Creating The Hat Of A Hero - The Indiana Jones Poet

The brand's collaboration with this incredibly popular franchise began back in 1980 when director Steven Spielberg wanted a specific look for the action hero character for his film Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Spielberg worked with costume designer Deborah Nadoolman-Landis to create the look for the character of Indiana Jones, which was eventually chosen to be played by Harrison Ford. You can see a video of Deborah speaking about her iconic work creating the Indiana Jones character on our YouTube Channel here:


The Raiders Fedora is a wide brimmed hat with a straight sided tall crown profile reminiscent of hat styles popular in the 1930’s.  Herbert Johnson has been famous for its popular Poet styles since the 1890’s, an ageless style that remains a popular classic choice today. The Poet made an excellent starting point to work from with some adjustments made to create the shape and look that Nadoolman-Landis wanted. A shade of brown rabbit fur felt was chosen 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 with extra taken off the sides to create 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 a 38mm wide ribbon was chosen giving the tall crown an even taller appearance.

Raiders Opening Scene

Herbert Johnson is proud and delighted to have been part of the story and working with the costume designer Deborah Nadoolman-Landis to realise her vision for the character of Indiana Jones for Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

We made many further 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. Deborah Nadoolman-Landis and her costume department meticulously stressed and aged the costume pieces - a process called breaking down, to give authenticity to the character over his adventures and many scrapes. The hat itself even evolved over the course of filming.  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 Deborah Nadoolman-Landis and her 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 assist you in discussing a custom order for you directly to meet your hat preferences.  (Custom Orders currently suspended temporarily due to high demand).

Customer services team :