Monday, March 3, 2014

New Era's Blunderful "Heritage Series"

At the end of February, New Era released the first wave of their highly-anticipated "Herritage Series". The first part of the series is based on the year 1934, which is the year that New Era made their debut in the on-field cap market that they would later dominate and then monopolize. The Heritage Series will be released in several parts over the course of the year, with each collection focusing on a certain year.

At first glance, it would appear that New Era had created the vintage on-field cap reproductions that us hardcore cap fanatics have been dreaming of. For the price of $75, they feature melton wool with leather sweatbands. They use the "19Twenty" pattern as opposed to the 5950. The description states that the Heritage Series is based on key moments during the course of their relationship with MLB. They are also shipped in special box that is a replica of the boxes that on-field caps were shipped in. So these caps are replicas of on-field caps, right? Well, they are, but they aren't. I'll explain.

There are three major flaws. I'll start with the most obvious, which is the fact that the damn New Era flag logo is on the side of these caps. At least they don't have the "battrerman" logo. Second would be six-stitch visors, as opposed to eight. Even back then, New Era ALWAYS used eight stitches on on-field caps.

Last but certainly not least, THE CAPS ARE MADE IN CHINA!!! All of the advertisements for the Heritage Series speak of New Era's rich history of craftsmanship. Back in 1934 (and even up to five years ago) it sure as Hell wasn't Chinese sweatshop labor. USA labor is the foundation that New Era built itself on, and these caps seem to falsely advertise "American Pride".

I took to New Era's Facebook page just to see if I'd get a reaction or comment. I wrote:

"As a loyal New Era customer since 1995, I must say how extremely disappointed I am that the new "Heritage Collection" is being produced in China, especially when New Era has the money and resources to have them made here in the USA. You guys could easily afford to bring more jobs back here. Also, get rid of the flag logos on the side! The originals you are trying to reproduce obviously never had them. If you're going to make faithful reproductions of vintage on-field caps, just do it right!"

They wrote back:

"Hey Paul - We appreciate the feedback and will pass this on to our team. We design a lot of our headwear in Buffalo, NY and produce it in various locations around the world. However, the Heritage Series is not intended to be a replica of past on-field caps, but rather a fashion-play and homage to New Era’s on-field legacy in baseball. We hope you understand."

So basically, they are not on-field replicas, but take away the flag and they are... I don't get it. I encourage anyone reading this blog to contact New Era, whether by email, phone, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, and let them know how badly they dropped the ball on this one! Sometimes a few comments from customers on a social networking page can make changes. I've seen it done before.

You can view pictures, official info, and shop for the Heritage Series at New Era's website. If those pictures of the collection don't make you angry and frustrated as an on-field cap enthusiast, nothing will!

Feel free to speak your mind at New Era's Facebook page! Write on their timeline or join the conversation going happening on my post.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Are Diamond Era Caps The Way of The Future?


In 2013, New Era introduced a new cap material that they've dubbed "Diamond Era" due to the diamond-shaped pattern in the fabric, which is made of 100% polyester. These 5950 fitted caps have replaced the 3930 stretch-fit caps for both spring training and regular season batting practice. Players had long complained about the 3930s, which have a material that has been described by players as feeling like a "wet towel" once it starts to absorb sweat. They made their debut at the 2013 MLB Spring Training. Several teams also wore them in a few regular season games. Diamond Era caps are made in China, as opposed to normal on-field caps which are made in the USA. However, the patriotic caps made to be worn for the 4th of July were made in the USA (with "imported fabric" according to the tag).


