Korean winters are absolutely freezing-almost unbearably so. When the cold weather began to set in during my teaching year, I noticed that the kids would come into school wearing animal hats, complete with tufty ears and beady eyes. The boys would tend to go for funny monkeys, bears or wolves, whilst the girls would opt for sweetie-pie lambs, pandas or polar bears. This was something I’d never seen before, and passed it off as a children’s fad.
I then saw high school and uni students donning the hats, and managing to look on-trend in the process. When my middle-aged adult students (known as the ‘Mothers Class’) did the same, I couldn’t question the cuteness and universality of the style. Somehow these big, goofy hats managed to suit everyone, whilst helping them to beat the winter’s chill. One of the ‘Mothers’ bought me a pink goat hat as a Christmas present, and I was hooked!
During my first winter back in London, I felt rather self-conscious in my knitted white mouse hat (and didn’t have the guts to even consider the pink goat!), but loved it so much that I wore it anyway. To my glee, I sporadically spotted a few others with similar hats.
Then, slowly but surely, the animal hat craze reached London… and the world! At last summer’s music festivals, these became the must-have fest-chic item. Singer Ellie Goulding (pictured below) even wore her tiger bonnet on stage at T4 On the Beach. Since then, style icons further from home such as Pink and Khloe Kardashian have been snapped in various creature comforts.
Come the London winter of 2010, panda hats had arrived in River Island and Claire’s Accessories, and Londoners were loving them! They were now officially ‘in’, and more hipsters than ever were making the most of the cold weather by throwing on their wild headgear.
Like other unique trends, these have sparked controversy amongst fashion writers and critics. Many pass them of as childish and silly, both of which accusations I’m not denying, but what’s so wrong with a fashion that allows each of us to embrace our inner child, and add some enjoyment to days of dreary weather?
Whatever your opinion, its certain that the nippy temperatures are not going anywhere just yet, and neither are these fun and funky fashion items!
(Top to bottom) Elizabeth wears polar bear hat / scarf / gloves, Claire’s Accessories, Naomi wears hooded panda jumper, River Island, Annie wears wolf hat bought by a friend who lives in Korea
- Panda hats have been stocked by River Island and Claire’s Accessories since 2010, but due to popularity, they are usually sold out
- Try e-bay or other auction sites
- http://www.shopzilla.co.uk/ has a good selection
- Or order from overseas: http://wink-mall.blogspot.com/2009/06/animal-hats-pre-order.html