In the 1860s, John B. Stetson (the son of a New Jersey hatter) invented the original hat of the pioneering American West, which he named the "Boss of the Plains." He created the hat out of necessity while traveling and panning for gold in Colorado. His unique design, made of untanned, felted beaver fur, proved perfect for the demands of the rugged western terrain.
Stetson’s new hat grew in popularity thanks to its wide brim, light weight, weather resistance, and tall crown which helped regulate temperature around the wearer's head. The Boss of the Plains would become the cornerstone of Stetson’s hat business and the antecedent of the cowboy hat and all other "western style" hats.
In 1865, Stetson returned east and founded his hat company in Philadelphia. The Boss of the Plains was the first hat he produced, and it became a runaway success. By 1886, Stetson's hat company was the largest in the world, and by 1906 his state-of-the-art, mechanized factory was producing 2 million hats a year.