I purchased my first Diamond Era caps a few months back after dragging my feet for most of the 2013 baseball season. I currently own three; a Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and an Oakland A's worn in spring training by their bullpen catcher. I've read reviews and discussed these caps with my fellow cap aficionados, and concluded that these caps are plagued with the same problems that affect Chinese-made caps; an uncomfortable fit, stiff, hard-to-bend visors and bulbous crowns. I especially had issues with my Giants DE cap, which has an awkwardly-shaped crown and the visor creased in three places when I tried to curve it. The material is very thin and flimsy. It's almost paper thin. In fact, I though that it might tear if I bent the visor. Luckily it didn't. The material does its job, though. I wore the caps while exercising, and noticed that it kept my head cooler and reduced sweating. Also, if there was a breeze, it went right through the cap. However, I learned that these are not to be worn in cold weather. They will not keep your head warm as the cold air goes right through it. In my opinion, DE caps are great for hot weather and exercise but that's it.

DE caps have started showing up in "custom" colors, and will be replacing Minor League 3930 stretch-fit batting practice caps this upcoming season. Rumor has it that several MLB teams will be replacing some of their regular on-field caps for DE caps this upcoming season, and some teams will be wearing DE caps in regular season games on a more regular basis. There has even been some talk of DE caps becoming the standard on-field caps and replacing the traditional style. Nothing official has been announced yet, but only time will tell. What is your opinion? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Selling an Alfonso Soriano Game Used Cubs Cap

I am selling an Alfonso Soriano game used Chicago Cubs cap on eBay. I am a bit reluctant to do so, but there are six days during the Holiday season that my work is closed that I don't get paid for them. In other words, I really need the dough.

I acquired the cap through a person that got it at the Cubs Convention in 2012. It has no authentication but shows use. I am willing to put my reputation on the line and say that Soriano used it at one time or another. Soriano's main 2011 gamer had distinct sweat stains so I doubt this one is it. My best guess is that it's from spring training 2011, since the Cubs wear their standard uniforms in spring training games. Either that or it's a backup or secondary cap.

Get it for yourself or for the Cubs fan or Soriano fan in your life. Just in time for the Holidays! Check out the auction HERE!!!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Era Repairing Caps Again?

Sorry for the lack of updates, school and work have kept me busy.

A website called The World's Best Ever posted some recent pictures of the New Era factory. In a few pictures, some vintage New Era caps (Yankees, Indians, etc.) are shown stripped apart. When I asked the website about the caps shown in the photos, the one-sentence answer that I got was "They're being reconstructed". I don't know whether they belong to the company or whether they were being repaired for someone. Regardles, they're definitley being repaired.

If any of you want to call New Era and ask about doing repairs, go for it and let me know what happens. Maybe mention the caps in the photos and why they're being repaired? I'd be interested in knowing what that is about. I bet they'll mention that they don't do repairs, and will ask you if you heard about it from "some guy from California with a blog" (that would be yours truly). That's what they've said to a few people I know that have called in the past couple of years. The article also mentions a "Heritage Collection". Maybe New Era is going to make more accurate reproductions of vintage caps? Hey, a guy can dream...

HERE is the link to the factory photos, which are interesting even without the vintage caps.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ebbets Field Flannels Brings Back Single-Piece Custom Caps


Since I've been writing heavily about Ebbets Field Flannels lately, I figured that I should mention that EFF recently brought back the option to order a single custom-made cap, for the price of $99. If there's an obscure retro team that you are dying to have a cap of and you're willing to pay the price, this is your chance. There are several styles and variations to chose from. Just go to Ebbets.com/category/Custom_Caps and scroll to the bottom for more details.

I had a 1962 San Jose Bees cap made, and it turned out exactly the way I wanted. I was extremely happy and I plan on having more custom caps made in the future. Take note that unless it's a cap Ebbets has made before or they already have research done on the logo, you may have to provide them with pictures and logo artwork of the cap that you want made.

  
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview with Jerry Cohen of Ebbets Field Flannels


For the past 25 years, Ebbets Field Flannels has been bringing us high-quality retro sports apparel and simultaneously preserving the legacies and stories of obscure teams and leagues of the past that would have otherwise been forgotten. Their specialty is hand-made reproductions of vintage flannel baseball jerseys, or "shirts" as they were known back in the day. Ebbets Field Flannels also produces a wide variety of reproductions of vintage baseball caps, made with high-quality 100% wool with goat hair buckram, satin taping and undervisors, and on their 8-panel caps; genuine leather sweatbands. You can view what they have to offer offer at Ebbets.com.

