About me:Bill has a background in art; He studied art in Berkeley as a painter and sculptor. Even while in the Air Force he escaped the drudgerous duties by doing artwork for the squadron commanders at every base assignment.
Born in 1948 he grew up watching great "Hat Movies" as he puts it. "The best movies used the right hat to create or distinguish a character" Bill learned to appreciate that the right hat helps to frame the face and become and integral part of ones appearance and image. Bill recognized that the form and look of a hat could affect the personality projected to a great extent; An actor could be made to look serious, and Intelligent, foolish, or rustic and downhome, etc.
Bill got started in retail in 1974 after 4 years in the air force. The original store was all imports but included some Latin American Ethnic hats. Over the next few years the store changed over to mostly outdoor clothing and more hats, including western hats. Never one to leave things alone he began to customize his own hats that he would wear in the store. As it turned out customers literally bought the hats off his head. Soon he began spending most of his time blocking hats. "Knudsen Hat Company" was started in 1981 as an adjunct to the outerwear at the Fisherman's Wharf store. The store was re-modeled and changed over to all hats in 1985. Hats had become Bill's art form. By then he usually spent all day forming custom hats.
"Golden Gate Western Wear" opened at fisherman's wharf in 1989 four blocks from the "Knudsen Hat Co." store. The hat store was eventually closed and consolidated to the western store, which was much larger.
"Golden Gate Western Wear" is no longer in San Francisco. We have two larger locations in the East Bay. We miss San Francisco for the friends we made from around the world and many celebrities that came into the stores. But business in San Francisco is problematic, we're happy to be out of there.
~Suggestion~ Don't get Bill started talking about San Francisco, he'll go on and on about how it has gone to hell.
Bill has made hats under the "Knudsen Hat Co." label since 1981. Bill hand formed early style cowboy hats and made what has become one of the most popular vintage styles, the "Gus Crease". We always called it the "Bull Rider", and others called it the "Montana Crease". But Robert Duvall reintroduced it to the world in "Lonesome Dove" with his likable character Gus Mcrae. We have made them for many years and there are many variations.
Bill wanted a Pale Rider hat for himself, but the only way was to make his own tools and equipment. The Pale Rider hat has become our most distinctive, the Pale Rider hats you've seen in "Shoot" and "Guns of the Old West" magazines were ours. In fact our hat customers are often photographed for the pages of "Cowboy Chronicle", "American Cowboy", "True West", etc. Knudsen formed hats are distinctive in the amount of sculpture in the style.
~"Ya need to Getcha one"~
Who I'd like to meet:
- Status: Married
- Orientation: Straight
- Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
- Children: Proud parent
- Occupation: Owner / Hatmaker
- Pleasant Hill / Richmond, Ca US