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Hutmacherin Kathi.
Hutmacherin Kathi.

Heart and hand that is
Kathi Bittner's motto.



Junior boss Kathi Bittner brings a breath of fresh air to the traditional Bad Ischl millinery business with verve and ingenuity. She hit the bull's eye with her colourful summer hat collection.

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Hutmacherin Kathi Bittner und Ihre Mutter Ursula.


Mum Ursula and daughter Kathi are already generations five and six in the traditional Bittner house. The passion for hats seems to be inherited here.

We can't reinvent a hat, but there are so many shapes, colours and materials that you never run out of ideas."
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Die Hutmacherin näht die Masche auf den Hut

The hat manufactory

Among the sewing machines, irons and hat moulds, there was once a cradle in the workshop of the Bittner hat manufactory at Schutzenbichl in Bad Ischl, with a little blue-eyed girl curiously watching the goings-on around her. It was Kathi Bittner, today's junior manager of the traditional business in the imperial town. "I was really in the thick of things from an early age," Kathi smiles, "but I never had the obligation imposed on me by my parents to continue running the business one day." That came quite naturally.

After studying business administration and completing an apprenticeship as a milliner, she joined her parents' business. "Today, I have one of the most beautiful jobs you can imagine," enthuses the junior manager. Kathi can contribute her ideas without restraint - and she has many: The most recent was a straw hat collection limited to 100 pieces, which established a fresh, young line in the house's assortment. "Of course, Bittner stands for traditional hats from the Salzkammergut, and we want to keep it that way."

Kathi Bittner collection

With the Kathi Bittner selection, I want to achieve that we also become an address for younger hat wearers," she explains. For this heartfelt project called Floral-Genial, the young milliner is working with Renata Samojedna from Lower Austria, a grand master of the art of embroidery, who makes the hat bands using traditional techniques. "We can't reinvent a hat, but there are so many shapes, colours and materials that you never run out of ideas," says Kathi. That's why it was also possible to ensure that no two hats in the summer straw collection are alike.

Today I have one of the most beautiful professions you can imagine.
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Geschäft Bittner in Bad Ischl.

With a creative spirit

The Bittner hat factory in Bad Ischl has been around since 1862, and Kathi is the sixth generation to lend a hand here. Of course, tradition weighs heavily, and a young, creative spirit is quite challenged to lay new tracks in an old, tried and tested track.

But she sees it more as an attraction: "There are quite a few milliners who are on a very modern track. I don't want that, because I want to continue what I was given here - but you have to carry this tradition into the future. I want to combine it in such a way that young people also say that a hat simply belongs." She seems to be on the right track with her straw hats, also because they are unique and therefore exclusive. And because with their colourful, embroidered ribbons they prove that real handicraft is appreciated again.

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Hutmacherin Kathi Bittern.

TEXT: Wolfgang Maria Gran, PHOTOS: Sebastian Gabriel

Text & photos have been published in Servus Salzkammergut Magazin 2021.

And what goes with the hat?

Dirndl or leather trousers from
Trachten Schauer, 4820 Bad Ischl,
Pfarrgasse4, +43 6132 238 59 15,

Traditional shoes from
Shoe house Panzl, 4820 Bad Ischl,
Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Straße 3-5,
+43 660 153 6132

Traditional costume jewellery from the
craft workshops of Ischl
, which runs through Auböckplatz,
Kreuzplatz and the Kurpark.