Q. For those of us that don't know or don't remember, what were some of the first caps EFF first produced?

A. I think the first two caps we did were from the old Pacific Coast League, the San Francisco Seals and Seattle Rainiers.

Q. What are some of the most popular/highest selling EFF caps of all time?

A. 1955 S. F. Seals, New York Knights, 1940 S.F. Seals. Those never seem to go out of style.


Q. How do you decide which caps to produce each time? 

A. It is important to have a good mix of colors (difficult to market new hats if seven out of eight are navy blue, for example). Then I try to have a good mix of regions or themes, say, a couple of Negro leagues, some PCL, some Cuban, etc. We find this usually works better than coming out with hats that are all the same theme.


 Q. How much research is involved in making sure the caps are as accurate-looking as possible?

      A. The devil is in the details, obviously, so the research is key. To us, a the whole hat has to be historic – not just the emblem – so we try to make sure things like visor style, whether it was a felt or embroidered emblem, etc. are all accurate. Of course, most research is photographic, and black and white at that, so we have to be very careful. It is quite surprising to me when I see competitors’ so-called vintage hats out there that are so fundamentally different from the original hat it is supposed to be emulating, but I guess that’s what makes us different.


Q. After not making caps with leather sweatbands in quite some time, why did you decide to use leather sweatbands on the new 8-panel caps?

A.      We wanted to make the 8-panel caps distinct from the 6-panel ones, and we located a leather supplier who made decent leather bands. There is a certain segment of our customer base from way back who remember the leather bands fondly, and this is a way to at least make some of our hats available with leather. 


Q. Using green satin under the visor is a great touch. It makes the caps look very classy and helps separate EFF from the competition. Satin "undervisors" weren't found on every cap back in the old days, so why did you decide to go with them for every cap? (Not complaining by any means, just curious)

A.      It is precisely because they were not usually done in satin that we adapted it as one of our “trademarks”. The idea came from an original 1950s Seattle Rainiers cap that I had in my possession. It had this beautiful satin undervisor and satin taping between the panels and I thought it was the most gorgeous cap I had ever seen. It gives the Ebbets caps a distinctive flavor. 



Q. EFF was once part of a joint venture with Roman Pro and Mitchell & Ness (caps were made with the EFF cap pattern, Roman Pro did the embroidery, and sold under the Mitchell & Ness name). Old-style 7-stitch visors were used. These were easily the best reproductions of old MLB caps ever made. What led to this and when did it come about? Why and when did it end?

A. The short version is this project was initiated by us. We did the research and the development, but because M&N already had an MLB license it was decided to do it as a joint venture with them. One  issue is that shortly after launching this collection Roman Pro was sold to idiots who did not believe there was a future in making high-quality vintage baseball caps, so the supply chain was threatened anyway. We tried to bring on another supplier but it was an exercise in futility. Needless to say the new owners of Roman Pro ran it into the ground in short order.  This was obviously very disappointing to us, because of all the work we put in. That’s life. It’s amazing how many people recall those hats though.


  Q. What does the future of EFF look like?

A. It looks very bright! Being stubborn, making things authentically in the U.S. for all these years means that finally the market has come around to us. We haven’t done anything differently, except perhaps open up the design process a bit so that we can collaborate with other brands on headwear collections. The last two years have been among the most rewarding for us in all the years we have been in business, and we are looking at record growth continuing. EFF is now a worldwide apparel brand.

Q. Why do you think that MLB has not given you permission to make any MLB apparel?

A. As you probably have guessed, after 25 years this we get a little tired of this question. Suffice it to say that it is na├»ve to believe that licenses go to whomever produces the best quality or most accurate historical reproduction hat. Beyond that you would really need to ask MLB why they won’t give us a vintage hat license. That’s simply not something I spend a lot of my time worrying about anymore.