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The Steve Zissou Hat — An Iconic Red Hat

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen Published on August 25, 2020 in Essentials Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

The Red Hat Factory hand knit beanie style has multiple sources of inspiration, but one sticks just a little bit above the crowd. The Steve Zissou hat from Life Aquatic.

Life Aquatic is a Wes Anderson movie from the early 2000’s, starring Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, a documentary film maker and oceanographer setting out hunting for the shark that ate his friend Esteban.

Steve Zissou Red Hat
Steve Zissou in his iconic red hat.

The movie is polarizing. Critics don’t care for it, but still it has a cult following. Say what you want about Life Aquatic, but one thing it really has going for it. Style.

The film is a study in red hats.

First time I saw it, I understood a whole subculture of people worshipping the red hat. It’s just plain cool, and its cultural roots run deep. Each of the crew members in Life Aquatic has their own style of hat, but they’re all red, and it creates a united front.

Isn’t that what we are looking for when exploring our style? Fitting in, but still maintaining our own personal touch? Because of that, the movie has been such a strong inspiration for our beanies. Each one wears it their own way, but they’re still united by color and quality.

While the Southlander, our first beanie model, wasn’t really inspired by Klaus Daimler’s beanie in the film, it is not that different either (sans pom pom). The decision to make the North Cap a permanent part of our collection however, was definitely fueled by a crisp image in our mind: The one of Steve Zissou pointing to the future, while the hat gloriously sits as a counter point atop his head.

Steve Zissou points with his pointy red beanie.
The pointed red beanie of Mr. Zissou.

Jaques Cousteau, Steve Zissou’s real life origin

Life Aquatic itself draws a lot of inspiration from, and is in fact dedicated to, Jaques Cousteau. Jaques in turn is another great inspiration for Red Hat Factory. I actually first heard of him in conjunction to being shown Life Aquatic.

Jaques was an explorer and adventurer — famous for pioneering diving equipment — and is well known for his tiny red beanie hat. Life Aquatic pounces on this little red beanie hat and magnifies it in the movie.

I guess as a conclusion, I’d have to thank my brother in law Ben for showing me the film and exemplifying how cool red hats can be, thank Wes Anderson for making an aesthetic choice that impacted our product line, and the root of it all, Jaques Cousteau who turned the red beanie into a symbol of adventure and pioneering.

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