On May 28th of last year, hatWRKS owner Gigi Gaskins posted a photo to Instagram of the Nashville hat store’s latest concoction: a yellow Jewish star patch with the words “unvaccinated” set in the center. The post set off a firestorm of hysterical reactions reaching global press outlets such as The Guardian and Heavy who all issued very serious condemnations of the patch and its creator. An angry mob soon encircled the store as protestors held signs saying, "No Nazi's in Nashville". The irony of the reaction to what was an attempt to bring attention to the creeping tyranny we witnessed over the course of the pandemic was clearly lost on nearly everyone.
Gaskins and the store were quickly labeled anti-Semitic and a whole host of other hateful and inaccurate labels that still plague the store to this day. Soon after, brands withdrew their contracts and forced hatWRKS to get creative seeking vendors and manufacturers that will continue to work with the hat store. Nevertheless, the store continues to thrive and maintain its rebellious spirit even despite the happenings of that day that they internally refer to as “The Apocalypse.”
hatWRKS has always maintained a jocular position between 12th South and 8th Avenue with loud billboard advertisements and a colorful social media presence that bring life to the increasingly stale and corporate bend of Nashville culture. Sure, you can go shop at a corporate-owned hat store and talk to someone who didn’t know anything about hats two days prior to getting hired for the job. Or, you can venture into hatWRKS which is a bit like walking into what one imagines a hat store was like before people got angry from staring at their phones too much — a place brimming with life, overflowing with hats, and helmed by an eccentric and charismatic hatmaker. When asked if her experience over the past year has made her think about keeping her opinions to herself, Gaskins replies, "I'm certainly tired, but we can't be silent. Everything depends on the people standing up and speaking out."
So, for remaining so colorful and lively in a world that increasingly looks more and more sterile, we give hatWRKS our “Most Colorful Commentator” Award.