Meet Hollywood's favorite hatmaker

Gladys Tamez is famous for her distinctive, sculptural hats, which are loved by A-listers.

As a child growing up in Mexico, Gladys Tamez pored over fashion magazines. Several decades later, the milliner, who has been dubbed Hollywood’s favourite hatmaker, frequently appears in the pages of the very magazines she once collected.

“I feel so lucky that today I can do what I love and enjoy every day,” she says.

What Tamez loves most is creating distinctive, sculptural hats. From her atelier and shop in downtown Los Angeles, Tamez has produced hats for everyone from Johnny Depp to Cher and Lady Gaga, who famously wore a pink Gladys Tamez hat on the cover of her 2016 album, Joanne.

To me a hat is a sculpture.

- Gladys Tamez

“To me a hat is a sculpture. It’s an art form, that’s how I see it,” says Tamez.

This month, Tamez features in Afterpay’s Make It Your Way series, which celebrates small business owners around the world who are carving their own path and creating businesses that reflect their personal values and passions.

Make it handcrafted

Tamez’ love of hats began in 2009 when she travelled to Spain and witnessed a fourth-generation hat designer craft a bolero hat. “I loved the process – the magic of how they made it,” she recalls.

When she returned to LA, Tamez sought out classes and honed her talents, using traditional, handcrafted techniques. “My hats are made with blocks,” she explains. “I have 1500 blocks from [as far back as] the 1920s….”

I don’t want my clients to look like they’re in costume.

- Gladys Tamez

A Gladys Tamez hat can take up to eight hours to make, and her work is known for its distinctive creases. “I do Western hats, I do cowboy hats… but I always want to do a modernized hat. I don’t want my clients to look like they’re in costume.” 

Make it personal

Over the years, Tamez’ client base has grown to encompass celebrities, fashion lovers and customers from all around the world. “I have all kinds of customers – from 18 to 84. I have some clients who are fashionistas and super-confident… and other clients who come to me and they’ve never worn a hat before."

Whoever the client, Tamez takes a personal approach to her work. “At the beginning, I sit down and I ask them, ‘What colours will match with you?’ ‘What face shape do you have?’ And we start working together… I have some clients who now have 13 hats.” 

“I think hats [can be] a superpower. When clients wear them, they start noticing how hats compliment their look. And then other people start noticing and telling them how great they look – and then they don’t want to take the hat off! 

Make it with Afterpay

The designer partnered with Afterpay after younger customers started asking for a buy-now-pay-later platform. “We had all these young girls coming in here and saying, ‘Do you have Afterpay?”

We had all these young girls coming in here and saying, ‘Do you have Afterpay?'

- Gladys Tamez

“And it’s been really good for us,” continues Tamez, who views Afterpay as a tool to ensure her luxury products are available to a wider audience. “I want more people to see and appreciate these hats made by hand with the old techniques. I want to preserve those techniques and give them the respect it deserves.”

Partner with Afterpay now

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