We’ve been championing the return of the bucket hat for several seasons now and it looks like the fully brimmed hat is finally here to stay. Originally worn by Irish fishermen and farmers to protect them from the rain, the bucket hat has since been used by the U.S. military, worn by film and TV stars, appeared in music videos, and, of course, included in collections from countless streetwear, menswear and fashion designers.
Nowadays, the hat is perhaps most synonymous with early ’90s hip-hop and given the current climate of ’90s revival in fashion, it’s hardly surprising that it’s once again become a staple of pop culture. From modern patterned iterations and military “boonie” styles to furry Kangol hats, we take a look back at some of the bucket hat’s most iconic uses over the years.
Who: Raoul Duke
The hedonistic protagonist of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Raoul Duke was inseparable from his bucket hat throughout the film (as well as Ralph Steadman’s illustrations for the original book) while wreaking drug-fueled havoc in Las Vegas. Paired with a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, Duke showed the bucket has at its most casual – a stylish, dressed down accessory perfect for hot climates.
Who: Lt. Colonel Henry Blake
The man in charge of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Lt. Colonel Henry Blake’s signature fishing lure-adorned bucket hat was a staple of the seminal ’70s military comedy M*A*S*H. Set during the Korean War, the show featured tons of classic military styling, with the bucket hat placed alongside other heritage military garments like the M-65 jacket in a palette of khaki and olive drab.
Who: LL Cool J
LL Cool J was never seen without a hat. From beanies to flat caps to baseball caps, the rapper’s arsenal of headwear was so extensive that people started wondering if there was actually something wrong with his head. However, it was his association with the furry Kangol bucket hat (as seen on the back of his 1985 album Radio) that truly cemented his place in hip-hop style history. While the furry bucket hat would be worn from musicians for decades to come, it was LL Cool J who took Kangol from a company that supplied hats for workers and soldiers to an inseparable part of pop culture.
Who: Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Clan epitomized East Coast hip hop during their reign. The crew’s style was characterized by pieces from Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, their own Wu-Wear label, wheat Timberlands, Wallabees, and, of course, bucket hats. Wu-Tang helped define early ’90s urban style which has since come back in a big way with brands like Supreme basing their latest collection on ’90s aesthetics to designers like Jeremy Scott referencing the supposed Golden Age of Street Fashion. While Ghostface Killah was renowned for his Wallabees and Raekwon was a self-confessed Polo head, Method Man was the MC who most regularly rocked the bucket hat and showed it in the context that it is most known for today – on the head’s of the world’s most stylish rappers.
Who: ScHoolboy Q
Los Angeles-based rapper ScHoolboy Q reps bucket hats hard. The acclaimed MC, who recently released his major label debut Oxymoron, was even quoted as saying, “I don’t spend money on nothing besides my daughter, bucket hats and weed.” Whether it’s vibrant tie-dye, camo, paisley-patterned or a classic Kangol or Polo piece, Q is never seen without one and he wears them as part of his contemporary streetwear style, with hoodies, graphic tees and sneakers.