While i wouldn't say silk hats are huge money spinners, Silk Top Hats is established in the small niche that demands real silk top hats. Meanwhile, larger manufacturers like Lock & Co. or Bates cater to a comparatively large market with their melusine/felt top hats in addition to their lines of soft hats and caps. I suspect that the heads of these companies either think that their customers are satisfied with their current top hat selection, or that they think the market for silk top hats is insignificant relative to their total profit.
The confirmation that Meeuwis indeed has got someone to make him silk plush finally beats to death the various myths concerning the impossibility of making silk plush.
Actually, it is probably that the customers don't know that silk plush is still being produced that they still go for the fur melusine. IMHO, nothing beats silk (you can't polish a fur one and achieve the same satin shine as you could with silk). I once had a fur melusine from HJ made in the 1970s and I after wearing it for a bit, decided it didn't look as good a silk one (it's the shape and the overall fuzziness that irritated me) and flogged it off to a friend. Plus, the amount the hatters and dealers charge for a vintage silk is huge compared to a new one from Ton. And especially for the guys with large heads would probably be willing to spend money on a new silk rather than a rare and very pricy vintage silk. I am at least blessed with a size 7 head so I could easily by a silk topper in good condition for as little as £36 (the most I've spent is £200 on a really good Truefitt one).
I have asked Janet Taylor (now of Patey Hats) about this and will pass on her views. I have to say that, unless he is leaving a 0 off, at the prices that he is charging for excellent second hand hats, there would be a killing to be made in buying up all his stock!
Indeed, his prices are very reasonable. I might actually visit him one day to just talk about toppers.
He also sent me a photo of some of the gems in his collection:
I think the two at the bottom are made by him.
TBH, I also heard from the guy who runs Ascot Top Hats and he seems to suggest that they are still manufactured as well.
Edited by Charles R Bingley, 16 March 2011 - 03:50 AM.