Optimo Hats Brings Old-school Style To A New Generation


An Optimo craftsman puts the finishing touches on a hat. Photo courtesy of Optimo Hats.

When Graham Thompson found out his favorite hatmaker was about to retire, the 22-year-old college grad made a quick and bold decision: He’d take over the company and keep it going himself.

Just like that, Thompson was in the hat business. Now, more than 15 years later, Chicago’s Optimo Hats makes fine headwear using quality materials and labor-intensive techniques. Customers like radio humorist Tom Bodett happily pay $650 or more for a hat that’s built to last for generations.

I’ve loved hats as far back as I can remember.
Graham Thompson


Traditional hand tools are used to craft fine hats. Photo courtesy of Optimo Hats.

Sales manager Tiffani Bell said the most popular style is – what else – the Chicago, a variation on the classic fedora. But today’s buyers often add modern flair by choosing unconventional colors.

“We have one in Royal Blue,” Bell said. “That one did fantastic sales last year – they just flew out of here.”

Gentlemen, maybe it’s time to give those ball caps a rest.

Hats and the wooden blocks used to shape them. Photo courtesy of Optimo Hats.

Optimo Hats
10215 S. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60643