Wales bucket hat boom as prices soar on back of World Cup qualification
The popularity of Welsh football has caused a boom in bucket hat sales, with the original Spirit of 58 bucket hats changing hands for hundreds of pounds online.
The hats popularised by the Welsh clothing brand have become synonymous with the Wales football team and the Red Wall.
Since diehard Wales football fan Tim Williams launched the label in 2010, Spirit of 58 has dovetailed perfectly with the reinvention of Welsh international football.
The Bala-based company has created a whole range of clothing linked to Welsh football.
However, it’s the bucket hat that remains Spirit of 58’s most popular item.
And with Wales qualifying for two European Championships and now a World Cup, the SO58 hats have become like gold dust.
Sold out on the company’s website, they have been changing hands for hundreds of pounds on auction site eBay.
The original Spirit Of 58 bucket hats, that usually retail for less than £20, have morphed into many different versions over the years, but it’s testimony to Tim’s love of music and The Stone Roses in particular that it exists at all.
“In the late ‘80s and ‘90s me and my mates from Bala were all into the Roses,” he says. “A gang of us went to Spike Island. (Stone Roses drummer) Reni wore a bucket hat and introduced the world to it. He and the Roses had a big influence on a lot of people back then and the style of clothing they wore.
“We were into music and clothes and it’s stayed with me all these years later. Local people probably looked at us back then and thought ‘what the hell do they look like?’ But we didn’t care. It was a lot of fun going to gigs, getting into the car and driving to gigs in Manchester and Liverpool.
“I started supporting Wrexham when my dad took me to my first match aged nine, and music, football and fashion have always gone hand in hand.
“But I took a chance with the bucket hat and luckily for me it worked.”
Tim says it’s a compliment that the hats are so popular.
“Its a compliment in a way I suppose,” he states. “I suppose I’ve created a little bit of monster which is entirely down to the demand.
“It only comes about when Wales qualify for major tournament. It happened in Euro 2016 with hats being sold for more than a 100 pounds.
“Obviously, I can’t do anything about that and I try and let it go over my head. If people are willing to pay it then good luck to them.
“It’s now cool to be a Welsh fan isn’t it.”
Despite the original SO58 hats being endlessly copied, Tim is pragmatic and says there will soon be new stock added to the SO58 website in the coming weeks, with many new styles to come.
“There are lots of guys selling bucket hats now. They do what they do, but I constantly thinking of new styles of bucket hats, although it is difficult to keep up with all the enquiries.
“I’m keeping the post office in Bala going, but I don’t bring out thousands as I’m keeping things fresh.
I get asked ‘why don’t you order more?’ and I ask them ‘would you have ordered a bucket hat if we had lost on Sunday?’ That’s your answer in a nutshell. I’m a small, independent business and I can’t afford to be stuck with thousands of bucket hats.”
Tim does however have a message for those who are interested in getting their hands on a Spirit Of 58 bucket hat.
“There will be in plenty in time for the summer holiday season. Like I say, I’m not a national company, I’m not an international company, I’m an independent Welsh business.
“If people are patient they’ll be able to get one well in time for the World Cup.”
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