Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Future for The Culture: Meet Brett Swartz

     For many cap collectors to say they have been "chasing the dream" for quite some time would be the most modest of understatements.  Many that I've had the pleasure of getting to know have been working on their ultimate hoards for well over a decade and some for as long as 25 years. That type of commitment and desire is something to be revered but let us not forget that one day the future of our craft will eventually be carried out by the next generation. 

     Today, we get a chance to meet one of the youngest cap connoisseurs around. You may not know the name, but rest assure, it's one you're going to want to get to know. This 21 year old, hailing from the depths of the desert, can only be described by one word; NEXT. He may be early in the hunt, to some, but sooner rather than later all bets are on this collector being a giant in our game. Without further ado, here is this weeks conversation with Brett Swartz.   

TFD: Brett, where do you call home?

BS: I am originally from Orange/Riverside, California but I moved to Phoenix four years ago to go to college.

TFD: What size fitted do you wear?

BS: I wear a 7 3/8 but can make 7 1/4 or 7 1/2 work in a pinch.  

TFD: When did you find yourself beginning to collect fitted caps?

BS: I have always been really into caps. When I was growing up I had a cap for each of my favorite team. In high school, I expanded my collection to around 20 caps. I really didn't consider it a collection. There were a few caps I wore and some others that were older that I didn't want to get rid of. When I got to college, I noticed a few hat collector accounts on Instagram; Spike Leach (@SpikeLeach), Will Schaule (@goodwillyum), Anthony Collicchio (@xclickaroox), etc. I started expanding my collection from that point forward. 

     In February 2016, the Kansas City Royals were fresh off their World Series win and newly designed Spring Training cap dropped with the Royals adding a crown to their "K.C." logo. I knew I had to have it. For two weeks, I drove to different Hat Club stores in Arizona and even to the Royals Spring Training facility (looking for the cap). After nearly giving up, I stopped into a random Hat Club that I had never visited before; of course, the caps were  there on the shelves. The feeling of finally finding one was something I looked to replicate. Around March 2016, I decided to start a fitted cap specific Instagram account. separate from my own. Since then, my cap collection has exploded.

TFD: Can you remember what your very first cap was?

BS: I personally cannot remember it but it is well documented in pictures. As a baby, my Dad had a newborn sized Kansas City Royals New Era Authentic Collection cap for me, when I was born. That cap is in a lot of photos. It's still in my possession, today.

TFD: Where does this love for the Royals come from? 

BS: My dad lived there during a very key year in K.C. sports history. As a 9 year-old, he witnessed the royals come to fruition, in 1969. He witnessed the growth of a future Hall-of-Famer, in George Brett (guess who I was named after). My dad also saw the first Royals World Series victory. From all that, his fandom was passed down to me. Not that I had a choice, anyway. 

     After years of torment, they finally rewarded my loyalty in 2014 and 2015. Those years were filled with moments that I will never forget. Sports truly are magical, aren't they?

TFD: If anyone follows you on Instagram, they can see that the majority of your caps are baseball related. Any favorite teams, other than the Royals?   

BS: Since living in Arizona, I have developed a soft spot for the Diamondbacks. MiLB wise, my favorite team was the (now defunct) High Desert Mavericks. When I was a kid, my dad ran a club-baseball team named after them. I played many games under that "hatted-M" logo of theirs, so it has held a special place to me, in terms of cap collecting. 

TFD: Are there any specific rules you have, in terms of what caps make the collection and which don't? 

BS: I usually stick to USA-made polyester caps, due to them fitting my odd-shaped noggin the best. I don't really have rules, besides that. However, from my page you can see I mainly stick to baseball related caps. 

TFD: You recently did a mini-tour of the Arizona Fall League, where you happily helped multiple members of Team Fitted acquire On-Field caps. Which team in the league has your favorite cap/logo and why?

BS: Everyone loves the Scorpions logo, due to its awesome design and notable team alumni (Michael Jordan, Tim Tebow, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, etc). However, I actually dig an outside the box, team. My favorite is actually the Salt River Rafters cap, because, to me, it is just so unique compared to other baseball logos. It just stands out. I have been helping people get AFL caps for two seasons, now, yet I still don't own a single one of their caps! Guess I need to fix that!

