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:
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.