Walking into Kokin, a millinery shop on the Upper East Side, and seeing Kokin’s hats, it’s easy to imagine Audrey Hepburn seated at Royal Ascot in My Fair Lady.
Kokin, who has been in the millinery business for 26 years, carries hats in a range of shapes, styles and fabrics.
This year’s spring and summer collection includes hats made of organza, and straw, both natural and colored, as well as great pieces for spring parties and June weddings.
The hats are mostly ready-to-wear, but as Kokin notes, “We offer bespoke service. Hats are such an individual thing and women always want an opinion as to how the hat looks on them.”
The store also offers one-of-a-kind couture pieces, evening wraps, hair accessories, handbags, and belts.
Kokin also proudly points out that his hats are “American made.” His factory is located on 36th Street.
Kokin’s clientele is wide-ranging: Fifth and Park Avenue ladies, “A-list” celebrities (Daphne Guinness, Joan Collins, Whitney Houston, and Alicia Keyes), tourists who “purchase them after meandering over to Third Avenue from a visit at the Metropolitan Museum,” and women battling cancer and hair loss.
And it’s also wide-ranging in terms of age: Recently, he sold four hats to two twenty-somethings living in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
Given the tough economy and the price tag for his hats ($195 and up with some over $1,000), you might ask where’s the market for what seems like such a whimsical purchase.
Kelly Smith, the store’s manager, notes that, “Hats are an affordable luxury. Women find solace and comfort in wearing a beautiful hat. It makes them feel good.”
And, as she points out the price of a nice hat is far more reasonable than a piece of jewelry.
As Easter (April 5), the Kentucky Derby (May 1) and yes, even Royal Ascot (June 15-19) approach, why not take a peek at some of Kokin’s spring and summer offerings.
And, if, like most of us, you don’t have plans to attend the Derby or Royal Ascot, treat yourself to one of Kokin’s hats: It will make you feel good, look special, and as an added bonus will protect you from the summer sun.
Kokin: 1388 Third Avenue at 79th Street; 212 628-1981; www.kokinnewyork.com