Milliner Extraordinaire, Crystal Birch, is a leading lady in the sartorial landscape of South Africa - and when it comes to hats or anything adorning the head, she is the go-to for the countries’ most creative characters. 

You see - for a while there, it looked like hats were making a dramatic exit-stage-left, with elegant pillboxes, bowler hats and the like fading into obscurity as mere archival memories in the back of ouma’s closet.

For a brief moment it seemed like all we were left with was the beanie or peak cap - that is, until in a move of sheer vision, Crystal was called to turn her degree from Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion right on its head (!) by preserving the art of millinery; while simultaneously re-introducing us to the inherent power that only the hat can hold for completing a look.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Crystal studied under milliner maestro’s, Piers Atkinson and Noel Stewart, in London - advancing her skills with impeccable craftsmanship.

In 2018, Crystal trained under her mentor Harry Faktor of Parisian Milliners - a hat manufacturer established in 1936 - eventually acquiring the heritage company and transforming it into The Hat Factory.

Although Crystal remains a guardian of millinery tradition, her power lies in her rare ability to elevate hat-making as effortlessly chic and totally relevant for the 21st century. Under Crystal’s watchful eye, every hat is designed and imbued with its own unique essence by an incredible in-house team; championing local production for global locations. 

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