Baseball caps for everyone

In the latest season of the award-winning television series Succession, the main characters – Logan and Kendall Roy, billionaire father and son – often wear peaked hats. Made of cashmere, in dark colours, without logos in sight but from luxury brands, they use them to travel on private planes and go on business trips in the sun, both with “casual” and elegant clothes. Some say that the recent popularity of baseball caps is due to the success of the series and that they will increasingly be seen in luxury men’s clothing, but others had already started to notice them earlier.

In recent times, they have become increasingly popular as collectibles among teenagers – as anyone who has one at home knows – and among “fashionable moms,” as Vogue writes, citing famous actresses and models who have started wearing them. And we see many of them in the collections of luxury brands. In fact, there is something for everyone: from real baseball caps (like the famous Yankees), to more elegant caps, to those created as gadgets or personalized to express belonging to a group, a place or an idea.

Visored hats appeared with baseball in the second half of the 19th century and were used to protect players’ eyes from the sun. The first to have the idea of ​​putting their logo on the forehead were the Detroit Tigers in 1901: as Smithsonian Magazine writes, “they put their namesake animal on their cap, transforming a utilitarian parasol into a battle flag.” Later, in 1939, when games began to be televised and reached a wider audience, even teams that had not yet done so invested in their image, and by 1945, all teams’ uniforms included a cap.

In the 1960s and 1970s, peaked caps became popular among farm workers and truckers: they were known as truckers, with a mesh back and a foam front, often with the logo of the company they worked for, which used the opportunity to advertise itself. To be clear, truckers are the ones that, in the early 2000s, were taken up by Von Dutch and more recently by Goorin, becoming very popular among footballers.

It was not until the 1980s that New Era, the company that supplied, and still supplies, Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States, began selling caps with the logos to the general public and they began to be seen everywhere. In the United States, one of the first people to make sports hats popular was the protagonist of the series Magnum, P.I., which featured a private detective played by Tom Selleck.

In a very different context, an episode contributed to changing the collective perception of peaked hats: in May 1988, a photo was taken of Princess Diana wearing a hat during a polo match in the Royal Family Park. The photo became famous due to the combination of such a popular accessory with a high-end, albeit sporty, context.

From those years onwards, the wearing of baseball caps by celebrities who had nothing to do with sports became increasingly common: among presidents, as in the case of George Bush and Barack Obama, it was a way of inspiring sympathy and appearing easy in less institutional contexts.

MLB Hats

The New York Yankees cap is probably the most famous in the world and has become a symbol not only of the team, but of the entire city of New York. The Yankees logo, an N and a Y placed one above the other, originally had nothing to do with baseball: it was designed by the luxury jewelry company Tiffany&Co in 1877 for a medal of bravery dedicated to a New York police officer, John McDowell, who managed to stop a robbery in a New York beauty salon after being shot. 

The Yankees – who were still called the Highlanders at the time – began using it on their uniforms in the first decade of the 20th century. The medal is now on display at the New York Police Museum.

In the hugely popular 2009 song Empire State of Mind, rapper Jay-Z, who is a New Yorker and has been wearing Yankees caps in public and in his music videos since the 1990s, claimed credit for their success. 

New Era executive Christina McAdam told the Wall Street Journal that this claim is not unfounded and that it was people like Jay-Z and film director Spike Lee who brought the Yankees cap into the fashion world. Spike Lee had a red one made especially for him so he could match it with a red jacket. The red cap was so popular that from then on New Era began producing them in every color.

Yankees caps can now be bought anywhere between 20 and 40 doller. Online you can find them in many colors, for example on Amazon, Decathlon, Asos, eBay and of course on the New Era website. Besides the Yankees logo, the most popular are those of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but if you want, you can also find lesser-known teams with equally beautiful logos.

Over the years, Yankees caps have been re-proposed in various variations and for various occasions: for example, in 2017, MoMA, the largest contemporary art museum in New York, made one in collaboration with New Era (recognizable by the MoMA writing on one side) for a fashion exhibition. The most recent, however, is the announcement of the collaboration between New Era and the American multi-brand store Bodega: three 59Fifty tweed caps, one from the Los Angeles Dodgers, one from the Boston Red Sox and one with the label of the Scottish company Harris Tweed.

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