HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) --Are hats more than just fashion accessories?
If you ask Marc Williamson, the owner of Harlem's Flamekeepers Hat Club, the answer is yes. He says the right hat should elicit an emotional response.
Williamson has been selling hats for 25 years, most recently in his very own shop. The self-proclaimed Mad Hatter of Harlem started wearing a top hat two months after opening The Flamekeepers Hat Club.
"One thing about Harlem was there were actually gents up here wearing hats," he said.
A customer agreed that Harlem was the right choice.
"I sort of feel like he's reinterpreting something," he said. "You know, we old dudes, we like our hats. But he's bringing it to another generation. He's giving it a little spin that Puffy and the guy would want and their audience would want."
Williamson hopes the Flamekeepers Hat Club's Harlem location is the first of many, but for now, he has one goal in mind - get a hat on everyone's head.
He says he has seen people dance when they find the right hat, and for those walking into Flamekeepers Hat Club, there is usually something to walk out with. He notes that it may take several tries to find the right hat, but he keeps each individual in mind while helping his customers find the right one.
"A hat is definitely a vehicle of self-expression," he said. "So I try to make it feel like them when they're walking out."
As for where the hats come from, Marc sketches his ideas, gathering inspiration from friends and his surroundings.
"A lot of friends of mine are artists, and I get a lot of inspiration from them as far as colors, textures and what things go well together," he said.
The hats are then made in the United States and abroad.
Williamson also notes that some hats garner more attention than others, and most times, the simpler design performs better in the shop.
"Overdone takes a longer time for it to walk out of the shop," he said.
Williamson also has a hat-picking tip for viewers.
"I tell people you don't have to have a hat that matches everything you're wearing, but as long as you have one color to tie in to the color of the hat, then you're good to go," he said.
For more information, visit FlamekeepersHatClub.com/.