How a crochet granny hat became a celebrity style grail

In April, just days after announcing his new album Sir. Morality and the great steppes, Kendrick Lamar attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game. He sat in the stands on the right among Dodgers faithful, surrounded by a sea of ​​blue baseball caps. His choice of headgear, however, stood out: A black and white crochet bucket hat, tall like a top hat and pulled low over the eyes like a beanie.

The only thing weirder than seeing Lamar embrace a bardcore aesthetic was continues to see him do it. According to NYC-based artist Emily Dawn Long, who designed the hat in collaboration with knitwear designer Maria Dora, Lamar has bought about 20 of them so far. And he appears to be wearing the hat, as Dawn Long dubbed it “Hat Named Wanda,” almost anytime he’s not wearing his diamond-encrusted titanium crown of thorns Made by Tiffany. As when he was recording Sir. Moralityand when he hit the stage at Coachella this spring, and beyond at a Spotify listening party in Ghana.

Unlike Kanye West, who can do it on his own inspire Twenty-something men to leave the house dressed like they’re about to wade through a swamp, Kendrick doesn’t rank among pop culture’s best oracles. He dresses comfortably and casually – kind of like an MFA student with a grail account. One gets the feeling that he does not take up fashion obsessions easily. His taste for the modest bucket hat does not mark the launch of a trend, but rather the culmination of one that has been building since the start of the pandemic. And that has helped make the Wanda the most understated status symbol in fashion.

The Wanda had a life before Kendrick. It all started in February 2020 when Dawn Long posted a few dozen Wandas on her website. There wasn’t much strategy behind the endeavor—after receiving dozens of compliments on a vintage bucket hat she owned, Dawn Long figured she’d have a go at making them herself. “It’s not really about making money,” she says. “I just like to make things that I like that I think people are kind of missing.” She teamed up with Dora, whose day job involves making knits for movies like The Hunger Gamesto find a manufacturer who could replicate the texture and shape of her beloved vintage version, and they eventually partnered with a manufacturer in Peru who works with indigenous women’s cooperatives specializing in crocheted goods.

The timing happened to coincide with the start of the global covid lockdown, just ahead of a return to crafty, homespun sensibilities, as everyone and their mother picked up a pair of crochet hooks – or at least started dressing like members of a knitting circle. The first run of a few dozen hats sold out almost immediately. “It’s just blown up,” says Dora. “It was part of a bigger moment than we expected.”

It’s a long way from the niche pandemic hit of Kendrick Lamar’s dome, but the Wanda quickly began to snake its way through downtown creative circles. “I’m lucky to have a pretty solid community,” says Dawn Long, who in a former creative life styled by Elon Musk to the Met Gala. Now she divides her time between designing knitwear and accessories for her brand and launching an app that facilitates anonymous phone sex. Her studio is adjacent to the NYC micro-neighborhood that has come to be known as Dimes Square, and her original Wanda clientele were her downtown artist and model friends. With everyone still more or less indoors, the Wanda soon became ubiquitous on Instagram, the headdress of a legion of boring hot people. From there, the Wanda pretty much sold itself. According to Dawn Long, she has never tipped the hat to anyone—a rarity in today’s celebrity stylist-industrial complex. “It’s all been really relaxed and organic,” she says. “It’s all been spread by word of mouth.” Or more accurately, words from the IG Story: Dawn Long and Dora have sold every single Wanda they’ve produced.

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