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Matthew Allsopp

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The Fedora
a.k.a. "The Hat"

More memorable than any other item of Indy’s clothes is his signature rumpled brown fedora. The wearing of a broad brimmed hat, even a fedora, is nothing new to adventure films. Since the beginning of adventure filmmaking, white explorer types have always worn one of two items, either a pith helmet or a broad brimmed hat. The pith helmet was usually more of a military application, such as in Gunga Din, and the felt hat was more often seen on non-military adventurers.

click to enlarge
One of the good Raiders
fedora reproductions,
available from
Adventurebilt Hats.

We can trace the use of safari hats in film back to the Tarzan movies of the 1930s as well as safari adventures of the 1950s, such as King Solomon’s Mines and Mogambo. However, Indiana Jones’ hat, while used in a safari and adventure capacity is actually not an outdoors hat in the strictest sense. Rather, his hat is a dress fedora normally worn in a more urban setting with dressier clothes. Keep in mind however that hats of the 1930s, even dressier hats, were very well made and could take an impressive amount of abuse. The brown dress fedora as an adventure hat can been seen in films like China and Secret of the Incas.

click to enlarge
Herbert Johnson no
longer has the
hat, but they still offer
ToDoom and
Last Crusade versions.

Naturally, this was the hat of choice for Indiana Jones, a character wholly based on older movie adventurers. Raiders of the Lost Ark costume designer Deborah Nadoolman, in our interview, said that they found the hat at Herbert Johnson hat shop in London, and that it was an "Australian" model. With a little tinkering and trimming, it became the famous Indiana Jones fedora. According to other sources, Harrison Ford found the hat at Herbert Johnson himself and personally tried it on. Regardless of the correctness of exact details, the original hat came from the Herbert Johnson hat shop in London.

The hat in Raiders is very distinct with a tight front pinch, a wide brim and a rather tall crown. By the time Temple of Doom came around, that particular hat was no longer available and Herbert Johnson supplied their "Poet" hat as a substitute. This hat would also be used in Last Crusade. The "Poet" has a more tapered and shorter crown and can still be acquired from Herbert Johnson today.

click to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlarge
Comparing the different fedora's used in
Raiders, Temple of Doom and Last Crusade.

In Temple of Doom there are rumors that Stetson, who manufactured licensed replicas of the hat as part of the merchandising campaign for the film, got a few of their lids into the movie. This has never been confirmed, but the hat does change significantly from scene to scene.


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