Derrek Bell leans forward and places his elbows on the counter, turning the hat he is holding upside down to expose the price tag attached to the inside. He holds it gently, careful not to pinch it or bend it out of shape. The Panama hat has travelled all the way from Cuenca in Ecuador, where it was manufactured, to a factory in Alessandria, Italy, where it was shaped and tagged with a little navy label that spelled “Borsalino” in a cursive gold font. It is now on a rack at The Hat Guys, an upscale hat shop in downtown Oakland that has served famous heads for over two decades.
Bell has worked here as a salesman for seven years. “Take a look at this,” he says, pointing at the price tag. The Borsalino name puts the hat’s price at $1,200. It is one of the most expensive hats in the store.

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