TFD: What would you say are some of your favorite caps?

BS: Some of my favorite caps are my Royals 2016 Ring Ceremony/Friday alternate cap, the ever-illusive 2016 Asheville Tourists "Beer City" cap (one of my first MiLB caps) and my Casper Ghosts cap. 

TFD: Are there any "holy grail" caps that you would like to add to the collection but have had trouble finding?

BS: Any of the Royals special event caps, pre-2015; Memorial Day (2013-2015), Stars and Stripes (2008-2013), All-Star patch caps (pre-2016), along with all of their older Turn Back The Clock caps (2011-2015). I missed out on those, back in my pre-collecting days. Another one I would like would be the Portland Beavers two-tone cap from the 2008-2010 era. There are a few others that I really want that I wouldn't say are quite grail status...yet.

TFD: What are your most frequented hat stores?

BS: Hat Club, for sure, being in Arizona where they have most of their locations. It's pretty easy to visit them. Plus, they do the best business in the business, in my opinion. 

TFD: Have you enjoyed being part of the Team Fitted group?

BS: 100%. I love chatting it up about caps and other cap related topics, with other collectors. I also love seeing what everyone else is grabbing, especially when I can't afford to buy one. I love being able to assist people with finding caps they want (I.E.: the Arizona Fall League caps).

TFD: What does the fitted culture mean to you?

BS: It gives me hope that I am not alone! Even among baseball players, who own more hats than usual, I am the crazy hat dude on my team. On a more serious note, it is amazing what fellow cap collectors are willing to do to help out one another; whether it is a person with thousands of caps or even just ten. I can't count how many times other collectors have assisted me with information or have even grabbed a cap for me in person, all the way across the country. That kind of blind generosity is a model I think the whole world could benefit from following. 

TFD: If they don't do so already, where can the readers find you on social media?

BS: On Instagram I go by @FittedGuy16. I do have a personal account but I do like to keep that one separate. I use my cap account quite a bit more. On Twitter, my handle is @Swartzy16. Those are my most-frequented social media outlets. I also use Flickr to catalog all of my caps. If anyone wants to see an updated view of my collection, you can check out my account there. 

TFD: Lastly, if you could design your own custom New Era Cap, what would the inspiration for that be and what might it look like?

BS: That's a great question. I really love what Hat Club is doing right now with the customs and in-house designs. The Dionic Danny creations, as well. Personally, I would follow on Danny's path by creating a faux-team identity and branch off from that. 

(The now sold-out Dionic Halloween Octo-Slugger cap, via Hat Club)

     As far as inspiration and what it might look like, I have no idea at this point in time. However, I have always wanted to dabble in the custom-game, so who knows. Maybe something will come of it in the future.

     That will do it this time around. I hope you enjoyed today's read, featuring Brett. He's a young collector who is years ahead of the game. His willingness to help others and passion for expanding the fitted culture qualifies him as a valued part of Team Fitted. Give him a follow on Instagram, if you haven't already, @FittedGuy16. Thanks for reading and remember, #StayFitted

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi




Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Sunday Conversation with Benjamin Christensen

     For most reading, the name Benjamin Christensen is one that will ring bells of familiarity. Ben, or "Shakabrodie" as his thousands of Twitter and Instagram followers might know him, has been a prominent figure in the world of fitted caps for quite some time. Ranging from being a part of the now famous Crew Era 13 collectors group, to being a prominent figure of a certain bay-area cap store, along with managing a rather well known corporate social media account, he's seemingly done it all. Rest assured, he's just getting started.

     I recently had a chance to spit-ball and bounce a few questions off of one of the greats in the fitted community, with hopes of finding out what makes him tick. Needless to say, the results certainly did not disappoint. Enjoy this week's interview with the man of a thousand hats, "Shakabrodie."

TFD: When did you first start collecting fitted caps?

BC: I would say I first really actively started collecting caps in 2009/2010. Prior to then, I just had a few caps from my time working in the San Francisco Giants organization, back in 1999/2000 (with the Bakersfield Blaze). There were a few random ones, back then; an Oakland A's home cap, a 1969-1991 Montreal Expos cap and a 1980's Philadelphia Phillies cap. When I got older and grew my hair out is when I started grabbing at least one of every MLB team and a few Minor League Baseball teams, which then snowballed into the 1000 or so that I have now.

