Theme: South African Essence

There’s a hat for everyone at Simon and Mary, Joburg’s millinery brand that holds as much historical gravitas as it does trend-setting contemporary panache. “All the good-quality hats in South Africa are generally coming out of our factory,” says Dean Pozniak, the fourth generation of Pozniaks involved in the headwear industry. He’s not being boastful – the fanclub of celebs, stylemakers and influencers snapped donning Simon and Mary hats ranges from photographer Trevor Stuurman to television presenter Maps Maponyane and performance artist Bontle Modiselle. Even global ad campaigns specifically request hats made by this team of craftspeople and skilled machinists.

When Pozniak refreshed the heritage business in 2014, it was decided to name it after his grandparents, who founded the hat factory in 1935, importing the machines – still in use today – in the 50s and 60s. “I’ve known this place since I was a kid,” he says. “I used to rollerblade around here and play cricket in the factory with my friends.” Some of the children of the older team of machinists now work in the factory, too, maintaining the personal touch for which Simon and Mary is known.

Pozniak ensures the relevance of the brand by innovating with new styles, adding to the 100% wool felt and hemp ranges that are available in an array of colours. There’s a tweed flat cap, military fez, Western or safari hat, and even a wonky hat that’s practically foldable. Next month Simon and Mary will launch bucket hats and caps made from biodegradable cactus leather and will soon be opening an online store, making it easier for anyone around the world to add a dash of South African flavour to their look.

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.