Marina Kobali: Tourists buy our unique hats as a souvenir

As much as fashion is repeated when it comes to hats, ie the basic models are similar, each of them is unique, because a lot depends on the decorations and tones, says Marina


There is no head that is not for the hat, we have so far managed to convince many people who come to our salon just out of curiosity. I really like when people come in, convinced that they won't find anything that might suit them, so we manage to persuade them to try more models and in the end we almost always find one where they feel special, so in the end they leave the hat shop, he says. Marina Kobali, who last year, after the death of her mother-in-law Nada Kobali, took over one of the most famous Zagreb crafts 'Kobali šeširi', today one of the recognizable symbols of the city of Zagreb.
He adds that this has been known and seen in recent years, when the tourist momentum began to be felt in Zagreb, because, in addition to regular domestic customers, tourists often came to the salon, to whom someone recommended to bring a hat as a souvenir. Among them were those who had already bought one for previous visits, so they returned for a new one, convinced of the quality. And traditionally good customers are both young couples and members of their families preparing for the wedding.




- Couples come to us not only from Zagreb, but also from Split, Osijek, Rijeka, and along with the whole of Croatia, with recommendations from those who have already ordered, which is a great confirmation. Protection measures due to the corona virus pandemic have delayed weddings a bit this year, so now that they have started scheduling again, we have a big crowd - says Marina and adds that each hat is still made by hand, from putting material on molds to making decorations. .

- And as much as fashion is repeated when it comes to hats, ie the basic models are similar, each of them is unique, because a lot depends on how the decorations are placed, what tones you will emphasize, how the brim of the hat falls and the like. So even if you have a model at home, every hat should be tried on your head, because even the 'same' one to the one you have at home can end up different, says Marina. Although she started making hats only after she married Branko Kobali, her love for hats was born long before that love, she says.

Namely, her father was faithful to the classic style of dress, so he even wore a tie at home, and never left the house without a hat. So she fell in love with them as a little girl, so she quickly 'found' herself with her mother-in-law Nada about that love. They loved to talk about fashion and hats, and as she learned a little about the job, her mother-in-law gave her more and more freedom around making the models she worked on.




- When I got married at the age of 19, we were both still studying and our parents financed us. But we didn’t want to be just a burden, so we agreed that my husband would take over the finances and I would help with the store. So I studied for the first ten years, first at the Teachers' Academy, and then Social Work in Law, and worked in a workshop - says Marina. As it was the time when the Homeland War began, at that time she volunteered to work with refugees, primarily children and the elderly, but she never worked in the profession. And don't regret it.

- I loved the profession for which I was educated, but at that time I was already working. And ten years after I got married, I became a mother and decided to dedicate myself to my son's upbringing - says Marina. So she stopped working in the workshop and only occasionally worked with her husband on projects where she could use her social work experiences, until life determined that she simply had to return to hats. Namely, mother-in-law Nada Kobali was very vital and dedicated to her work until the last day, so they never talked about who will take over the job and how when she is not there one day, even when they started noticing that she gets tired more often. And then last August, at the age of 77, she accepted for the first time their suggestion to take a break from work. And in the evening she reported that she was not feeling well, and the next day - she was not there.

Marina says that she believes that her mother-in-law tacitly expected her to continue her work, and for her there was almost no dilemma about whether to continue what the wonderful women of the Kobali family had been building for decades.

- Men from the family have never interfered in making hats, so my husband and son have never tried it, so now I am looking for a daughter-in-law - says Marina jokingly.




The love for hats in the Kobali family was born after the Second World War, when Katarina Šušteršić Kobali, Nada's mother, started working on making hats in the Tomić fur shop, in Masarykova Street in Zagreb, the story goes. After opening her own business in the 1970s, her daughter Nada took it over, and soon turned it into an atelier, which she built into a recognizable brand. So today, there are few families who appreciate fashion and pay attention to dressing without at least two handmade hats from her workshop, but there are also those with a larger collection.

- Among the customers, we also have people who really know how much such a fashion detail is worth, so they have about 15 or 20 copies. Because, you can have one dress in your wardrobe, which with a choice of different fashion details, such as belts or hats, you can turn into several different combinations, which you can wear on different occasions - says Marina. And she is very determined that there are no rules about who a hat 'fits', or 'when a hat is worn', which can often be read in fashion magazines.




- It is true, for example, that in summer we choose hats with a larger brim, because they have the function of sun protection. But in an evening out, it can also be a hat with a smaller brim. In addition, it is often said that tall women fit hats with a large brim and I must admit that this is often confirmed to me when women try on models. But there is no claim that short women, or those with stronger figures, do not fit wide brims well, on the contrary - it all depends on the personality and how the woman wears the hat. If you find the right model for yourself, it often happens that the whole guard changes with it and brings a dose of self-confidence that changes the whole impression - explains Marina.




She adds that a real hat model can highlight the most beautiful things on a woman, such as eyes or lips, can lengthen a wide face, divert attention from some disproportions on the body, and 'spice up' any clothing combination by 'lifting' and changing it.

- And the prejudice is that today, due to a more casual style of dressing, and the fact that today jeans are often part of a business outfit, hats are worn less often. They are always accompanied by a sports hat and women have started to 'take' them from men - he points out. You can also wear a hat with any combination - from an elegant dress for an evening out, to a raincoat that you will wear during a rainy and windy day. And the good side of quality hats, for which you need to set aside a little more money, is that they will never go out of fashion, he adds.

- As with most other accessories, fashion trends do not change drastically with hats. Only some details change, so you can combine a valuable piece that you have in your closet for decades - says Marina Kobali.


Author: Marijana Matković
Photo: Duška Stepanov

Original article (Croatian): 24sata Lifestyle