If hats were as glamorous as diamonds, the name Mark Mejia would likely be inserted in as many hip-hop lyrics as that of Jacob the Jeweler. But this is not the case, so Mejia, the owner of Burank’s Baron Hats, remains a bit of an unknown to those outside of the film industry.
For those in the industry, however, Mejia and his hat shop are indispensable, as the company has created headwear for Tombstone, Back to the Future, The Mask, The Untouchables, Jurassic Park and 3:10 to Yuma as well as for celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan. They made most of John Wayne’s hats as well as Indiana Jones’. The word iconic almost seems inadequate.
Founded by hat making legend Eddie Baron over 75 years ago, Mejia bought the company after some time under Baron’s tutelage.
After making hats in New York for some time, Mejia one day found himself in Baron’s renowned store looking to purchase some hat blocks. “I was immediately taken by Eddie’s talent and experience,” remembers Mejia, “and with his historic shop. I quickly realized that there was literally no one else in the world with his expertise, and no one who could teach me more about hat making.” Mejia began working under Baron. “I was his one and only apprentice,” recalls Mejia. “After an intense time of learning the craft through Eddie, I bought the company.” Since then, Mejia has continued the legacy left by Baron.
To remain in demand, Mejia strives to create the best product he can with the direction he is given. “Some films have very specific demands,” notes Mejia. “Other times, I am asked for my own ideas on the hat, or I work with the costumer, or the director, and many times with the actor to create the perfect hat. I love working with the incredibly talented costumer designers, like Jim Tyson (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).”
It is this type of collaborative process that can often be the most gratifying, as was the case with the recent remake of 3:10 to Yuma. “We worked so very hard and close with the costume designers, and Russell Crowe himself had very specific ideas about this hat,” says Mejia. “They all knew how important the hat was to the character of Ben Wade. I’ve never had such reaction to a hat! The reproduction has now become our most requested hat.”
As for hats that Mejia would like to make more of, he looks to tomorrow. “I’d say I’d love to make more futuristic hats. We did some work on one of the Alien movies, and that was really enjoyable, and a big challenge! Since we make so many historical hats, and known styles, it would be wonderful to have to make something totally out of this world!”
For more information on Baron Hats visit www.baronhats.com.