Creating The Hat Of A Hero - The Indiana Jones Poet

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Herbert Johnson Hatters have enjoyed a long established history in providing all types of fine headwear for use in TV, stage and film productions, which continues to this day.  The brand is proud to be the original maker of the iconic Indiana Jones Poet hats featured in the original Indiana Jones trilogy.  

The brand's collaboration with this incredibly popular franchise began back in 1980 when two American gentlemen came into the London shop and introduced themselves as Mr Steven Spielberg and Mr Harrison Ford.  Mr Spielberg announced that he was on the brink of making an adventure film with Harrison Ford as the central figure (Raiders of the Lost Ark) and revealed that the main character ‘Indiana Jones’ would be wearing a hat which would be pivotal to the character and the plot.  We were delighted at having been chosen to help design what was to become the world famous ‘Indy hat’.

It was our tall stovepipe classic poet style that was chosen as the foundation for what was to become the iconic Raiders Hat.  The Poet is a wide brim fur felt hat with a tall straight sided crown, made by Herbert Johnson since the 1890’s, an ageless style that remains a popular classic choice today.  A shade of brown rabbit fur felt was chosen, a colour tone we now call Deep Sable, and some modifications were made to the Poet hat to create its character and to facilitate filming.  The Indy hat was made distinctive by reducing the brim width only on the sides creating a dimensional ovoid brim, which served to give protection to the eyes and neck whilst the reduction on the sides helped with camera angles. The explorer look was enhanced by snapping the front brim down and we altered the original ribbon from 50mm to 38mm to make the tall crown appear even taller. 

The re-worked and subtly modified Herbert Johnson Poet hat gave Mr Spielberg the look he had envisioned for Harrison Ford's character of Indiana Jones and the 'Indy' hat was born.

Raiders Opening Scene

Apart from the original Indiana Jones hat crafted for Harrison Ford in store, we made a further 45 'Indy' hats of assorted sizes, some for Mr. Ford and the remainder for the film stunt actors on the set of Raiders of The Lost Ark.  Several different hats were worn by Mr Ford and the stunt crew during filming, all of which evolved individually as they were handled, reshaped, distressed and exposed to different elements throughout the filming process.  Thus certain scene specific hat looks have become quite popular with the fans, each with their own unique character.  To cater for this diverse range of popular Indy Hat looks, today we offer many scene specific styles in a choice of options to suit all client preferences.

Indiana Jones Idol Grab

During the film's opening credits and as seen sporadically throughout the film, Indy's hat looks pretty much as it would have been when delivered by us to the set.  The hat featured still has its symmetrical (non-turned) crisp bash and this is what is represented by our standard 'Raiders Poet' style.  Later on in filming, adjustments start to come into effect on some of the hats starting subtly with the ‘Idol Grab’ scenes.  Harrison himself puts in 'The Turn', an adjustment that was thought to aid in achieving a more snug fit to prevent it falling off so readily during the action.  Essentially the hat has been turned clockwise slightly on the head so that the original bow knot position of above the left ear is shifted forwards more towards the eye.  The hat’s bash was then re-shaped in line with the face.   The Turns main effect is on the brim with The Turn throwing the oval head-fitting out of alignment and creating shifted pressure points which cause the brim to develop the characteristic swoop.  The 'Raiders Turn Poet’ version can be seen in many scenes, some of which later further evolve into their own scene specific looks such as the 'Raven Bar' and ‘Cairo’, which are popular choices.  The distinctive tight front pinch the Raiders style is known for comes into effect also and certain pre-aging treatments done by both Harrison and the costume department are evident in the majority of scenes evolving throughout.  Perhaps the most extreme look for the Raiders hat is the 'Cairo', which evolved mainly due to the extreme heat and humid conditions the hat was exposed to during filming these scenes.  The intense heat and perspiration of the wearer has naturally relaxed the rabbit felt, making it much softer, more malleable and floppy.  The crown of the hat slumps slightly, relaxing down, widening the top crease.  The Cairo Poet also features a slight bulge above the ribbon on one side which originally may well have been the result of the sweatband having been folded over during these scenes.  Such an act may have stabilised the fit for some scenes at a time when the moist, hot atmosphere allowed the felt and sweatband to be at their most pliable. It would then stand to reason that the felt would be pushed out of true in that area creating the characteristic 'Cairo bulge'.  This iconic look was recreated in our ‘Cairo Poet’ style, new to our website for 2021.

Indiana Jones Cairo

Of course during the film in the brief moments when our Hero, Indiana Jones, is not relic-hunting, punching, trap-avoiding and whip-swinging his way through his adventures, he dusts himself off, puts on a suit and pairs it with his elegant grey travel hat.  

Indiana Jones Seaplane

Featured only in a few short scenes in the film, our smart ‘Seaplane Poet’ has become a firm favourite with hat connoisseurs and Indy fans alike.  This hat has sparked much debate over the years as to what the original hats colour really was as many were aware that the lighting/colour-filter film techniques used alter not only this hat but all the hats colour appearance from scene to scene when viewed on screen.  Our research has enabled us to discover the truth behind many such long standing former mysteries allowing us to develop our range using current dye technology, achieving custom close colour matches to those vintage colour dyes so we can offer our current styles as close to our originals as possible.

Indiana Jones Ravenwood

Not only did Herbert Johnson provide all the adventure and travel hats that would come to define the Heroes character for the film, we also created a stylish black bound-edge Poet for one of the villains of the piece, namely Major Arnold Ernst Toht played by the late actor Ronald Lacey.  We recreate this darkly elegant costume piece as our ‘The Major Poet’ style which is sure to compliment any film fans or hat lovers fine tailored wardrobe.

Major Toht

The ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ film premiered in the summer of 1981 to rave reviews and as the fans often tell us, changed lives forever.  Enjoying its 40th Anniversary in 2021, despite plans organised worldwide being somewhat restricted by Covid concerns, many celebrations continued with safe events and the release of many limited edition collectors items.  As the original makers of the hats, Herbert Johnson was no exception, and we were delighted to release our incredibly popular limited edition ‘The Streets Of Cairo Poet - Raiders Collectors Package’. (now sold out)

Cairo Package 2021

Following on from the immensely popular ‘Raiders' film in 1981, we were also commissioned to provide all the hats for the following sequels.  The ‘Temple Of Doom’ premiered in 1984, ‘Last Crusade’ in 1989 and one of our Indy hats was even featured in ‘The Goonies’ film in 1985. Herbert Johnson’s Poets also return, featured in Spielberg's spin off TV series ‘The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles that ran from 1992 to 1993’.  The Herbert Johnson hats worn by Sean Patrick Flanery in the series were to the specifications of the standard brown Poet style without any of the custom alterations that were made to this base model for the 1980 Raiders Poets.  These hats have quite a soft shaping, an even non-dimensional cut brim, no-turn and a wider ribbon-band. Recreations of these popular hat styles are also available by request.


The tremendous success of the Indiana Jones films have secured their place in popular culture forever and just like our original poet, the hero Indy Poet in all its forms is ageless and enjoys an enduring popularity to this day.



Please note that not all colour/felt type/style combinations are featured on our website, however, should you not find what you are looking for on our site, our service team will be happy to create an order for you directly to meet your hat preferences.

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