Black Friday Nike Zenji/Juvenate

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Recently, an understated, black, 100% rabbit fur fedora from Off-White , the avant streetwear label from multihyphenate and Kanye West consigliere Virgil Abloh, came to attention, notable not so much for its clean line aesthetic or nouveau riche Walt Whitman affect, but because it was being marketed as “Jewish Hat” (the product pages at A Ma Maniere and Union Los Angeles have since been amended to “Black Brim Hat” and “Hat,” respectively). While Off-White’s version may resemble the preferred choice of a thousand young creatives splayed on an asphalt patio, gulping dollar oysters and small-batch kombucha, such comparisons belie the fedora’s holiness. The Off-White Jewish Hat is, in fact, the Chosen Lid.

Black Friday Nike Zenji/Juvenate, But what, exactly, gives Off-White’s Tribe topper it’s Hebrew bona fides? Is it because whenever it is worn outside of New York, the Off-White Jewish Hat likes to highlight the inferiority of the local bagels, especially London “beigels,” which are of course not bagels at all, but soft rolls?

for Jews, the hat becomes at once a totem of humility and a marker of enlightenment—its wearer wise enough to recognize his tenuous grasp on the supreme majesty of the universe, and fallible enough to require a tangible reminder, just in case.


Black Friday Nike Zenji/Juvenate Or is it because it’s impossible to entertain any conversation with Dave about his hiking trip to the Poconos this weekend while wearing the Off-White Jewish Hat? The Off-White Jewish Hat does not hike, Dave. Look at this unlined construction. The Off-White Jewish Hat is here for getting farpitzs and going down to Russ and Daughters to cop some herring in cream sauce, and maybe some Nova.

Perhaps because, despite being all-season appropriate and rendered in a classic silhouette, the Off-White Jewish Hat will still be made to feel like a failure in conversations with your mother about her friend Cheryl’s son Adam, who did you know is starting medical school at Johns Hopkins in the fall? What, doctors don’t wear hats? All she’s saying is, would you at least consider it?

More likely, it’s because Virgil’s Semitic chapeau takes its sartorial cues from the black Borsalinos favored in Brooklyn’s haredi communities, neighborhoods whose unrivaled fedora density quotient have made the hat an easy Semitic shorthand (an overt distinction Borsalino has managed to keep out of its marketing copy).

Virgil is not the first to admire Hasidic Jews for their ability to pull together an outfit, nor is he the first to attempt to translate Orthodox style into secular fashion. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s 1993 collection “Les Rabbins Chics,” literally “Chic Rabbis,” recognized the splendor of the Hasidic silhouette, sending models in long black skirts and tailored coats bounding down a Paris runway, their payot curls poking out from under fur shtreimels (Gaultier himself complementing his Breton shirt with a blue-and-white-striped yarmulke for the occasion). More recently, Theophilius London appeared in ads for Cole Haan in a wide brim Portofino he reportedly picked up in South Williamsburg.

Black Friday Nike Zenji/Juvenate That they could be seen on runways over the weekend at London Collections: Men , where labels as disparate as Mr. Hare and Dunhill put models in versions, speaks to their indelibility. You’re assured to find them at  Pitti Uomo , street style’s Thunderdome, so routinely lousy with wide brims that you would be forgiven for thinking you were less in Florence than Borough Park.


The hats, like most things in modern Judaism, are weighted with the tonnage of collective history. Not a people to be satisfied with flat meaning, Judaism offers several explanations for its predilection for fly headgear, most of which concern the vast sweep of creation and man’s place in it. To cover the head, tradition tells us, is to acknowledge the unknowable, ineffable expanse between your dummkopf and the rest of existence. So for Jews, the hat becomes at once a totem of humility and a marker of enlightenment—its wearer wise enough to recognize his tenuous grasp on the supreme majesty of the universe, and fallible enough to require a tangible reminder, just in case.

It’s worth noting that the fedora itself is neither a Jewish design or rabbinic diktat . Certainly the diaspora of Jewish Hats takes many forms. In certain precincts of Queens, for example, it’s a battered Mets cap caked in decades of regret and self-loathing. In Fort Lauderdale, the Jewish-American Gold Coast, it’s a white mesh number allowed to rise jauntily off the skull while kibbitzing at the co-op pool deck.


Black Friday Nike Zenji/Juvenate And, certainly, more orthodox phyla of Jewish Hat exist, especially when accounting for cold weather options. The fedora appears here, but so do shtreimels, spodiks, kolpiks, kashkets and kutshmas—florid expressions of altitude and furs, their variations and physical improbabilities enough to dizzy even the attuned Bar Mitzvah boy.

The fedora itself is easily the most modish of Jewish Hats, an evergreen signifier not just of kosher but of cool. Noted professor of archeology Henry Walton Jones Jr. (Indiana was the dog's name , after all) is associated with the style as much as dyspeptic salaryman Don Draper. Winking at the dynamic, Wisconsin uber WASP Annie Hall sports a black fedora when meeting Woody Allen’s “Real Jew,” who only appears in one—along with full beard—in the hallucinatory visions of Grammie Hall. That image was memorably co-opted by American Apparel and plastered onto billboards a few years ago, which earned the T-shirt merchants a visit from a different sect of Tribe, Woody’s lawyers.

Has Virgil sinned? It’s doubtful any rebbe would take exception. The Off-White Jewish Hat is simply the beneficiary of years of loaded cultural history. But maybe next time boychik could be more creative in the naming. May we suggest the “Alvy”?

2016 Nike Kyrie 2 Sneakers Max Lakin is a writer who lives in New York. You can follow him on Twitter @MaxLakin .