"I think that we have the best quality when it comes to our materials," Shorty told us about what sets her apart from her competition. Photo © Impulse Photography

Hats Off To You: 2017 Hat Trends with Shorty

During the 2017 AQHA Nutrena East Level One Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina, GoHorseShow was given the opportunity to speak with Shorty Koger, owner of Shorty’s Caboy Hattery. Shorty gave us the inside scoop on the most popular and current western cowboy hat trends. These one-of-a-kind cowboy hats are being seen in various show arenas all over the country.

Q: Hi, Shorty. Thank you for talking with us today! Can you give our readers some background on your company?
A: My company, Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, is located in the historic Stockyards in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I first purchased the space from a man named Shorty in 1990. Since my nickname is also “Shorty”, I found it to be pretty fitting. I grew up helping shape hats, so I figured I might as well start to make them, because I knew what it would take to make a great custom hat.

Q: Can you tell us about some of the current trends you are seeing in custom felt hats for 2017?
A: The biggest trend that we have been seeing as of late are the huge variations in color. We are able to make almost any color hat, custom made, of course. Another big trend with the felt hats is the buckstitch. Buckstitch is increasingly popular and can be used to customize any felt hat around the edges. For example, an exhibitor can want the traditional black felt hat, but we can dress it up with a red, white, or any other color buckstitch on the edges to give it a different look to match their outfit.

Q: What kinds of trends have you seen in the straw hats for 2017?
A: Embellishments. People are really having fun with adding different colors to the straw hats as well. Besides color, adding a band with lots of bling or rhinestones is another way to dress up a straw hat. (See attached photos of straw-hat selection at the 2017 AQHA Level One Championship Show).

Q: With the embellishments, are people doing anything besides the buckstitch and bling?
A: We also specialize in lasering and beading. I have three Native American Indians who do hand crafted beading on my hats. The lasering is also becoming very popular and we can produce almost any design with the laser.

Q: In your opinion, when is it okay to wear straw hats?
A: Traditionally, people wait until after Easter to pull out the straw hats, and they usually wear them until Labor Day. This rule is really becoming more obsolete and people can really choose when they want to wear straw over felt. It is mostly a personal decision instead of a rule nowadays. Now, whenever the temperature outside gets warm enough, people will switch to straw in order to stay cooler.

Q: What is Shorty’s offering that is new and never-done-before in terms of custom creations?
A: Well, the beading is the newest trend that is really setting us apart. However, I have been working on another new idea for customization but it is not ready yet. I will unveil this new idea at the 2017 All American Quarter Horse Congress, so be on the lookout!

Q: Are there any other things that make your hats stand out when it comes to customization?
A: Hand painting. We are offering hand painting on hats and that is another new and unique style that we can do for anyone.

Q: What are some of the most popular colors you have sold so far in 2017?
A: Grey is always the most popular and we make multiple shades of grey. Some other popular colors are pecan and whiskey. I also just made a new color that is called black cherry.

Q: Are there any trends that are going out of style when it comes to hats?
A: Not really. The only thing I can think of is that some people want a custom, wider brimmed hat. The wider brim helps to give more sun protection for folks who wear their hats outside a lot.

Q: After someone purchases a custom hat, what is the average wait time until it is finished?
A: Generally, 3 months if the chosen items are not in stock.

Q: What upcoming shows will you be attending?
A: We will be everywhere! We sponsor at the Little Britches Rodeo, the Pinto World Show and the Snaffle Bit Futurity. Of course we will be at all the majors like the Congress later this year as well. We are completely booked up on the road until December.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Take care of your straw hats! Though they are less maintenance than felt hats, they will shrink and lose their shape if you leave them in a hot trailer or tack room for a long time.

Q: Great advice! Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, Shorty!
A: You’re welcome and thank you.


About the Author- Samantha Armbruster is a 22-year-old student from Sunbury, Ohio who is currently pursuing a degree in Public Relations from Franklin University. She currently shows her Quarter Horse gelding, Oops I Am Good, also known as “Hudson”, on the Quarter Horse circuit. Samantha loves being involved in the industry from lending a hand to the younger kids to learning from the top professionals. In 2016, Sam and her horse Hudson won an NSBA World Championship in Trail as well as a Quarter Horse Congress Championship in Showmanship.
Photos © Impulse Photography and Samantha Armbruster