‘As useful as it is attractive‘ – Frank Smythson, 1925
To mark the exciting new launch of the Panama Collection we decided to delve into the history of the brand and reacquaint you with some of Smythson’s legacy and heritage. The case in point? The iconic Panama Diary.
The Smythson brand has always been synonymous with luxury travel. Inspired by the ingenuity behind the concept of the Panama hat, Frank Smythson decided to attribute these qualities to his leather goods. In 1908 he designed the world’s first portable diary, incorporating the fundamental principles behind the Panama.
The Panama hat originated in Equador in the 17th century. Known for its colonial style, the trilby shaped hat is a long-standing symbol of the golden age of travel. It had a unique characteristic that made it indispensible to the intrepid world traveller, its malleability. The Panama had the ability to be rolled, scrunched or packed in a case whilst always retaining its original shape. In the early 19th century during the Californian Gold Rush, the hats popularity increased. Miners who travelled to California via the Isthmus of Panama became astute to its pliable capabilities. Later in 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt was photographed wearing one at his visit to the Panama Canal, which again regenerated interested in the attire.
Like the hat, the Panama diary (originally named the ‘Featherweight’) was remarkably pliable, its hardwearing binding allowed it to be squashed, folded or used intensively, without becoming marked or misshapen. It was the first to contain the now signature, watermarked Featherweight blue paper, incredibly lightweight yet strong enough to hold the ink of a fountain pen without bleeding through. It was always affectionately referred to as the ‘Panama hat of books’.
To this day the distinctive Panama diary remains virtually unchanged – a testament to the timeless ingenuity of its functional design.
In homage to the enduring design and practicality of the Panama diary, this season sees the launch of the Panama Collection: a range of luxury pieces, inspired by the need to be durable. Incorporating bags, books and tech accessories, all designs are travel focused, whether it will be used for the daily commute or by those with a little more wanderlust.
The new collection incorporates calf leather bags and accessories for both men and women, the collection combines the Panama’s effortless simplicity of shape with the same irresistible array of colour offered across our much-loved books and diaries. From bold, bright flashes of yellow, emerald and fuchsia to more classic and darker shades, each piece is paired with smooth navy or pale grey interiors for a subtle, fresh finish.
A vast range of accompanying accessories offers unprecedented choice, catering to every need and style. Travel and technology comes into its own with a new array of travel wallets and cases for all the latest tablets, laptops and Smartphones – all in a full selection of colours. iPad and iPhone sleeves are also available with two-tone piping in several different colour combinations, lined with the softest grey or navy suede for the ultimate protection.
Combining the heritage of the past with the needs of the future, the new Panama range stands as a testament to Smythson’s ability to merge history with ingenuity to create a brave, practical and functional new collection.
Shop the Panama Collection now.