are just a few of the famous faces who have worn Borsalino hats both on and off the screen. The brand even experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to the cinema, with hats featuring prominently in films like Federico Fellini’s Eight and a Half and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.
The Borsalino museum is a testament to the brand’s incredible legacy and its ongoing commitment to quality and craftsmanship. The museum’s opening is an exciting event for hat enthusiasts, fashion lovers, and anyone interested in Italian culture and history. The museum is owned by the city of Alessandria but managed by the Borsalino Foundation, chaired by Philippe Camperio, the businessman at the head of the management company Haeres Equita, which bought Borsalino in 2018.
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