Once upon a time, a cap was something you threw on your head to go out into the cold without much thought. In the last few years, the cap has evolved into the beanie, a must-have fashion statement with many nuances in style, texture and fit.
“Beanies are the hottest cold-weather accessory this season,” said Rachel Greenbaum, owner of From Head to Hose, a Brooklyn-based store with women’s fashions, hats, shoes, hosiery, scarves and belts. “They’re practical and chic.”
Extolling the virtues of beanies, Greenbaum said no one is buying anything else this season. Beanies are being worn with cuffs and without, a longer length you can pull back behind your head or shorter and fitted. Some have pom poms; some have detachable pom poms. Dressy versions have stones or ribbons going down the front.
Beanies come in different materials—wool, cotton, velour, velvet and blends for those who are allergic to wool—and serve multiple purposes. Women who cover their hair are wearing lighter beanies instead of tichels or snoods, or wearing them over wigs. “You can wear nice ones to go out to dinner, or more casual ones to go grocery shopping,” Greenbaum noted. “Everyone’s wearing them—women, men, movie stars. There’s no age limit, you can be 2 or 92.”
While black is always a popular color, this season it is being eclipsed by neutral shades. Camel, beige and winter white are the most requested colors. Greenbaum said people generally match their hat color to their coats and the neutrals go with anything. From Head to Hose sells online at https://fromheadtohose.com and offers free shipping with the code LinkNJ. The store is located at 1717 Avenue M, Brooklyn, and has a selection of beanies at Sari’s Wigs in Teaneck.
Best Beanies Boutique is an online store with exclusive designs by Malkah Hartman. “I let my customers tell me what they want,” said Hartman. “I always sense the direction in which customers are going, rather than following my own agenda.” This year, her customers are looking for comfortable fabrics, although she is seeing an uptick in demand for a little “razzle dazzle.” Her best seller this season is the Luxe 2.0 which is soft, thick and fits well, especially on women with larger heads. Neutrals are her most popular colors, with camels, mocha and tan outselling black by about three to one. Herringbone was big last season and is still requested this year along with houndstooth and plaid.
Best Beanies has one new line that Hartman developed with Eliana Ladenheim, the fashion influencer behind the name “Eishes Style.” Hartman describes the beanie as having a trendy star design with a vintage twist, providing the more ‘fun’ look consumers want while not overtaking the outfit. She is offering a holiday gift pack with the beanie and gloves, and will be adding berets to the line. Hartman began working with Ladenheim three years ago. “I had this idea that we could put both our heads together to create the perfect product for consumers,” she said. Together they produced a line of beanies with touches that she felt were missing in the market. Now Hartman is working with several influencers and sees similar collaborations becoming more popular.
Hartman advises women to audit their wardrobes before buying beanies. “Sometimes you buy a hat and bring it home and it doesn’t work with what you have,” she said. Better to shop the other way around. “There’s no better feeling than wearing an outfit and putting on a hat that works; it’s satisfying and makes you feel complete.”
Hartman sizes her beanies and helps customers determine the right fit. Beanies can be cut in ways that affect the look. You don’t want too much or too little slouch, which is the fuller part that falls higher or lower on the head. “Women tell me their head size or wig size and I can pick the comfortable ones,” she said. She tries out her beanies on different head sizes and models so she doesn’t rely on her own opinion. “I gather intel and share the insights with my followers and customers.” And she does this all from afar—her customers are from all over the world including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Israel. She has a storefront near her home in the Five Towns but uses it as a distribution center.
Hartman began her business when she was living in Boston with her husband, who was in law school, before moving to the Five Towns. She began buying beanies to resell and then started playing around with them to customize piece by piece. When some of her designs went viral, she started making her own beanies by hand in larger quantities. The next step was to outsource production to a factory in China. “I’ll make specific designs, sketch and present my ideas,” she said. “Then we’ll go back and forth—they’ll send samples, I’ll tweak, they make the pieces fit and I place orders for the ones I love.” This year, Hartman just beat the pandemic. She placed her orders before the Chinese New Year, when factories close for a month-long vacation, but then they stayed closed, bringing some commerce to a halt. She considered finding factories here or in Mexico for new orders, but China recovered faster than the U.S.; the factories were up and running within a couple of months, while American factories closed for a longer time.
Hartman’s production cycle from placing orders at the factory to delivery is usually about a month, though the holiday season always has delays. Depending on the location, her delivery to customers ranges from one to three days. Order online at https://www.bestbeaniesboutique.com.
For a comparison of makers, look at Business Insider’s guide to the best beanies, https://www.businessinsider.com/best-beanie. The reviewers chose winners in several categories. If you miss brick and mortar shopping, visit Tal New York headwear at the recently reopened American Dream Mall in East Rutherford.
By Bracha Schwartz