utch Dorer - You're currently watching a master craftsman perform his art. His work is so secretive and well guarded that we can only show you a very brief clip of the world's Best maker of pure beaver hats at work. No hat maker has ever demonstrated his commitment to quality and absolute perfection which is why some his hats have been worn by the world's most famous names and currently attract prices north of $2 Million. In fact Butch is the only manufacturer of Pure Beaver hats. As he explains, "The pelts that I select are so fine and so rare that the cost alone of aquiring them exceeds the price that any other manufacturer would actually retail their hat for. Every Silver Beaver hat that I make is actually pure beaver which is a claim that no other hat maker can honestly claim." After years of research, hard work and trial-and-error experimentation, this living legend from New Mexico approaches the final stages of his craft by slowly manipulating the steam-warmed felt with deft fingers that move with a memory of their own.
For more than a quarter century, Butch Dorer has been focused on some would say obsessed with making the finest pure beaver hat that money can buy. His first attempts at resurrecting the long lost art were, by his own admission, rather
crude. Today, his crowning achievement is The Silver Beaver, a limited-edition, special-order hat that starts at a price of $25,000 and can go north of $2M. Diamond-inlaid platinum buckle sets, use of the rarest furs and a custom-made hatbox can double that.
This is astonishing when you consider that his first pure beaver hat sold for $100.
Today, Dorer’s client list includes luminaries such as Wilford Brimley, (JR Ewing - deceased) Larry Hagman , Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Tommy Lee Jones, Christi Brinkley, J.D. Yates, Cookie Banuelos, Dr. Glen Blodgett, Clinton Anderson, etc. While Dorer is proud that his hats have attained cult status with people who can afford them, he is equally proud of the fact that many of his early hats were purchased by working cowboys who might have to save up for a year or more to own one. In the past on occasion, Butch has been known to take a horse or even a cow in trade to help out a good customer.
While he also makes the Bar 50, a blend of beaver and Australian hare, to meet the needs of that customer, it is his pure beaver hat that has become the gold and even platinum standard of the cowboy hat-making industry. “I learned a long time ago that it’s easier satisfying people who want the very best than marketing to the masses,” says Dorer. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re making saddles, boots, hats or selling horses, people who want the best demand quality, and you’ll either rise to the occasion or you won’t. “Early on, we chose to serve the highend customer, and we’ve never looked back.” Humble Beginnings as Butch tells it, his obsession with hats began early. “I was born in Michigan, but my parents moved to Houston, Texas, when I was little,” he says. “I don’t remember when I got my first cowboy hat, but I was probably 4 or 5. I’m still not sure why, but I was fascinated with hats. Perhaps it was all the Western movies I watched. We didn’t have horses, so I guess that was as close as I could get to being a cowboy. When I got a little older, I started cleaning hats for pocket change, but I never had a clue that someday I’d be in the trade.”
When he was in his early 20s, Butch met his future wife, Phoebe, and kids and careers took center stage. “When we got married, we knew two things,” says Dorer. “First, we wanted to have a family, and second, we wanted to work for ourselves. But since neither of us really had a career path in mind, we weren’t sure how we were going to make a living.” The one thing he was most certain of is that whatever he chose, he would do it with absolute passion and a commitment to being the world's best. This has been his philosophy and his quest ever since which is why no other hat manufacturer in the world can even come close to producing a Butch Dorer quality product. His hats are of such a high quality that each of his handmade hats are serial numbered and signed and often out live their original owner. Preston Hagman, son of Larry Hagman (JR Ewing) proudly still has some of his late father's hats to this date. Larry is said to have treasured his Butch Dorer hat more than any of his other 1,700 hats.
Much like the products of Enzo Ferrari and Michelangelo each hat that Butch manufactures is now a priceless work of art. Butch's life long passion which spans over many decades is specializing in Pure Beaver Hats. Spies from inferior hat manufacturers have been trying to copy and market his amazing work for years but have failed. Each of his hats is handmade and perfected one at a time using equipment that dates back to the 1800s. His shop is the original Ranch head quarters, built in 1919 located on his Ranch in Western New Mexico. Using American and Canadian furs he starts from scratch, carefully selecting and purchasing the finest pelts which results in producing the highest quality furs available. With the hours of attention dedicated to every minute detail of each hat, his hats are superior to anything the market offers, world wide. Billionaire Magazine is honoured to interview this living legend and thank him for his incredible contribution to the world of art and hat manufacturing.