As many of you know, I am always looking for ways to improve the construction of our fezzes and we are proud to present what we consider the pinnacle of our fez making endeavors. The Mark VI features many of the improvements we have incorporated in the previous versions over the last two years along with a few new details we have developed in the last few months.
Since we don’t follow a seasonal product cycle it is difficult to say when one version ends and the next one begins. The Mark VI actually started to roll out in late November/early December 2010 while the last of what would be the Mark V would be rolling off the line. All of the fezzes listed in our Newest section are either Mark V or VI while the Classic Fezzes section is Mark IV with the occasional Mark III fez.
Let’s walk down memory lane and take a look at the various stages of Fez-o-rama fezzes.
The Before Time
Way back in 1999 I made my first fezzes for what became the founding members of the Cult of the Eye and for the next five years I only made fezzes for members. Then at Tiki Oasis 2005 I introduced what can be considered the direct precursor to the Fez-o-rama fez. Under the name Cult of the Eye I made 25 or so low profile fezzes with three different designs. This prototype featured a loosely quilted satin lining with a embroidered Cult of the Eye label on the inside. These quickly sold out and the decision to start Fez-o-rama was made.
The Mark I
What we’ll call the Mark I was launched the next year and featured a satin lining with a smaller quilt and an embroidered Fez-o-rama label around the tassel hole on the inside tip. At this time I handmade the size tags using transfer paper and cotton broadcloth.
The Mark II
The Mark II came about when I started looking for a better solution for the lining fabric. The quilted satin we had been using didn’t have the body for the introduction of the taller traditional height fezzes and in warm weather the satin wasn’t most comfortable thing against the skin. At this time we began having our lining fabric custom quilted in cotton to get the body and feel we were looking for. Over time we tried out a few different different weights for the lining as we worked to dial in the balance between feel and body.
The Mark III
The Mark III introduced a two piece shells for better fit on taller fezzes by reducing the amount of bias in the cut. This helped stand up against the weight of larger tassels and reduced the seam bulk at the back of the fez. We also changed the design of the embroidered label on the inside tip as well as switching to manufactured wash and size labels.
The Mark IV
The Mark IV began an era of rapid change in my fez engineering efforts. There was a time there where I would draft a complete set of patterns and before I managed to test them I would have created a whole new version. Because of the rapid progress the next few version kinda blur together. The most visible change is a switch to a diamond quilt pattern on the lining that came in either red or black. On the construction side of things we continued with the split sides on the shells but introduced a change in the larger sizes to improve the fit. At first I created a larger circular tip for the XL, 2X and 3X sizes to accommodate a more vertical head shape but soon changed to an oval tip for the plus sizes to accommodate a narrow head in the larger sizes. While this added a layer of complexity I was much happier with the shape and how it complemented the face.
The Mark V
Before I could get the Mark IV into full production I once again considered making changes and decided to bite the bullet and completely rework not only the patterns but also the techniques I used to make the fezzes. Starting in late 2009 –the 10th anniversary of my first fezzes– I started the process of developing the Mark V Fez. First I carried the split side idea to the lining of the fez. Like the shell, this reduced the amount of bias in the cut adding a bit of stability and moving all of the seam bulk to the sides. Again this added the strength needed to accommodate large tassels like the 13″ UberTassels I occasionally hand make. The other substantial change we made is the addition of the wrapped edge with a Petersham hat band. This was done to reduce the seam bulk at the bottom edge of the fez and adds a bit of stability along the way. Once again before we finished making the transition to the Mark V the Mark VI was in the works.
The Mark VI
So beginning in late November 2010 we started to roll out the latest version of our fezzes. This time the change did not involve the patterns but a small change to the hardware. From the very beginning we designed our fezzes to allow swapping out the tassels the only problem was getting the cord thru the small sewn eyelets in the tip. With the Mark VI we have switched to a brass eyelet for tassel insertion done in the same finishes as our optional mesh vents that have been offered since 2009. Along with the new eyelet we have gone from a stitched Fez-o-rama label on the center with a separate wash label and size label sewn into the edges to a four color woven label inspired by the early record labels of the 1930s. The new label design was also used on our coasters and stickers a good six months before we got them worked into the fezzes.
So after all of that, I think I can say the Mark VI will be around for awhile. Now that we have the 4.5″ Low Profile fez and the 5.75″ High Profile fez dialed in -along with the two-tone variations- I can focus on introducing new styles like the Venti Fez -seen on Martin Cate at Smugglers Cove and more recently on Leo Laporte as the Chief TWiT Fez- and even non-fez based hats.
So keep an eye on this space. We have big plans for the new year!