TFD: What attracted you to the culture?

BC: It's not so much the culture that I was attracted to, as the hats themselves. Since I was a kid, I've always treated hats as pieces of wearable art. Some would make the same claim about shoes. The overall construction and the amazing colors and logos are very attractive to the eyes. Also, it's one of the few articles of clothing that actually tells stories; by that, I mean, hats serve as beacons to some about the town/city they live in. Even though we're talking about an accessory/piece of a uniform, hats have transcended fashion and become a part of a person's upbringing or personality; that's what continues to attract me to them.

TFD: When did you start working with Hat Club?

BC: I started working for Hat Club in June of 2014, at their location in Daly City, California at the Serramonte Mall.

TFD: What are your roles with the company?

BC: Along with running the day to day operations at their location in Concord, California, I've been serving as the company's Director of Social Media, since April of 2015. I'm also the unofficial "Hat Lord" of the company.

TFD: How do you feel your experience as a journalism student affects your ability to run Hat Club's  Twitter and Instagram feeds?

BC: My journalism background plays a huge part. While some folks see social media as a void to mutter jokes and spit dribble, it actually serves as a wide-reaching platform to tap into markets and consumers on a scale that wasn't imaginable 15 years ago. By understanding how the masses communicate (tone and thirst for information), I have become pretty savvy on picking up how we, as a society, evolve via communication. It's a mixture of being witty and relevant, while leaving a lasting impression.

TFD: Speaking of the Hat Club Twitter account, the company has recently been dropping some absolute fire, via their feed. Which of the most recent drops is your personal favorite?

BC: Hands down my favorite is the one hat I've been trying to locate for about six years, now; the old school Jacksonville Expos minor league hat. Even though I'm an A's fan, I've always been a huge fan of the Expos organization, especially when it comes to their logo and color schemes. Any time I see something of a historical significance involving the Expos, I have to have it. Even though I work for Hat Club, that doesn't necessarily mean I get first dibs at everything; I still have to fight tooth and nail for these sweet releases, like everyone else.

TFD: What can we expect to see in the near future?

BC: Expect to see a lot of really cool shit, coming from the MLB, MiLB, NFL, NBA very soon. I think we're dropping over 100 new releases, spanning from mid-September through November.

TFD: Is there anything that you, personally, would like to see produced?

BC: Not a lot of people know this, but I've actually designed a few hats in the past. I wouldn't say they're anything too special, just hats that I know would take off. For example, the late 80's Seattle Mariners "S" logo hat, with the mid 90's Seattle Supersonics color way. When it comes to stuff I'd like to own and wear, I always design and pass forward my ideas to our buying team to get their opinion. I know there will be at least three dropping some time over the next month or so that I helped create or bring back to life. It's always a cool feeling knowing that other hat collectors share the same nostalgia for a lot of the hats that I help put out.

TFD: As a fellow wrestling nerd, any potential for a collaboration of the squared-circle variety?

BC: If it wasn't so hard to cut through licensing, I would love to see some kind of a collaboration with the WWE, New Era and Hat Club. I know those things would be cleaned out in a matter of minutes.

TFD: Anyone who follows your twitter has seen the unique labeling system you use on your caps. Can you break this down for the readers?

BC: So, when it comes to my marking system, which I've really slowed down with, I always choose jersey numbers, statistics or major event dates in the history of when each hat was used. I first got the idea from Livan Hernandez during the 1997 National League Championship Series. A lot of Dominican players write on their hats to pay tribute to loved ones or friends who have passed away; I was really inspired by that kind of a simple tribute.

TFD: Do you have any rules in your collection? For example, are there any caps you will not buy, based on the team?

BC: For them most part I don't buy any custom color way hats; however, I've been known to be a habitual line-stepper when I see something that pops. For the most part, as long as it's something that was, is or resembles something that has been worn on field, those are my targets.

TFD: What is your favorite cap in your collection?

