Six years ago when I wrote about Moriarty ski caps, I was left with the feeling that the story was not completely over. I initially chalked it up to nostalgia: after all I was not the only one with a reverence for this genre of winter headgear. Michael Maginn at SeniorSkining.com explored the connection he felt to his moth-nibbled hat. He asks and answers the question, “Who owns a hat for 50 years? Well, if it’s a Moriarty hat, perhaps you understand why.” He continues, “It has simply always been part of my kit along with a handful of books, a banjo, a lighter from my Navy destroyer, and other small remainders of the past. Things that travel through life with you have value. When you pick them up again after many years, memories start to emerge in layers. Even after many years. Even a ski hat. That’s why I love my Moriarty hat.”
Having not been able to shake the hold these hats have over me and leaving it to the fates, I serendipitous picked up the trail in Western Pennsylvania. The natural inclination of most men would be to stay safely ensconced in a historic tavern. It would most likely be your lady fair who would first succumb to the cute country store across the street. Even if you could say no to grandma’s nut role and the non-potent potables dispensed out of a vintage refrigerator, you would miss their cache of vintage new old stock Moriarty ski caps. Including my personal favorite design of reindeer in flagrante delicto.
The Country Cupboard is 600 miles from Stowe, Vermont, so how did this stock end up here? Owner Kathy Moore knows the widow of Ed Morrison, the last owner of Moriarty. Morrison died in 2008; his lasting contributions to the Moriarty legacy were the non-itch headband and securing the rights to the Grateful Dead’s iconography, something that made prep deadheads very happy. Moore told me that Mrs. Morrison believed the hats were a cottage industry produced by women in their homes in their spare time, something young people would not be interested in doing today.
I wondered if that old Yankee spirit was really dead. I recalled a story about the founder, Anabel Moriarty. One day a young lady came looking for a refund for a damaged hat. Moriarty examined it and informed her that no refund would be offered because she did not follow the care instructions. Her hulking boyfriend escalated the dispute with a four-letter triade, and the diminutive Moriarty ended it with a well landed punch. I was not looking so much for a pugnacious hatter as someone spunky enough to to hold the contrarian view that these hats are worth producing.
I was indulging in a little wishful thinking when I wrote, “The optimist in me believes the Moriarty hat is simply dormant. I’d also like to think there are some Vermont knitters just waiting for someone to appreciate their work again.” Little did I know that a third generation of Moriartys were going to reclaim their family business. Scott Moriarty’s grandmother was Anabel Moriarty. He grew up in the business, and although he has pursued other vocations, when he meets people on the slopes they want to know if he part of the hat dynastsy and were they can buy them. In 2013 Moriarty used his time recuperating from a knee injury to lay the foundation for Vermont Original Moriarty Hats, known now as M3 for Moriarty third generation.
M3 is now in its fourth winter. “Things are really gaining momentum, we have been swamped with orders and we are training more knitters for next season,” says Jessica Moriarty. Outside the local newspaper, it does not seem that M3 has not gotten a lot of press. The return of the hat has been organic and almost a regional secret. The hats are currently being sold by the Guide Boat Company.
Owner of Hickory & Tweed since 1985 and a veteran of the ski industry since 1968, Skip Beitzel says, “Like Vuarnet, the Moriarty hat also represents a quintessential skiing style of years past. We’re proud to have partnered with M3 and the original Moriarty family of Stowe.”
Whether you’re a nostalgia seeker, avid skier, or a young buck looking to be among the first to embrace the newest olschool trend, the news is “The Hat is back.” Wholesale and retail inquiries can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP