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?