Hats off

Do you know what the urban streetwear cap of choice is? Well, rappers wear them, athletes and artists wear them and pretty much every cool kid on the planet should know how to wear them. Presenting the wide brim baseball cap – otherwise known as the New Era 59Fifty.

Celebrating its 90th birthday, the international headwear brand originated from New York in 1920 and is best known as the official on-field cap for Major League Baseball in the US.

Inventive Capby Hayley Merrington is inspired by intricate machinery and Victorian engineering.

Cap by James Gardener. Using the words ‘new’ and ‘era’, James came up with a fusion of old and new. Clashing old head adornments of the past like Caesers head wreath with cheap cable ties.

The 59Fifty phenomenon hit European soils six years ago, and is considered a must-have fashion item in many young circles. Therefore, in recognition of its anniversary and the idea of self-expression, New Era developed the XC project.

The project invited 90 design school graduates to customise their own 59Fifty cap, which are to be part of a travelling exhibition in five cities across Europe later this year.

‘It is a project that lends itself nicely to the creative minds of tomorrow,’ says Sam Fogden of New Era. And the students did not hold back.

Shotaro cap by Shotaro Ishii focuses on the biggest co-existence of all time – between nature and human beings.

The inspiration for Dominika Lipniewska’s cap came from a fascination with faces and characters, especially in crowded spaces. 

Each designer received a box with a blank canvas material cap, along with Posca, Montana and Sharpies art supplies. The students were not limited to the tools provided and showed off their creative flair, developing some wild and unusual pieces of headwear.

New Era’s creative director, Astri Thomas-Saunders, the famous milliner Piers Atkinson and two other creative professionals chose their favourite three hats out of the 90 pieces of art. From this shortlist, a winner was chosen to receive a £10,000 bursary towards their future career.

Craig Green’s winning design refers to the role of the male in Western society and is influenced by American and English culture, including class, money, DIY, patriotism and hunting. Copper was used to show English currency and class, while the use of suede brings in the nature element, along with wood, in reference to hunting.

London’s Central St Martins graduate Craig Green’s ‘mask of masculinity’ picked up the prize money. Green hopes to start his own fashion and millenary label following his MA in Fashion, which he starts this month.

All 90 designs will be showcased in London’s Dray Walk Gallery from 4-6 November and presented in a collectors book available to associates.

Janosch Mallwitz created a personal hat that has been a constant companion. The structure came from the original baseball closing system.

New Era XC exhibitions held:

4-6 November at Dray Walk Gallery, London E1

11-13 November at Circle Culture Gallery, Berlin, Germany

18-21 November at Spazi Originale, Milan, Italy

25-27 November at Angels, Barcelona, Spain

2-4 December at Espace Vertbois, Paris, France

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.