BC: It has to be my 2012 Oakland Oaks Turn Back The Clock hat, that I actually got at Hat Club. I can't really explain why. It's just such a clean cap. It was also the cap the A's wore when Josh Reddick hit a walk-off double, against the Seattle Mariners.

TFD: Are there any "Holy Grail" caps that have seemed to evade you that you're still looking for?

BC: I'm always on the hunt for a few caps. The top of the list is made up of a few of the A's hats from their Kansas City days, a 1998 Milwaukee Brewers road hat, New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals pillbox hats and the 1974 Boston Red Sox alternate hat. Those are all stupidly hard to find.

TFD: As a fellow Team Fitted member, what is your favorite part of the group?
BC: I love seeing a lot of the rare hats that other Team Fitted members have. I also enjoy helping a few of the T.F. members track down some of the "Grails" they have been trying to locate. Over the last few years I think I've helped at least a bakers dozen guys and gals add some gems to their collections.

TFD: What's next for Benjamin Christensen?

BC: Good question. Probably a beer and a nap in the immediate future, but I'd really like to have some more free time to get back into writing. I really want to restart my hat blog that I was active with from 2013 through early 2014. It brought me a lot of joy and I was able to meet and talk to a lot of cool people as a result of it.

     That concludes this week's interview. Big thanks go out to Ben for willing to be a part of this and giving me some really good material to work with. Hopefully, you now know a little more about him and will reach out and say hello. If you want to connect with him on social media, you can find him at the following places:

Twitter: @Shakabrodie
Instagram: @Shakabrodie

also, if you do not do so already, you can find Hat Club, here:

Twitter: @HatClub
Instagram: @HatClub


-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blatantly Turning A Blind Eye


  Trying to keep kids interested in Major League Baseball is something to be totally in-on and support with all your might. Without the support of future generations, it would be rather difficult to sustain funding for a business where each of it's 750 (on-field) employees all make well upwards of a half-million dollars. The real question to ask is, is it worth the cost of completely selling-out tradition in the process? On the eve of the inaugural "Players Weekend", this is the inquiry at hand.

        Major League Baseball will jump into the deep-end of the proverbial highlighter-pool, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as they debut sets of 30 in-game uniforms, featuring florescent colors and nicknames, amid many alterations. This series of temporary changes stems from the current on-going Little League World Series, in which MLB hopes to link the sentiment of love for the great game of baseball across all ages, beginning with the youth. Fans young and old will once again "remember" how fun and special the sport truly is.


       Not that baseball can't be fun, but surely we don't need to go to these drastic marketing lengths to keep fans involved. If the argument is that it's "for the kids", think again. These uniforms and caps are being sold in adult sizes, too.

        The New York Yankees seem to be the one franchise that resisted to the eye-popping modifications, as far as the On-Field New Era Caps are concerned. They went with a rather simple navy interlocking N-Y over a monochrome road-gray brim and crown. That much is tolerable but what comes next seems asinine and downright sac-religious.

        The fore mentioned interlocking N-Y, traditional blue pinstripes and white background have all been removed on the home jersey. Additionally, the "Yankees" cursive word-mark has been placed across the chest, in white font, over a navy blue body and road gray sleeves. Lastly, they too have nicknames on the back. To make mild alteration is one thing, but to completely butcher it? Awful. This is a traditional design, originating in 1915.  (see below)

        Surely, there was a better way to link the lineage of the little leagues and the big leagues. This is blatantly just a petty plea to sell jerseys and caps to anyone willing to shell out the money. In fact, it's so ridiculous that MLB Shop itself has to remind its shoppers that, in fact, these abominations will make it onto all major league fields.

        In conclusion, this, in its entirety, is a messy, rushed disaster of a marketing attempt. If Major League Baseball has to go this far to draw in the casual fan, they have bigger problems than they think and that is something to really have concern for. 

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Is Old is New Again

     Whether it be a familiar scent, a sight for sore eyes or a memorable sound, nostalgia can be triggered at a moments notice. It seemingly comes out of nowhere but as soon as it hits you, you are magically transported to times of pure joy and simplicity. 

