THINK of a flat cap and a gruff Yorkshire farmer with a sheepdog at his heels is likely to spring to mind.

But thanks to style icons like David Beckham, Madonna and Gwen Stefani, the headwear synonymous with northern working men has undergone a fashion renaissance. These days flat caps are as likely to be worn in uptown New York or Californian hip-hop clubs as in Yorkshire.

Rhian Kempadoo-Millar started wearing flat caps as a child, inspired by her father's flamboyant look, and now she's putting her own funky twist on the design classic. Her range of flat caps, made in Yorkshire, are worn by high-profile clients, from the Earl of Harewood to actor Idris Elba.

Now the designer and mum-of-two has teamed up with 'Mr Yorkshire', businessman Keith Madeley, to produce a flat cap made from limited edition 'Yorkshire cloth'. Bradford textile company Joseph H Clissold has designed and produced the new worsted cloth to raise the profile of the region’s textile industry. With the word 'Yorkshire' in the pinstripe pattern, it is used for made-to-measure suits, and Rhian is launching a cap made from the fabric too. "I'm calling it Native New Yorkshire," she smiles.

It's the latest chapter in the extraordinary success of Rhian's business, Kempadoo Millar, which was inspired by a trip to New York four years ago.

"My dad was Scottish Jamaican and a golfer, he was a sharp, stylish dresser and was always in brightly-coloured flat caps," says Rhian. "I grew up wearing them too but they were men's caps, as there weren't any designed for women.

"When I went to New York to visit a friend very other man was wearing a flat cap. They were very much in vogue for the trendy New Yorker. People kept coming up to me saying they liked my cap, asking where I got it. I told them: 'It's a Yorkshire flat cap'. I realised that everyone was wearing them, but there were no feminine designs."

The seeds were sewn for a project to try and make a flat cap entirely in Yorkshire. "A lot of Yorkshire tweed isn't 100per cent Yorkshire wool, and some manufacturing is done in China. But to me, the process of how something is made is more important than the end product," says Rhian. "Traceability is increasingly important to the consumer, there's been a huge shift in recent years with the Government and people like Mary Portas raising the profile of British manufacturing. The story behind the process is everything to me - it's like eating soup your mum has made, with love."

Rhian trained in theatre costume design and worked for a computer games company in London before moving to Yorkshire. She did a millinery course at Leeds College of Art. "My family live in Trinidad and I'd always made head-dresses inspired by carnivals out there," says Rhian. "I was making flamboyant Lady Ga Ga-style hats, but one of my college modules was to make a hat from a flat pattern design. I chose a flat cap.

"I'd always had an interest in textiles, and when I looked into flat cap manufacturing I discovered it had shifted overseas. So I set myself a challenge to make one entirely in Yorkshire."

Spreading out a map of Yorkshire, Rhian drew a circle around a 30-mile radius of Yorkshire, leading her to 130-year-old Bradford cloth merchant Bateman Ogden, which supplies textiles from fleeces of Yorkshire-reared sheep to Savile Row. Leeds silk importing company James Hare and Castleford quality headwear firm Lawrence and Foster also became part of the process and, heading out a little wider than her initial circle, Rhian took on a sample maker in Hull.

Initially, Rhian created 25 samples which were all snapped up. Kempadoo Millar hats offer a vibrant twist to the traditional Yorkshire flat cap, and a feminine touch with details such as colourful ribbon ties. Rhian - whose first range was called Trinidales, in tribute to her family heritage and the Yorkshire Dales - blends Yorkshire tweeds with colourful silk and stylish touches like bows and bright under-peaks. She's working on a new design with faux fur, and plans to introduce children's caps.

Her current range includes pink and blue herringbone luxury Yorkshire tweed, superfine wool retro check, and baker boy caps, made from Abraham Moon tweeds, inspired by period drama Peaky Blinders, about a 1920s gangster family who wore distinctive caps. "Peaky Blinders came along at just the right time. Demand for baker boy-style caps went through the roof, I've had a lot of enquiries from America on the back of it," says Rhian, who works from a studio in Headingley.

She puts the lasting appeal of the flat cap down to its design and versatility. "It has that no-nonsense factor synonymous with Yorkshire," she says. "I'm from Newcastle and wasn't sure how to take Yorkshire people at first, but I love how they tell it as it is. In business it's great working with people who are straightforward and honest.

"There's a reason why certain styles endure - flat caps can be worn with jeans or a suit, they go 'from the dog walk to the catwalk'. You see flat caps at the high end - Burberry had their models wearing them at London Fashion Week last year and when I was in New York at a computer games event half the young dudes were wearing them.

"I wanted to design something that could be worn by a farmer in Yorkshire or the hip-hop guys my kids like."

Ethical fashion is at the heart of Rhian's business. The manufacturing process can be traced through Yorkshire, from raw materials to suppliers, production and stockists.

"Manufacturing is about people, as well as product. Luxury is nothing without the soul and the story behind it," she says. "The suppliers I work with have all operated in Yorkshire for generations, they're happy working environments.

"I'm proud to have an authentic Yorkshire product, made entirely in Yorkshire. The way Yorkshire wool weathers is incredible, it's very sturdy which is all to do with how the sheep graze. The fabric shapes each cap to each head."

Rhian's caps have been modelled at high-profile events in Yorkshire, including Le Tweed, the Tour de France Grand Depart fashion show, where the Earl of Harewood, David Lascelles wore a design with yellow stripes.

They have also been worn by celebrities including Jordan from hip-hop act Rizzle Kicks and actor Idris Elba, star of The Wire, Luther and hit movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, who recently ordered four. "My kids said: 'Mum, even Nelson Mandela wears your hats!' It doesn't get better than that," laughs Rhian.

* For more about Kempadoo Millar visit