Genuine Panama hats are hand-woven in Ecuador, South America from strands of Toquilla grass. Panama straw is light weight, very cool & breathable to wear and resilient to crushing. May be natural off-white or dyed.
Raffia straw is grown on the island of Madagascar. This is a heavier straw which is very durable, flexible and offers great sun protection. Natural raffia is a wheat color and may be dyed. Raffia may be braided coarsely or fine. The newer crocheted raffia hats are much cooler.
Toyo Straw is a light weight cellulose fiber sewn braid with nylon (for strength) which is flexible and takes dye well. A hat of sewn toyo braid is quite durable and blocks the sun well.
Wheat straw is braided and then sewn. The flexibility of the hat will depend on how fine the straw is braided; the finer the braid, the softer the hat. One of my favorite straws...durable & classy! Great sun protection. Natural wheat or may be dyed.
Sisal Straw is a fine, natural straw used in more expensive hats. Sisel straw hats are one of the few straws still woven by hand. It is resilient in wear and takes dye well. I use it primarily with the Travel Hats.
Horsehair Straw was originally woven from hair from horse tails & manes, but now is woven from nylon. The sheer is made stable with a spiral of woven braid (often called Swiss braid). A stiff, lightweight straw which holds shape well and can support an extra large brim. It is used primarily for dressy hats.
Sinamay is a type of natural fiber made from a plant called musa textilis found in the Philippines. Sinamay is usually dyed and stiffened. Many dress and church hats made from sinamay straw.
Crown Shapes can be high or low, round or flat.