Kelowna, B.C. milliner opens hat shop for everyone

Click to play video: 'Kelowna milliner picks up centuries old craft, opens shop in downtown' Kelowna milliner picks up centuries old craft, opens shop in downtown
WATCH: If you have ever wondered how hats are made, here is the answer. Sydney Morton met with Kelowna's newest Milliner to find out what it takes to make the perfect hat – Jun 28, 2022

It’s been decades since Kelowna, B.C., has had a milliner, but Rio Branner is happy to fill that gap by creating hats of all kinds for all kinds of people.

“Hats are just that total last piece that makes an outfit. It just sets the tone of the whole look,” said Branner.

“I just feel like all kinds of hats have all kinds of personalities and there is a hat for everyone really.”

Millinery originated in Italy in the 18th century, becoming a professional in the development of the fashion industry. A hatter makes hats for men and a milliner focuses on women’s hats. However, Branner makes hats for everyone to enjoy, he says.

What started in her home has now bloomed into a brick-and-mortar business in the heart of downtown where she lets her imagination run wild, bringing her colourful ideas to life.

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“I make all kinds of hats. In the summer I am all about straw hats. I do it all in wooden moulds in my home studio. I do all the stiffening and wiring and finishing there and then I bring it [to the shop] and I do all the trimmings and finish it all up.”

To make something truly unique, Branner sources vintage fabric, felts, furs, straws, vintage flowers, feathers and other materials. She even restores old hats back to their former glory.

However, to make a good hat, Branner says one needs to have the right mould.

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“The moulds are pretty much the starting point of all the hats and finding all kinds of unique moulds is the start of making your own collection,” said Branner.

“I have really amazing collections of moulds, some are from the 1950s and 1960s and some are made from some of the most famous hat makers in Paris, La Forme. He’s the hat block maker that makes all the hat blocks for Chanel and Christian Dior, so those are treasures.”

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Everyone is welcome to play dress-up and explore the world of hats at her milliner and merchant shop in Kelowna.


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