I first noticed the phenomenon of the sticker left intentionally on the baseball cap a few years ago when I was living in Seattle and visiting New York. It may have been going on longer than that but like many things, I could not unsee that which I had seen and I noticed it with increasing frequency once i had actually moved back to New York.

The first couple of times I thought it was done unintentionally — perhaps I should explain better. Baseball caps for major sporting teams are almost all made by the same company — New Era (59Fifty.) They come with round stickers on them with size information and in recent years, a supplementary sticker has been added with more information about the hat and the company.

When I was in high school there was a certain way that people wore baseball hats. Generally speaking, the more beat up a hat looked, the better it looked.

Cheaper hats were made with a sort of fine white plastic mesh on the underside — to keep ones head cool and to keep the hat crisp and firm en route to the store, presumably. It would never do for wearing purposes, however — the hats had to be soft, the brims as curved as could be without being fully folded in half like a slice of vegan pizza.

My friends would all cut the plastic lining from the inside of their hats and sometimes hats were washed in the washing machine a few times before the first wearing just to soften it.

The popular way to wear hats is just a bit different now. If I were to describe the look in simple terms, I would say it is the look of the hat as it sits on the store shelf — brim unbent, sticker still on it — only the price tag has been removed. A fashion statement, it seems.

Anthony Lucero of San Francisco said he is grateful that New Era has embraced hip-hop style. He also said he won’t be ditching the sticker anytime soon. “A lot of people have come to know me for my hats and the size 7 1/4 sticker,” said the 25-year-old father of two boys. “I leave the sticker on to let people know it’s authentic New Era. And also to show that it’s fresh and new.”

Why the need to show people that you have a genuine Mets baseball cap — as opposed to a fake one? Does wearing a cap with the stickers somehow prove your fealty to the team — or a dedication to showing just how much money you spend?

T.J. Marsh, of Huf in San Francisco, said the fashion magazine Complex and the Web site Hypebeast have featured negative stories about the gold sticker. Some call the trend tacky; others say the sticker lacks originality and purpose. “It’s a fashion statement now,” Marsh said. “But it’s going away because it has no real meaning. Who cares what your head size is?”

A question I have to ask myself every time I see the flat brim with the giant stickers resting on top of it. Why keep the world informed of your head size — or perhaps just the size of your ego?


  1. I don’t understand this crazy movement, either, Gordon. Stickers on hats? Price tags left on clothes? Ridiculous!

    I, too, wash my hats when I buy them. I use the bathtub and then I let the hat “drip dry” in the proper form with the brim of the hat *curved* as it should be. It’s easier to get a curve these days because the brims are plastic and hold memory better than cardboard of the olden days.

    In fact, when I was younger and playing baseball, the way to get the perfect curve for your hat with a cardboard brim was to put a baseball under the brim, then bend the brim down gently around the ball — too much of a bend and you’d break the cardboard and have a really ugly looking thing — and secure it all with rubber bands for a few days. When you were done, the hat was in perfect, wearing, position! Getting it wet in the rain only helped it all to retain its shape.

    1. I wonder what’s next — holding a sign saying “I spent $100 on my hat!”

      Great curving technique! I sometimes put away a hat by tucking the brim into the hat. When there’s a band on the back it’s easier, of course.

  2. I think this is a reprisal of a ‘fad’ that was around in the 90’s. Overcoats with labels sewn onto a sleeve, presumably to be removed after purchase. Maybe the label should have read, ‘remove before wearing’. Ok, so you’re delighted at the percentage of cashmere you can afford but that’s it, YOU’RE delighted. I don’t care.

  3. Its because gang members want other members to know their clothing is fresh and new, so they keep tags on things and stickers on hats to show they’re not poor, they can afford new things

  4. …I feel an arrogant tone in ur opinion…do you feel that ur better because u abuse ur hats b4 u wear them?..the fact that u prefer to wear anything that looks worn out boggles me..but I wont write a whole blog entry (with quotes) on it..furthermore, how old are you?…most likely the same age as your parents when they talked down on the things you thought were “cool” when u were growing up…Im just going to say this..you wrote this like a year ago and got only 2 “co-signers” which means nobody cares that you dont care about the sticker(s) on our hats

    1. Sorry if the tone seems arrogant. I definitely don’t feel better… just less… fresh off the shelf? I don’t keep price tags on my other clothing, or leave the other stickers that come on other things I buy. I guess it’s just a matter of taste. I’m thirty-four at this point.

