Montecristi Custom Hatworks – Timeless

Since1978, Montecristi Custom Hatworks has been established as the world’s finest custom hatter. Visiting Milton Johnson’s workshop is a must for anyone looking for a beautiful and functional hat!  Montecristi Custom Hatworks  is situated on McKenzie Street, in Santa Fe’s downtown residential district, just a few blocks from the historic Plaza. What once was an adobe home is now a quietly bustling hive of the international hat-making industry.

montecristi custom hats

A wall of ready-to-wear fur felt hats at Montecristi.

There’s always an amazing selection of ready-to-wear panama and fur felt hats lining the walls.  For over 40 years, Milton specializes in providing men and women, famous and infamous, with the perfect head attire. Remember, for a custom piece, it’s important to get accurate measurements. Measuring for a custom hat takes precision and expertise.

Milton Johnson owner of Montecristi Custom Hatworks

It was in the early 1970s that owner Milton Johnson developed a close connection with the hat making craft and styles within the Ecuadorian village of Montecristi. “I first visited South America in 1973. I had just finished reading “Cien Anos de Soledad” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and from that wonderful and fantastical novel I took the name Macondo, for the company I established for trading textiles and pre-Colombian artifacts.

After two years wandering around Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in search of product, I stumbled into the humble village of Montecristi, close to the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. There I encountered the intriguing and beguiling Montecristi panama hat. Understanding and expounding the mystique of this legendary hat has become my life’s work. In 1978 I established Montecristi Custom Hat Works. During the years since, we’ve acquired an international reputation as the world’s finest custom hatter, not only for panama straw hats, but for our fine fur felts as well.”

The Teardrop – Montecristi Custom Hatworks

Milton can make any hat in almost any style ranging from the classic “Bowler,” and “Cattleman,” to the “Gambler,” “Trilby” and “Fedora” styles, to mention a few . The fur felt hats can be made in a wide variety of colors. The women’s line includes such styles as the “Greta,” “Balenciaga,” and the “Georgia O” modeled after Georgia O’Keeffe’s signature style. The wide brim is definitely a necessity for spending hours walking or painting under the New Mexico sun. These classic creations remain timeless through fashion’s changes.


The Georgia O at Montecristi with a gorgeous turquoise and coral hatband.

Here’s a photo of Georgia sporting her classic hat, with her good friend Orville Cox at Canyon de Chelly, photographed by Ansel Adams!

©Ansel Adams Gallery

When I visited Milton’s workshop, it was a lovely sight to see a line of freshly-made panama hats drying in the sun.

Freshly made panamas drying in the sun at Montecristi’s workshop on McKenzie St.

They are soon to become beautifully finished and ready-to-wear, as in the rows of racks lined up in the workshop.

Finished, crisp panamas waiting for a hatband and a new owner, at Montecristi Custom Hatworks.

Whether you live in Santa Fe or are visiting, be sure to stop by and browse Montecristi’s unique and stunning collection of hats, hatbands and accessories.

Beautiful artisanal hat bands at Montecristi.

No matter where you are on the globe, Montecristi Custom Hatworks fill and ship orders worldwide.

This fur felt style is named “Quickdraw” at Montecristi.

For more information on Montecristi Custom Hatworks, call (505) 983-9598 or visit:

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