The hard-felt bowler was first introduced in the 19th century by William Coke, a Norfolk landowner, as a way of offering a halfway option between the formal top hat of the upper classes and the more casual felt headgear worn by the lower middle classes.
It is associated with London city gents, and has a definite English identity to it, being named last year in a poll to find the top English icons. It was also traditionally worn by members of the Orange Order in Northern Ireland during their July 12 annual parades, although this tradition has since declined.
Famous bowler wearers include British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and Charlie Chaplin.
Comedy duo Laurel and Hardy famously wore bowlers, while Alex and the Droogs in the film A Clockwork Orange gave the hat a more sinister edge.
Patrick MacNee in The Avengers and Mr Benn were also two fictional bowler hat-wearing characters.