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Why did our African safari hats fade and shrink?


We, a family of 14, made up of 2 generations, traveled to Kenya for our family re-union in Feb í10. Our Kenya tour operator gave us smashing jungle green African safari hats which were very handy under the hot sun. All the safari hats had different African animals printing at the forehead and we planned to keep them as African clothing-souvenirs.

We didnít wash the safari hats during the period of safari but soon after arrival home all hats were washed and they all faded and shrank to child-head size.

What caused this? Considering the washing, though done in different households, was by machine, could this be what ruined the safari hats.

They were absolutely very nice hats and we are sorry that we canít use them again.


First I commend your Kenya tour operator for giving you safari hats during your safari and I will answer your question on the sincere assumption that his gesture was a sign of goodwill and he did not knowing give you hats that were defective.

Though you do not say what material your safari hats were made of it is a fair to conclude that they had a very high percentage of cotton which unfortunately is a natural plant fiber and cotton garments (hats included) shrinks on washing especially in hot water. To this add that they crumble (wrinkle) quite easily and fade if colors were not properly fixed, which I feel is what happened to your african safari hats.

But cotton remains the world favorite fabric for it's versatility and features such comfort, it is breathable and durability. So how do textile makers solve shrinkage and wrinkling in cotton fabrics? The solution is in pre-shrinking the fabric before sewing, adding quality color fasteners (fixers) and/or mixing it with synthetic fibers to get a wrinkle free fabric.

Going back to your safari hat, it is possible that the above cotton-correction measures had not been done or if done, not to satisfactory levels of withstanding wash.

You tend to think it is the machine wash that did the damage. This may only have hastened the rate of shrinking and wrinkling, hand washing would after may be several washes have given the same effect on your safari hats. High washing temperature which could significantly have contributed to the fading.

Let me wrap this up by bringing in your relationship with your Kenya tour operator, whose identity I don't know. Would you consider writing to him a review on your safari hats because it might help him to know the feedback of how his give-away is performing?

I hope I have been of help.

Anne Huysman
Ontdek Kenya Safaris

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