Call it a changing of the fedoras: The very week that the legendary Rotman’s Hat Shop and Haberdashery officially shuttered its doors, Stephen Temkin delivered his first Leon Drexler hat. Toronto men with a taste for old-school fedoras, handmade from the finest materials, breathed a sigh of relief.
“Every city needs an old Jewish hat-maker,” says Temkin, chuckling in the basement workshop of his Little Portugal home. Hat-makers of any creed are rare these days, however, and the once-booming profession has dwindled to a small handful of hatters in Canada – most of whom focus on cowboy hats.
Though the studio officially launched a couple months back, starting Leon Drexler (the name is a composite of names from Temkin’s family) was a years-long endeavour, says Temkin. Perfecting his technique, and tracking down hard-to-find tools – including the UFO-like flanges he uses to shape crowns and brims – was no mean feat. But then, speed is not one of Temkin’s virtues; quality is.
Which is why he uses beaver felt for the hats, Italian silk for the liner and sheepskin leather for the sweatband – durable but stylish fabrics that ensure the hat will last a lifetime (or two). As with a bespoke suit, Temkin consults with his clients, discussing different styles and taking measurements to ensure that each hat fits its wearer perfectly. “Even 1/8 of an inch difference in brim-width will suit one person better than another,” he says. “Men’s fashion is all about subtlety.”
Hats, approx. $425. For details, contact Stephen Temkin at email@example.com or 416-588-4764.
Above, two Leon Drexler originals.