Hats Off to the Hatter
Meet Chris Roberts of Aspen Hatter
by Lauren Schulze
Photographs by Seth Beckton
“I’ve been wearin’ a hat ever since I was little and it’s just been kind of part of me,” Chris Roberts says, recounting the genesis of his hat shop, the Aspen Hatter. An Austin native, Roberts had been a musician in Aspen, Colorado, playing gigs at bars around town. Every so often, he’d look for a new hat to change up his look, but he always came up short. “They only made one style,” he says. Realizing that the hat industry wasn’t producing the inventive styles he sought, he took it upon himself to fill the void.
“One customer will be a professional rodeo cowboy and the next one will be a model from L.A.”
Roberts started styling his own hats about a decade ago: he’d buy hats in standard styles, then cut, reshape, and alter them to make them his own. When he’d wear his revamped hats, strangers stopped him on the streets, asking him where they could get their hands on pieces like that. He got the question so often that he decided to make a business out of it.
Walking into the Aspen Hatter, you may notice a commonality tying the hats together—the basic backbone of Roberts’ designs—but they’re all different: playing with the hats’ color and shape and embellishing them with feathers and ribbons, Roberts has an expansive toolkit for imbuing each hat with its own character and charm. Deviating from traditional styles, he creates bespoke hats that suit his customer’s needs and reflect their individuality.
The shop is worth a visit: the tools and machines are on display and all the work—from construction to styling—happens there on the floor. Roberts understands the versatility of style and works directly with each customer to create the perfect hat that reflects their vibe. “One customer will be a professional rodeo cowboy and the next one will be a model from L.A.,” he says. It’s an engaging and personal process. No matter what kind of individual you are, if you’re a fan of hats, the Aspen Hatter is your guy.