          1. Don’t rush it. I’m already in Grandma age. I had a hard time accepting the revered title of Mother, much less Grandmother… 🙂

  5. I heard somewhere that the reason people left clothing tags on was because they’d shoplifted the clothes, so the tags hadn’t been removed at the till, and they wanted to show off that they’d got away with stealing their clothes. Anyone else heard this before?

    1. That is an interesting idea. I suppose the police wouldn’t be able to arrest someone based on price tag and yet the thief would still get the beloved and cherished “street cred” as it were.

  6. I’m a 31 year old father of two boys, happily married to my wife of 10 years. I never was a thug or in a gang, honestly have never gotten in trouble at all. I don’t support sports teams but I do buy a lot of new era comic hats. I leave the stickers on to preserve the new look of the hat because I am a collector (not just of hats) and as such have a bit of OCD when it comes to things looking mint. I do wear these hats but go to great lengths to keep them looking perfect. When I buy things for collections I do remove the price tag but neve any other stickers. My point is this I’m not a gangster, I don’t support rap music these days cause its just crap. I don’t follow fashion trends and I’m not out to piss people off or cause trouble because of how I choose to wear an article of clothing. I do it cause I want to. If anyone has a problem with it than they need to realize that there are far more important thing in this world to worry about than a little gold sticker. If anyone has any knowledge of new era hats, then they would know that the company actually places these stickers in specific places on the hat to keep it out of the way of the graphics that are sometimes printed on the top or bottom of the bill. It’s done on purpose so you can leave them on. Basicly what it all boils down to is, If you don’t like it don’t look at it.

    1. Very interesting thoughts, sir. I actually am one hundred percent behind leaving the stickers on the comic book hats because I am a fan of comics as well. I don’t think I could wear it, however. I am intrigued in the notion of them leaving them on in a specific place as I thought it was always in the same place. I thank you for these words of wisdom!

  7. What people need to realize is that there is a difference between what the trend was during a time, and what the fad was during a time. Usually we all recall the stupid fads from the past, like plaid checkered golf pants from the late 70’s, rather than the trends of that time, which evolved over the coming decades. This, without a doubt, is a fad, & I believe the word “fad” stands for the phrase “foolishly had”. As a self-proclaimed expert in the field of being able to sniff out bullshit in all walks of life, I am proud to report that this could go down as one of the most delusional failures in trying to capture the concept of “cool” in the entire history of fashion. It makes me sad, really, for what I call “Generation Sellout”(basically anyone born between 1986 and 2000), because it’s not their fault AT ALL. This generation’s entertainment and fashion icons lack artistic credibility….they are all sponsored brands today, which is not a fresh voice, but a voice that has been purchased by the paying boss. These poor kids have no real independent leaders to look up to anymore. Everyone is branded, and this generation is pathetically following suit, like corporate sheep.

    When I was growing up Sally Struthers was the only celebrity on a commercial in the US, and only after her career was deemed over(which was the only tolerated reason for a celebrity doing a commercial & not have it compromise their artistic voice)…..now Jay-Z & Beyonce are the entertainment icons for this young generation to look up to, and they are two of the biggest money grubbing corporate shills in the history of the industry. This young generation’s leaders are sellouts who’s artistic words can be bought and sold at the drop of a hat. Their artists lack integrity and credibility. Whether it be flogging a perfume, a new clothing line at Macy’s, or whatever corporate branding they can saddle themselves with….Today, the role model voices for this youth are store bought “fresh”, and tragically, that’s exactly how these kids like it, only because they know nothing else.

    So it makes perfect metaphorical sense and a fitting symbol of their “Cash Money” sellout nature to walk around with price tags and Nascar-like corporate promotion stickers on all their attire. It’s such a desperate cry for help, and I pray that the next generation can put them out of their lame misery. Again, not their fault….it’s all they’ve ever known. They have had corporate sponsorship shoved down their generation’s collective throat by cheezy Miley Cyrus-type “artists” since they were in middle school at the latest. So they have had no solid rebellious role models like generations before had…..they are just grasping at straws adding the only flavor they were nurtured to hone….tacky self-promotional Nascar-like stickers with a price tag attached.

    Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to hold a candlelight vigil for all the brims being “swagged” that will never evolve to the shape of there true nature…and I’ll also be protesting the stupid sticker look by wearing an Old Navy t-shirt with the clear vertical XL sticker still on it. So tragic. It’s a sad time for baseball hats….and for a lost & clueless youth of today just crying out for help.

    Next they’ll be asking the guy at the Lids register to leave on the white magnetic security rectangle, or maybe the brims will start to be bent upward to look like smiley faces. Seriously, where are we going with this people? Backwards. You swag-starved kiddies are all regressing fashion, and going f**king backwards.

    [Comment edited for language content by David W. Boles]

  8. It’s done by so called “wannabe” gangsters (note the English spelling rather than that used by those who wear the clothing being referred too) including the plastic hook from the sales rack, most likely in order to appear to their dimwitted peer group as if the item has been stolen from the retailer rather than actually purchased…….
    QED, being stupid and poorly educated these “people” do not realise that it simply marks them out as such, as in nature all animals have markings to identify themselves to others, and this species of homo sapiens is no different….. just a few genetic links lower down the evolutionary scale.

      1. It’s like the arsonist who returns to the scene of the fire; the serial killer who keeps the newspaper clippings delineating the stories he perpetrated; the ‘offender’ is almost always looking for attention albeit negative. It’s a sad state to be in, to be sure.

        1. Quite right, LIllian. I find it funny that this entry has drawn so many comments in the last two years. Most articles have comments but they eventually peter out… this one keeps drawing comments.

  9. Do you guys feel better casting wide generalizations of the motives of keeping the stickers on the brim? Who gives to #2’s if they guy leaves the size sticker on or not. It’s already been said many times that it’s to preserve the “new” feel of the hat but attributing idiotic reasoning like “it’s to show they stole it” is not only ridiculous but also nonsensical. When you purchase a new New Era cap, they don’t remove the sticker in the first place so how can that make any sense. Of course it’s a fad, like the cigarette box in the sleeves or the black leather jacket Grease/Fame look. They’re not chilling on ur lawn so get off ur soap box, u cantankerous old geezers.

    1. Thank you for the voice of reason. I am a curious sort so when I see something that seems out of the ordinary to me, I wonder about it and what causes it. I’m open to any explanation as you can see above. So… should all stickers be left on because the store doesn’t remove them? Just want to be clear on what you are writing.

    2. The New Feel? Its just stupid. Whenever I see someone wearing a cap with a sticker and I ask why they do it, ”because the sticker is supposed to be on”. Thats not reasoning, thats doing what other people do without any reason, and that is, in my opinion, the most stupid thing you can do. Doing stuff without questioning why. If you buy a dress shirt, you remove the freaking plastic thing under the collar, you don’t leave it. When you buy a shirt, which also sometimes have stickers with sizes on them, you remove it! Same principle. Caps with stickers are just plain stupid. And no, I’m no old geezer (19). Just an advocate against stupidity like this.

  10. Just letting you know, the reason people leave the stickers on their hats is because the hats are expensive and if someone had the need to take their hat off and their hands were dirty, they would dirty the hat. With this new style of hats you cant wash them very often; so you have to keep them clean. Consequently, people use the stickers as a place to grab the hat without getting it dirty…… then everyone started doing it and it turned into a meaningless fad. These hats cost over 40 dollars where as a curved hat cost maybe ten dollars tops. With that much of a price increase, no wonder why people want to keep them clean like they just pulled it of the shelf.

  11. City kids listen to mainstream hiphop music, follow the trends. Ever since i started wearing fitteds, the stickers been left on. Its not so much a baseball cap anymore, its a fashion accessory. I like the look, all my fitteds still have the stickers. Born and raised in Brooklyn, a fitted without a sticker is strange. for baseball fans, player, whatever, the bend is cool, for a guy from Brooklyn, the sticker stays on. Aint a big deal man. Though the supplementary sticker I dont like.

  12. I think this trend stems from post championship celebrations on the ball field, gridiron, ice, or basketball court. You see these athletes, who just accomplished something great, getting a brand new championship hat and t-shirt. I think it’s this image of a champion that people are trying to emulate.

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