Handmade Danish Headwear
Since 2013, Danish men have been able to have their very own unique cap sewn by Silas Gärtner, who is the only Danish cap maker. The first few years were only by appointment, but since 2017 Wilgart, as the company is called, has had a shop and workshop in the hip Jægersborggade in Nørrebro.
“The store attracts quite a few customers. There are also quite a few tourists, but we also have many customers who come specifically to have their very own unique and numbered cap sewn,” explains Silas Gärtner, owner and capmaker in Wilgart.
“Customers want the sensory experience of seeing and feeling the materials when choosing a cap. I give them that in the store, when we talk together about exactly how the cap should look and ‘feel’,” Silas Gärtner explains.
Silas says he primarily has two types of customers; men over forty who care about the quality and tradition of the craft, and for whom it matters that the cap is sewn in Denmark. The second type is slightly younger men between 25 and 35. For them, it is crucial that they can help design the cap themselves, and thus get their very own unique cap, which is the only one-of-a-kind model sewn. And then there is actually a third group as well; women who are tired of seeing their husbands walking around with a promotional cap from the local Q8 gas station.
Quality that lasts
“What all customers get here with us is a cap that has a long life and durability. Unfortunately, this is not common today, and many people do not actually understand what it means to buy a durable product. They have become accustomed to the fact that what we buy quickly breaks. But it’s not natural for the buttons to fall off your shirt after four times in the washing machine. Or that the cap bleaches completely after only one summer on the head. Quite the opposite,” Silas says.
“I think it’s related to the fact that the production has disappeared. This means that people have lost their understanding of what lies behind sewing, for example, a cap,” says Silas.
Sustainability is also part of quality
Something else that comes with the handmade quality product is the choices that the craftsman makes in relation to materials and production method. And in this way, a ‘modern’ concept such as sustainability has actually always been part of the very nature of craftsmanship.
“I think a lot about sustainability in our production. When customers buy a cap that they have decided for themselves how to look, they want to take better care of it and not just replace it next year. That is one aspect of sustainability. But it’s also something I think about when we buy materials and fabrics,” Silas says and
cites a number of examples.
“Personally, I love Harris Tweed, for example, which is produced in Scotland from Scottish and English wool. We buy our leather in Germany from German cows – and it is also tanned in rhubarb extract rather than, for example. Chrome. We have also just started a new project where we recycle sheets from the De Forenede Dampvaskerier (DFD) in the lining of the caps. And then we use fish skin, which is a natural by-product that would otherwise be thrown away.”
Modern technology is also part of the old craft
Although the actual sewing of a cap is still done by hand on a good old-fashioned sewing machine, Wilgart has invested in other machines that can support the production. Last year, Silas bought a band knife cutting machine from a tailoring shop on Amager, but the company also has a laser cutter. All the machines are assembled in Wilgart’s new workshop on Bornholm.
“With our laser cutter, we can constantly adapt and optimize our models, and with the large band knife cutting machine, I can cut all the parts for the caps with very great precision. This is crucial when I have to sew a quality cap,” Silas Gärtner concludes.
Text: Jacob Bo Andersen / Håndværkerforeningen KBH
Photo: Leon Sloth / Today Studio
Header photo: Thomas Mougeolle
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