Hats off to a beret fan

BY TOBIAS BROCKIE - THE WELLINGTONIAN
Last updated 05:00 17/09/2009
Daan Kolthoff
TOBIAS BROCKIE
BERETS ON THE BRAIN: Daan Kolthoff wears one of his favourite berets.

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Berets are coming back in, if Ngaio man Daan Kolthoff has anything to do with it.

Mr Kolthoff, who moved to New Zealand from the Netherlands seven years ago, has been writing a blog about the quintessentially European headwear since April. He said the subject interested him so much that he had not only started selling them, but would be writing a book about them.

He said berets were a family tradition.

"My grandfather used to wear one, my father wore one, and I started wearing them I guess 25 years back, or so," he said.

"I just like them, they're such a versatile sort of headgear they're pocketable, you can roll them up, they're easy to wear."

He had worked in medical emergency aid in several countries, and for him, the beret had become a symbol of humanity and normality.

The project came about when he noticed there was a lack of substantial information about berets available in English, and decided to fill this gap by writing a book about them.

The blog was intended to test the level of interest in this specialised topic, and thousands of international viewers later, it turned out to be a success.

"It's amazing, people interested in such a specialised type of headgear," he said. "I get messages from people in Kazakhstan, Argentina, the Balkans, with questions on where to buy them and questions about old berets. It's overwhelming."

Mr Kolthoff began to receive more queries about where to find good quality berets, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, where there are very few available.

Because of the interest, he set up an online store selling traditional Spanish berets, and though it was never intended to be much of a money-maker, Mr Kolthoff said his sales had been substantial.

The blog's success convinced him to begin researching material for his book on berets as well, and although he could not predict when it would be finished, he estimated it would take about a year and a half.

While he has no plans to convert his online store to a physical store, he said he was frequently approached on the street by people of all ages who were interested in his berets and where to find them.

Mr Kolthoff's blog, The Beret Project, can be found at beretandboina.blogspot.com.

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