As mayor of Santa Fe, Alan Webber wears many hats.
He’s the first full-time elected chief executive officer at City Hall.
He heads the governing body, presiding over City Council meetings and setting the agenda.
He’s the public face of the city, not only at local events but around the country.
He’s Santa Fe’s biggest cheerleader and champion.
But it’s the actual hat on top of his head that has been generating attention lately.
“There are as many stories about my hat collection and my recent discovery of the Open Road model as there are editions of The New Mexican,” Webber said, adding that hats are both fun and functional, particularly in a sunny environment such as Santa Fe’s.
“I have always liked hats,” he said. “I’ve admired people who know how to wear a hat, from Harry Truman to Indiana Jones.”
Webber was initially reluctant to be interviewed for a story about his new accessory, which he began wearing on a more regular basis during the summer.
But once the mayor got talking, it’s clear he’s long been “cap-tivated” by hats.
Webber said he has a “pretty good small collection” of different kinds of hats. Though he wears them occasionally, they’re not a daily component of his wardrobe.
But over the summer, in the course of reading a biography on Truman, Webber noticed the 33rd president of the United States sported a Stetson called the Open Road, a style that former President Lyndon B. Johnson also wore.
Webber noted that other presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt, also wore hats.
“I’ve never seen [President Donald] Trump with a hat because it might interfere with his hair — or maybe that is a hat,” he said, laughing.
Webber, a founding editor of Fast Company magazine, said he also read a recent piece in the New York Times about the evolution of cowboy hats as part of an emerging and increasingly popular part of people sporting hats again.
“I also noticed that my friendly neighborhood dermatologist said, ‘Cover your head better,’ ” the mostly bald civic leader said.
“These are all many factors in a complicated calculation. This is not something you just arrive at willy nilly,” he said, laughing. “It’s like an algorithm.”
After he decided “the Open Road model was the way to go,” Webber said he went to Montecristi Custom Hat Works, which has a retail store on Galisteo Street, and found what he called an “excellent” Panama straw hat in that style.
“They’ve got this amazingly interesting device that almost looks like a medieval torture machine that fits over your head and then it gives you a measurement, and it also produces a drawing of the shape of your head,” he said. “It is fascinating.”
Montecristi seamstress Aly Gray said Panamas typically range from $800 to $2,000, though they can be more expensive.
“The version that he got was $1,800,” Gray said, adding that the original cost was $2,100 but that Webber got a discount.
When the season started to change, Webber said he broke out a hat he purchased some years ago from a hat-maker outside Galisteo but never really wore.
“After I was so satisfied and content with the summer version of the Open Road, I took the hat that I had made back to Montecristi, and they were able to reconstitute it and reblock it and refinish it so that it’s also the Open Road model,” he said.
Gray said Montecristi worked on the hat Webber already owned as a special favor to the mayor.
“We don’t typically work on hats that are not our Montecristi hats,” she said.
Webber said the revamped hat, which he called “a very beautiful color of dusty gray,” didn’t fit quite right in its original state.
“Hats are all about being confident and I wasn’t sure I had — in the jargon of our time — that I was rocking the right look,” he said. “It was something that the hat-maker and I collaborated on, which in retrospect, wasn’t really a particularly satisfying outcome. … I missed on that one.
“But the hat, the quality of the material and the quality of the hat-maker’s work was excellent. I just hadn’t evolved enough in my hat taste to have the right model. Now I’m feeling very good about it.”
Webber said he found it “interesting” that people took notice of his hat.
“I think the hat I’m wearing right now, the color and quality of the workmanship, is what people like because this morning I was up at the [Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary] for an event with the governor and the head of the Forest Service, just sitting in the audience wearing my hat, and a couple of people came up and said, ‘I really like that hat,’ ” he said. “So clearly, the hat as a hat is getting positive reviews so far.”
When told the hat made him look somewhat presidential, Webber laughed uncontrollably.
“That,” he said, “is a ring into which I am not throwing my hat.”
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.