I was 12 years old when I first came across a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in the school library. Rarely has any piece of literature had such an impact on me — and anything that influences me, influences the brand I am heading.
The Tolkien rabbit hole is deep. It might begin with The Hobbit, take you through The Lord of the Rings, maybe even into The Silmarillion, and if you’re lost in the vortex, you might end up passing through 12 volumes of the History of Middle Earth, before you’re done.
Just kidding. You won’t be done yet. There’s always more to discover.
From the moment I saw Alan Lee’s iconic illustration of the gates of Moria — which was the cover art on that Fellowship book I found in the library — I was enticed into this vast universe. The poignant language, the ethos, the characters, the events — it has all deeply impacted me.
You might have noticed both subtle and less subtle references to Tolkien’s works around our page and in our social media. What is it that makes the tales of Middle Earth rhyme so well with Red Hat Factory?
Trees, trees, trees — Tolkien’s love for nature
If you spend some time in Middle Earth, you’ll soon notice that Tolkien was a lover of the wild, and rather reluctant to embrace the changes the industrial revolution brought about.
“How I wish the ‘infernal combustion’ engine had never been invented.”J.R.R. Tolkien
Sauron, the ultimate evil of the Third Age and the heart issue and namesake of the Lord of the Rings, is all about industrializing. Bending nature to his will rather than working in harmony with it. Using machines to mow down vast forests to fuel his machines — developing in his followers a mind of metal and wheels.
This subject could turn into a long winded political discussion, but I’m not heading that deep.
The idea is that the Lord of the Rings, through the intent and spirit of the author, conveys a love for the vast untouched wildernesses, as well as the simple undisturbed rural lifestyle of hobbits. It comes from a complex root system of beliefs, as do all convictions. But I’d rather just mention the branches.
What beanie would a hobbit wear?
The hobbit lifestyle is one of a classic farm life — inspired, if not almost completely modelled on the rural lifestyle of the English countryside, that seemed to slip more and more away though Tolkien’s lifespan.
“I am in fact a Hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food…”J.R.R. Tolkien
There’s a lot to be said about health and how closeness to nature, and physical hard work in symbiosis with the earth seems to be the age old remedy.
Goop published a great article on longevity, and as a wool-peddler I just wanted to point out that among the earth’s longest living human’s, are shepherds. The benefits of wool has no end, it seems.
“Even as Silicon Valley and scientists all over the world try to crack the code for living longer and aging better, the best ways to increase health and extend longevity remain decidedly low-tech.”An article on Goop
A hobbit, therefore, would probably endeavor to enjoy the four hours it takes to knit a Red Hat Factory beanie, while chit chatting with their neighbor. A hobbit would wear handmade, because the infernal combustion engine driven massive knitting machine needed to do it mechanically would scare the life out of them.
Here I am, sitting in front of my very industrialized computer, writing an article on being in touch with nature. What’s the point?
We as brands do put some sort of message out there whether we try to or not — and though we are imperfect, and it will be, or come across as hypocritical at times, I want to advocate a simple lifestyle through our brand. Your life is not made better by following the latest fad — rather by seeking out and understanding timeless truths.
We believe that before trying too hard to keep up with the Kardashians, you need to wind down and be true to yourself. To enjoy what you’re doing — or do what you’re called to, some would say.
That is why we decided to tell the stories of fishermen, leathercrafters, climbers, painters and denim hunters, who all do what they do with great passion.