Autumn's top-trending accessory, according to fashion experts across the globe, is not the micro-mini bag or uber-cool mule shoe. It's the bucket hat – headwear that these same specialists would have shuddered at the thought of but half a decade ago. Then Christian Dior's visionary creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, decided to style all of her models with bucket hats topped with veils and, of course, logo-stamped fabric for her autumn / winter 2019 show. She set in motion a trend that has spiralled on to the pages of everyone's social media feeds – including hijab-wearing and modestwear fashionistas.
Truth be told, the bucket hat was first attempted as a micro-trend for spring / summer 2018, but never quite caught on. The Chanel runway show featured Karl Lagerfeld’s transparent plastic bucket hats on models’ heads, for example. Nonetheless, these see-through designs appeared gimmicky, rather than functional staples. Michael Kors also experimented with the headwear using a more laid-back approach – his hats were tweed and cotton blends, and matched the resort-inspired outfits they were paired with. Even Rihanna incorporated bucket hats into her Fenty x Puma collection, although hers were topped with hot pink and navy seat-belt straps.
Bucket hats were not originally designed with fashion in mind. They hark back to the early 1900s, when they were used to protect Irish fishermen and farmers from the rain, and were produced from soft, floppy textiles to allow for easy folding and storage inside a pocket. Versions created with stiffer brims were called boonie hats, and were worn by soldiers in the Vietnam War. The headwear didn't really enter the fashion sphere until the 1960s, dipping in and out of style for the next few decades, but never cementing itself as a mainstream, must-have fashion item.
In the 1980s, bucket hats were a headwear favourite of hip-hop artists notably L L Cool J, after which they were largely rejected by the mainstream, becoming an image of the prepubescent, unpopular teenage boy, or the embarrassing, outdoorsy father without an eye for style. Now, between Dior's veiled versions, Prada's minimalist nylon pieces and Balenciaga's logo-adorned renditions, bucket hats have infiltrated the top tiers of fashion, and naturally have trickled down onto the high street with affordable versions available in stores and online.
The incorporation of bucket hats on runways and in high-street stores is part of two larger trends: utility and modesty. Cargo trousers, loose vests, relaxed blazers and chunky trainers have resurfaced along with bucket hats, which are being paired with everything from suits to ballgowns at fashion weeks. But the millennials opting for bucket hats this season appreciate them for their casual, effortless appeal. "I've always liked oversized, ultra-comfortable pieces because they are modest, but also have a cool and laid-back look. Bucket hats definitely fall under that category, so it's a trend I've welcomed with open arms," says Sudanese graphic designer Rihab Nubi from Sharjah, who often sports a denim version on top of or in place of her hijab.
Modest fashion bloggers, who cover their hair and skin up to the neck, wrists and ankles, have taken a shine to the headwear as it can signal their fusion of faith and fashion. Hijab-wearing fashion influencers of late have been adamant that by covering their hair, they aren't necessarily left out of seasonal headwear trends. When pearl-embellished barrette clips started trending earlier this year, many hijab-wearing bloggers, Nubi included, joined in, clipping the accessories to the sides of their headscarves. Now, they're tying their hair up under a bucket hat or wearing their headscarves untied, with either side draped over their shoulders and down their torsos, with a bucket hat to top it off.
“One of the main perks is that once you have a hat on, trust that your hijab is not going anywhere and you won’t need to redo it all day,” says Nubi. “Also, a lot of us hijabis struggle with awkward tan lines around the forehead during the summertime, and bucket hats help combat that – we love a trendy and efficient hijab hack.”
Fashion stylist and accessories designer Chloe Bosher, who lives in Dubai, has also found inspiration in the basic bucket hat. Having created floral-adorned headbands and baseball caps, along with earrings topped with pom-poms and tassels, which she sells under her brand Dot Your Teas at markets and pop-ups across the city, Bosher is taking cues from the international runways and experimenting with this silhouette.
Launching this month at the new Bou-tea-que retail space at Tania’s Teahouse in Dubai, Bosher’s latest bucket hats offer a whimsical take on the athleisure accessory – chrysanthemum flowers in hues of pink and green are placed just above the brims of her black bucket hats, creating a look that’s at once cool and feminine.
Bosher agrees that typical connotations of bucket hats are that they’re drab and dorky, but points out that they’re in vogue nonetheless. “Every brand has made a version of the bucket hat and they’ve been seen on the heads of some of the top celebrities,” she says. Claiming that she can’t pull off the bucket hat look herself, the stylist adds a tip for those who are on the fence when it comes to trying out the trend: “Fold up the edge of the front of the hat if you don’t want the full bucket look.”