Designer Spotlight: Royal Stag Custom Hats

Dec 16, 2015 | Designer Spotlight, Fashion | 1 comment

Hats can be hard. I hear it all the time among my friends and clientele: ‘I could never pull off a hat’. I know exactly where they’re coming from. You need a lot of confidence because, without a doubt, hats draw attention. I remember watching one of my style mentors Dina Simone*- I’d go out with her a lot in New York City, and her fabulous style was always attention-getting; but when she wore a hat? It was head-turning, literally.

This has been my personal experience as well. I have a few hats in my collection and they are statement-making, none more so than Cate Leuenberger’s Royal Stag Custom Hats. Obviously they’re fabulous, which Cate will speak about below. For all of you who think you can’t pull the look? You can, and her wonderful work will give you the inspiration to try.

Tell me about your collection? What do you design? How would you describe the style? I make high quality, handcrafted custom hats. The styles are classically oriented shapes like the fedora, homburg, gaucho or the derby with a modern spin. I make hats for ladies and gents that are rooted in classic men’s dress wear –  they are all timeless pieces that will last a lifetime. I have around 25 prototypes in my shop. Each are available for custom order and can be tweaked in all sorts of ways to fit the customers style and to make a truly one of a kind piece. Each hat is handmade at my workshop in North Boulder.

Why hats? I love hats. Aren’t they the coolest thing ever (besides shoes maybe)?

What is your design process? It’s all steam, fire, sanding and stitches… a truly magical process.  Most of my hats are custom to order. I meet with the client in person or by phone if they are out of state. I measure the client’s head to determine ideal size and shape of head – then we pick style, brim size, color and quality of felt and the trim (hatband). We make the hat and then its shipped out or picked up.

A lot of the development of the styles comes simply from working on hats. I learn new things and get new ideas from making mistakes and of course working with my customers.

Where do you get your inspiration? A lot of my inspiration comes from actual hats –  hats you see in movies, other hat makers, old magazines, traditional hats from other cultures, or vintage hats I find in thrift stores.

You make many different styles of hats- which is your most popular? There is no real ranking but “the Roy”, “the Clyde”,“the Prairie”, and “the Poplar” are definitely very popular hats.

You’ve created a special line for local boutique Nod & Rose- tell us about it? We do have our hats available at Nod & Rose: we have a rotating collection of ready made hats in different styles and sizes at the store, plus head measurements right there on custom orders. There’s also Royal Stag certificates for those who want to gift a hat; Nod & Rose will take the order, and I make the hat. All my custom orders are delivered within 4-6 weeks.

Since hats are an accessory, what role does fashion play in your life and your work? Hats are not just an accessory, they are functional. Besides looking very cool and being a great add-on to a look, they also protect us from sun and rain.

Fashion definitely plays a big role in my life. Fashion is art. It’s a way I can express myself in my appearance and in my work. A lot of inspiration comes from the culture of fashion and luckily but not to our surprise, hats are making a big comeback in the fashion world these last few years.

For your money, describe the perfect outfit to accompany a Royal Stag hat? Confidence is what makes people look good, so I always recommend buying whatever makes you feel great. Our hats are extremely versatile. They look great with the basic jeans and a t-shirt or it can easily dress for going out on the town.

Does your personal style influence your designs and, if so, how? I make hats that I wanna wear, in that sense – yes very much so.

Who is the woman who wears your designs? Where is she wearing them? A fashionable woman, a hat person, someone who has an appreciation for quality, a woman who wants a gorgeous custom made hat, a piece of art. Our hats are versatile. You can dress it up or dress it down, wear it to a wedding, Sunday morning brunch, on a bad hair day, or any day you just want that extra protection from the elements.

How do you feel about trends and how they do/don’t affect your designs? Trends don’t affect my designs too much. As I mentioned before there is something timeless about classic hats. They never go out of style. There are times where hats can become more popular or maybe less, but there will always be hat people whom love a well made hat.

Where can people find and purchase your hats? For now, contact me ( or call 303.619.7789), shop at Nod & Rose, or stop into The Bellwether Club in Denver. We also have some exciting news for 2016 where we will be in a New York and Los Angeles-based store by the Fall… Stay tuned!

*Her real name!



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