Meet Our Team: Michaela Vargas

By Buffalo Exchange Chicago

Meet Michaela, a buyer at Buffalo Exchange Wicker Park. She’s obsessed with hats and took a moment to show us her collection and creations.

Buffalo Exchange Chicago Wicker Park employee

What began your obsession with hats?
This is kind of funny, because when I was little my mom was always trying to put hats on me and I hated them. I would throw them off whenever she put one on. So it’s really ironic that I’m so into hats now. Somewhere along the way I think that I was like, well if I’m gonna have to wear these hats I’ll make them a part of my outfit. I grew to really love them!

Who’s your hat style icon?
The crazy space mod hats that Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges made in the 60s define my vision on hats. They took these weird hats and made them an essential part of the outfit, not just an afterthought. This vision of “the hat is a part of the outfit- you can’t have the outfit without the hat” is how I approach using a hat as an accessory. You have to have a hat with your outfit. You HAVE to!

Buffalo Exchange Chicago military hat.

What makes a hat the coolest accessory?
I think it’s that extra element that a hat brings to an outfit. There’s something that separates you from a crowd when you have a hat on—people notice you. They’re a subtle way of making yourself individual within a space. When I was taking a millinery class [a class on hat making] in school I learned that hats have been used throughout history to make people stand out. They signified you as a person of importance. I also like the challenge of incorporating a hat with the rest of my outfit. Plus, I’m short so hats make me a little taller.

Buffalo Exchange Chicago employee's handmade green fuzzy hat.

What is your favorite hat that you’ve made?
I think it would have to be this one that I made (green fuzzy hat). I like to wear it a lot in the winter because it reminds me of the Grinch. I made this hat pretty spontaneously for a photo shoot that I styled. This one I made for a photo shoot that was homage to Vivienne Westwood & London 70s punk. Because we couldn’t dye the models hair for the shoot, I made this hat to echo how the hair of the 70s punk was really messed up and dyed cool neon colors. I added chains to it to make it more punk rock. It’s also funny because I made it when my hand was broken, which adds to it looking kind of crazy.

Buffalo Exchange Chicago employee in handmade green fuzzy hat.