Baseball caps get ahead with widespread fashion comeback

Selfridges, Topman and Asos among retailers reporting huge sales increase in 80s headwear, with printed styles hitting peak

Prince William has been spotted wearing one over the past month, as have the sprinter Usain Bolt and the singer Rihanna – not to mention waves of east London hipsters, adding them to their uniform of slashed-sided vest and cut-off denim shorts. The baseball cap, last this popular in the 1980s, is enjoying something of a comeback.

Selfridges has reported a near fivefold increase in sales of baseball caps compared to last summer, making them one of their fastest growing products in menswear during the past couple of months. They are also growing in popularity with women shoppers.

Topman said its baseball cap sales are up 26% year-on-year with the brand launching an additional vintage range to capitalise on the trend. Asos, the online retailer said 104% more caps were sold in June than in March, with printed styles proving to be a particular hit.

The men’s autumn/winter catwalk collections, which have been arriving into stores since mid-June, also include the baseball cap as a lead accessory. Dior Homme designer Kris Van Assche featured a baseball cap with every one of his 47 outfits that he sent down the catwalk in Paris. Other influential brands, such as Lanvin and Acne, have also included caps in their recent shows.

Elgar Johnson, fashion editor at i-D magazine says baseball caps haven’t been this on trend since the late 1980s. “Baseball caps have always had a presence but not always in fashion circles. There are so many different forms of baseball cap now. Riccardo Tisci put them down the catwalk at Givenchy recently with ears on them.”

“It’s unapologetically casual and youthful,” says Gordon Richardson, design director at Topman on the trend. A younger counterpoint to the trilby, which has been around for a few seasons now says Richardson, the baseball cap is also “heralding in the new sport-influenced trends that are starting to infiltrate the high street.”

At Selfridges, Mithun Ramanandi, menswear buyer says this trend has also developed broad appeal. “The customer for caps is so broad now – from teenagers to 30-plus professionals. Streetwear is a trend which is really saturating the menswear market across the board. That said, it’s by no means just a menswear trend – we actually sell more Boy London caps to girls than we do guys.”

John Mooney, head of menswear design at asos, added: “Headwear seems to be as big thing at the moment in men’s fashion.” The beanie hat has also been selling well for the brand. He too attributes the success of baseball caps as part of growing sales in streetwear clothing.

Carolyn Massey, head of design at Lyle & Scott, says that the baseball cap comeback was “crystallised in the current Olympic fever by Usain Bolt wearing one at first back to front, and then the right way round before his amazing 100m trail blaze this summer.” The label is selling caps as part of their current autumn range while Massey confirms they are already developing new styles for next year. She cites cult American brand New Era as an influence on the shape.

Despite increased sightings on the high street and on the catwalks, David Hellqvist, editor of Dazed Digital, said it is brands such as Supreme and Norse Projects have been “instrumental in making caps cool again”. Both labels, he explains, are “logo-based but bring another sartorial angle: the shape. Unlike a traditional baseball cap, Norse Projects and Supreme have added another panel in its construction, thus creating a whole new shape.”

This squarer style, known as the five-panel cap, because it features two side panels, two back panels and one on the top, is the bestselling style at both Asos and Topman. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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