88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Bay View couple recreates historic process of custom hat making

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
The Brass Rooster

Summer’s back, which for us hat enthusiasts means the beanies and winter hats are going away and the beloved sun hats and fedoras are coming out of storage; but when was the last time you had a hat custom-fitted and made just for you?

Meet John and Kate McLaughlin, owners of The Brass Rooster in Bay View and two of the few remaining custom hat-makers (technically referred to as master dress hatters) in the nation,

Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

John and Kate McLaughlin, owners of The Brass Rooster, have been working out of their current Bay View location since 2014.

“Kate and I are the only two master dress hatters left in the state,” explains John, “and are only two of fifteen left in the country.”

But with hats still a popular fashion item today, why are there so few hat makers left? And what really all goes in to making a custom hat, anyways?

Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

“A lot of the original machines were destroyed for war efforts.” Today The Brass Rooster uses machinery dating all the way back to the late 1800’s.

Listen the full piece on custom hat making with John and Kate of The Brass Rooster below: 

Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

The conformitor, a tool used for measuring the head of the customer in order to achieve the perfect hat fit.

For more on the historic process of custom hat making, you can visit them online at brassrooster.com or visit them at 2252 S Kinnickinnic Ave in Bay View.

Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee