Sun smart with loads of style
Founder Peter Walcott at the Rigon Headwear warehouse.Founder Peter Walcott at the Rigon Headwear warehouse


Expanding the Fella Hamilton sun hat collection has been a big hit since Summer 2019 when Rigon Headwear approached Fella Hamilton to become a stockist. Starting with just one style in one colour, the range has expanded to seven styles in multiple colours including our best-selling Classic Breton Squash & Wash Hat with eleven colours to choose from.

The company began over fifty years ago, when founder Peter Walcott stepped into the headwear industry with his father. Since its beginnings, Rigon has seamlessly combined sun protection with fashion. Trusted to deliver styles that tick so many boxes, this hugely successful business is a leading force for headwear in Australia and is the official licensee to supply headwear under the Cancer Council brand.


Fella Hamilton’s Merchandise Planner Maria Mellios, works closely with Richard Tier [Rigon’s Corporate Sales Manager] and Tina Madsen-Walcott [Rigon’s Owner/Director] to select styles best suited to our customers. Fella Hamilton’s growth in sun hat styles and colour choices is a great reflection of the successful synergy between the two companies, and with this thrilling confidence, our collection is planned to expand next summer with many exciting new styles. Like Fella Hamilton, Rigon Headwear is an Australian family-owned company and where we can, we like to support our local industry.

We eagerly found out more about this family business, it’s values, and it’s design innovations for our Australian climate.

Q& A: With Richard and Tina

1. Rigon Headwear has been designing in Australia for over thirty years and is an Australian iconic brand, tell us a bit about Rigon’s history?

The seeds of Rigon Headwear were planted in the 1970’s when a 19-year-old Peter Walcott got a job at Arthur Haplin Agencies thanks to his father, Richard who supplied the industry components for the Australian made headwear industry. “I had a knack for sales, design and business generally and headwear soon became part of my DNA”. In 1998 Mr Walcott and his father founded Rigon Headwear and started by importing hand woven straw hats and “cut & sewn” hats from China and the Philippines. In the late 1980’s things became difficult for Australian manufacturers. There were tariffs on hat componentry but finished hats were free of tariffs, so local manufacturing was virtually wiped out. Since the 1980’s Rigon’s business has grown enormously through imported sun-protective headwear and the license for Cancer Council Australia. In 2022, Peter Walcott recognising the importance of local production to Australians, re-introduced Australian made ranges and locally made styles are now available in most Rigon ranges including the Cancer Council range.

2. Being a family-owned business, what are Rigon’s values and how does that translate to your products?

A determination for expressing a sun protection message has been the fundamental driving force behind Peter Walcott’s business. For a country which has the most extreme cases of skin cancer in the world, Mr Walcott has been a champion for getting UPF50+ maximum sun protective hats on to the heads of all Australians. Fortunately, he also has a great sense of style and a knowledge of how a hat should be made to fit correctly on Australian heads. This has resulted in ranges of hats which are both sun-protective and very fashionable.

3. Can you talk us through the design process and putting together your range?

The hats which Rigon produce are made to last for years. There is a fundamental direction which is followed in the design process to ensure the style of the hat mirrors the longevity of the hat itself. Rigon does not follow short-term fashion trends. Rather, it produces ranges that look stylish on all heads – even those who claim they are not “hat people”. Mr Walcott is constantly looking for new and exciting headwear materials and styling innovations to ensure his ranges are fresh, interesting and increasingly practical. In his desire to produce the ultimate travel-friendly hat, Mr Walcott worked for months with his production team in developing Flexibraid®. This is a revolutionary textile innovation that interlaces extruded fibres and yarns into one single, continuous braid. Lightweight, breathable and highly resilient, Flexibraid®'s unique and complex structure ensures each design is crush-resistant and travel-friendly by introducing flexible filaments that maintain the shape of each hat regardless of wear time, storage conditions and environment. The first of its kind in the Australian market, this innovative braiding technique is approved by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and provides the wearer with UPF50+ maximum sun protection. Resistant to rain and colour fading, each Flexibraid® design is hand washable and ideal for year-round wear. Another of Mr Walcott’s ingenious innovations is ComfyFit, and internal adjustor which not only assists in tailoring each hat for a perfect fit but will keep your hat securely in place, even in strong winds.

4. You have a range of hats that are endorsed by the Cancer Council. Tell us about how you became aligned with such an important organisation?

For several seasons, Rigon’s hats were available at Cancer Council shops amongst other brands. Since the Rigon range was outselling all the other brands, Cancer Council approached Mr Walcott to become the official licensee to supply headwear under the Cancer Council brand. Thus, a long and successful partnership was started. The alliance fit perfectly with Rigon’s values as a percentage of all sales of the Cancer Council range goes back towards cancer research in Australia. Look out for the Cancer Council swing tag on Fella Hamilton sun hats to find out which hats are in the Cancer Council range.

5. Why is it essential to protect ourselves from harmful ultraviolet rays and is this need increasing?

According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, melanoma of the skin is the third most diagnosed cancer in the country with over 16,800 new cases being documented in 2021. With 1 in 18 Australians purported to fall prey to this disease by the age of 85, sun protection remains the primary form of prevention against this disease. Developed to accommodate even the most extreme environmental conditions, all materials used in Rigon’s ranges, including the brand's innovative Flexibraid® technology, are rigorously tested by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) in Victoria and are scientifically proven to provide an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+. Designed to protect the skin from UV-damage, every UPF50+ style is equipped with a generous brim and concealed crown in order to provide the highest possible sun protection on the market. There is evidence that melanomas of the head and neck are associated with chronic sun exposure so protecting your skin by slapping on a hat is critical. Furthermore, The UVA and UVB rays are almost as harmful during the colder winter months and Rigon has ramped up its message to continue to cover up with a wide-brim UPF50+ hat throughout the winter period.

6. How have you seen fashion hats change over the years?

There is a definite change from people treating the hat as purely utilitarian, to an accessory which beautifully finishes off a great outfit. Instagram and other social media platforms have highlighted the many lifestyle opportunities where a great hat will shine. For years, hats have been neglected by travelers as they needed to be treated with kid gloves and hand-carried to avoid them being crushed in to process. Now savvy travelers can flat-pack their hat inside their suitcase and have the hat arrive at the destination in better shape than themselves – thanks to innovations like Flexibraid®.

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