WHATEVER HAPPENED TO . . .:Hats Off




Remember the Shchyolkovsky Fetr hat factory that last year bought Britain's legendary Wilson&Stafford, the 128-year-old felt making company? When The Moscow Times wrote about the deal last October, the factory was about to start producing traditional English hats for local customers.


Wilson&Stafford was once Britain's paragon of hat making, boasting the Royal Navy and British Army among its clients. But the company fell on hard times. Last year, motivated by financial troubles, the company surprised the community of haberdashers by selling out to Shchyolkovsky Fetr, a local hat factory outside Moscow.


The factory started producing experimental hats based on Wilson&Stafford's models last year. Today it has released 62,300 felt, straw and fabric models, said Anatoly Kalinin, the Shchyolkovsky Fetr's commercial director. "We wanted first to see if our Russian clients like traditional British hats."


Apparently they do, because the factory is planning to significantly increase production volumes next season - particularly for straw hats, which have proved to be very popular among local consumers. Instead of 6,800 models, the factory is planning to produce up to 30,000 straw hats, said Kalinin.


Another popular model - a traditional English cap - is likely to be seen soon by all metro-riding Muscovites. Shchyolkovsky Fetr has signed a contract with the Moscow transit authority to top off the metro workers uniforms.


- Tanya Mosolova