Differences Between Derby, NY-made and Miami, FL-made New Era Caps - Old vs. New "Made In USA"
New Era shut down their long-time US factory in Derby, NY in June of 2019. Since MLB requires the actual caps that the players wear on the field to be at least "assembled" in the US, New Era now hires contractors in the Miami, FL area (Hialeah) to assemble MLB team issued caps. These caps are not made for retail, but it's possible to acquire MLB team issued caps directly from teams via "Authentics" programs, MLB Auctions, and fan fest sales. It also appears that occasionally, some actually do make it out to retail.
In this post we will examine the differences between New Era caps made at the now-closed Derby, NY plant vs. the caps "assembled" in Hialeah, FL. Team-issued 2020 San Diego Padres caps will be used for most of the comparison photos (yes, the Derby plant was able to make some before it closed). They quite possibly may have been the very last caps ever made there.
A 2020 San Diego Padres cap made in Derby, NY.
Many were disappointed to learn that the caps assembled in Hialeah do not resemble the ones made in Derby. Most of Derby's cap-making equipment was sold off in auctions (see HERE and HERE). Why? They simply didn't need it. Almost all of the cap components are constructed overseas and then sent to Hialeah. This includes the visors and crowns. The sweatbands and tags are most likely made and prepared overseas as well. Once the parts arrive in Hialeah, the contractors simply stitch the crown, visor, and sweatband together to make a whole cap. This is the bare minimum to be able to label the finished product as "Made in USA". How this actually qualifies as "Made in USA" is a mystery to me, but it has been sanctioned by Major League Baseball.
In the photo below, you can see the difference in crown shape. The Derby-made caps are taller and narrow, while the Hialeah-made caps are more squat, being shorter and wider. The front panels of a Derby-made cap are soft, while Florida-made caps are more stiff like the caps made overseas. Caps made in Hialeah, FL also tend to fit slightly smaller.
You can also see the difference between the embroidery on the 2020 San Diego Padres caps made at Derby vs. Hialeah in the photos below. The Derby-made caps have rounded embroidery, whereas the Hialeah-made embroidery pops straight out much further than the Derby-made cap, just like the ones made overseas.
The dead giveaway that the visors are not assembled in Hialeah is due to some caps being made with parts from Bangladesh. How do I know they're from Bangladesh? Bangladesh-made caps have become known to New Era cap collectors as the lowest-quality caps that New Era manufactures. They feature even more bulbous, rock-hard crowns compared to those made in China. The other sign of a made in Bangladesh cap is the visor; the eight rows of visor stitching are much closer together than New Era caps made elsewhere. It's very easy to see how drastic the difference is. These have shown up on caps made in Hialeah. Do you really believe that New Era would have both types of visor stitching machines at their plant?
Another difference regarding visors is the size. Though the difference is only slight, the visors showing up on Hialeah-made caps are slightly smaller, just like the ones made overseas. In the photo below, I evenly placed the bottoms of the two caps together and you can see the slight extra length of the Derby-made cap under the Hialeah-made cap. According to measurements I took, a Derby-made visor is 7 1/2" across, whereas Bangladesh/Hialeah is 7 3/8", and China (most likely)/Hialeah is 7 1/4".
The fabric of the caps are also different. If you look in the photo below, you can see that the lines of the polyester frabric are larger on the Florida-made cap to the right. Both fabrics also have a different texture. Look at the cheap caps available at your local gas station. Are the kitted lines larger or smaller?
If you can't tell a Derby-made cap and Hialeah-made cap apart from the outside, they can simply be identified by checking behind the sweatband. There is a while strip around the inside with sizes stamped on it. This strip helps measure the size when the cap is being assembled. Derby-made caps have a solid white band with blue ink from 2007 until the 2019 closure. All Hialeah-made caps that I have handled have a crosshatching white band with brown ink.
In conclusion; the sad fact is that there really isn't a whole lot of "Made in USA" going on at New Era's Hialeah, FL plant. This was all done so that New Era could save a few bucks by no longer owning their own plant and hiring contractors to do the bare minimum for them. According to articles I've read, this was done so that New Era can move away from being a cap manufacturer and become a "brand" and hire others to make their products for them.