Why the leather hat is so special to Frans?

LN: we are curious to your story about the leather hat. How did you got this hat.

I got this hat as a present from my good friend Joost, who unfortunately died a few years ago. He made this hat by himself approx. 8 years ago with leather I supplied him with and he liked very much. He was an exquisite leather technician who worked, both in the tannery as well as in the supply chain for many years. After his retirement he started with two hobbies: making leather hats for friends and tanning fish leather on a bigger scale. First in his garage with the aid of an old washing machine, later he advised a bigger company in the North of the Netherlands to produce fish skins on production scale.

LN: Tell us about your pilgrimage to Santiago the Compostella together with your hat.

The leather hat I made water resistant with some products from Stahl, the company I worked for many, many years to prevent it from getting wet, hence heavy. If you go on a long trip you do not want to carry 10 grams too much and also I decorated it myself with scallops. During the 700-kilometre trek to Vezelay (F), my trusty leather hat was invaluable. It protected me from the unpredictable weather changes, shielding me from the relentless rain that fell suddenly and the relentless sun that beat down on me during the day. As I traversed the ancient path, the hat became a symbol of both the practicality and intention behind my pilgrimage.

LN: Why did you decorated the hat with scallops?

Scallops are the symbol of the road to Santiago de Compostela, you will find them all over Europe to guide the way. Every pilgrim to Santiago will have a scallop on his backpack, so you are able to identify a fellow walker immediately. This will also lead to very interesting meetings along the way.

LN: What does this hat mean to you?

The hat is more than an accessory; it is a tangible connection to my good friend Joost and was my travelling companion during this extraordinary experience. As the seasons changed and life went on, the hat remained a treasured relic of my pilgrimage, to Santiago de Compostela.

LN: Where is the hat now?

The hat is hanging in my “man cave” and got a nice place between a lot of other symbols of my life, mostly presents which I assembled during my interesting life in the beautiful world of making leather.

LN: Thank you for sharing your personal story Frans.

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