     It is not always easy to elicit these feelings, but, for many in the fitted-cap community, New Era has recently done exactly that. With the release of their "MLB Retro Classic" collection, many baseball fans have been launched back in time to their fledgling stages of days at the ballpark. 

     Being a "fan" is a funny thing that can be defined in many ways. True, going to games is a great way to show your support; there's really nothing quite like being there. Getting a player-tee is another fantastic way to show everyone who you specifically pull for on your club. Of course we need to mention the addition of an authentic jersey, which really puts you in that upper-echelon of supporter. However, perhaps, the official On-Field New Era Cap is the best way to link us all in a subtle simplicity of shared armor. It's an unmistakable and classic way to represent your organization and let everyone know what you're all about. After all, it is "The Cap The Pros Wear".   

     New Era's recent "MLB Retro Classic" line is one, in the opinion of most collectors, has been a long time coming. In 2007 New Era and Major League Baseball completely overhauled the iconic 5950 cap. The major change; no more wool. The company moved to a primarily polyester-based cap, which was geared to decrease troubles to athletes based off of sweat accumulation. The caps still fit well and looked great, however to many fans of the popular pro-model of past, some things seemed to be missing. In addition to the material change, looks were mildly altered over the past 10 seasons, being capped off this season with the New Era Flag being permanently affixed to the exterior of the hats.

     Everyone can finally breathe. Salvation is here. A select run of styles in various teams have been produced and are now up for purchase HERE at New Era's official site and HERE at Lids official site. New Era opted to turn back the clock with some of baseballs most iconic caps and team logos accordingly, in full accuracy of the originals. The flat team logos and "Batterman" logo have returned to the iconic cap along with the light-gray under-brim. The interior sweatband is again white, the way it was initially designed. There is no New Era Flag on the wearers left side and finally, the cap is once again 100% wool. 

     Undoubtedly, these will be received rather positively among the masses and they will likely sell out in the most popular sizes quickly. All that can be hoped for is the realization on New Era's part that they have done a fantastic job in the reproduction of these and that there is an absolute need for expansion and further production of the line. 

     Until then, appreciation is to be had. Good things have been done. A large corporation has chosen to look into the past at something that had been deemed vestigial by a major partner and managed to find value in it in the eye of the consumer. That is truly something worth celebrating. This should be regarded as a victory for collector and fan alike. It seems as though even those at the highest rungs of the business world can too reference their youth, as fans, and appreciate nostalgia as well. 

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Necessary Evil

     In life, it is often fact that things need change, if there is a hope and desire for growth. This is a truth that pertains to many things, however in this specific case, brand recognition on a global level.

     After speculation and concerns surfaced in past weeks, it was confirmed Monday by Major League Baseball (MLB), through , that indeed there will be a permanent change to the coveted New Era On-Field MLB 59FIFTY Cap. Starting with the Wild Card Round of the MLB Playoffs, the On-Field team caps will brandish the New Era Flag logo, on the wearers left side. Whereas this is absolutely a change that will be noticed immediately, it is maybe something that fans of New Era Caps should have seen coming a long time ago.

     Questions arose throughout the New Era communities earlier this baseball season, when an advertisement ran on the scroll-boards behind home plate at Yankee Stadium. Most, with what they felt to be educated eyes, thought they had caught a mistake. The cap in the Authentic Collection ad displayed an On-Field New York Yankees cap with the New Era Flag logo 'imposed' on it. Certainly, some intern in Buffalo had mocked up the image for marketing and the higher-ups in the office missed it; an error had been made. Then, this week, the feared has become reality.

     It's absolutely understandable that this may come as a shock and most may need a second or two to process it, but there's one main thing to remember in the grand scheme; this is still a business. Yes, since 1994 New Era has most famously been known for being the exclusive On-Field Cap of Major League Baseball, but growth is always a welcomed opportunity for a company of their caliber and advertising is as important as anything in the process. 

     To provide a brief history following the MLB deal, vast expansion of business, through fashion based caps, was ignited by the likes of musician Fred Durst and his red Yankees fitted in 1999 (look it up, kids). The support of the Limp Bizkit front man, along with other prominent luminaries, fueled the company into the next decade. The 2000's were a 10 year window which truly established the culture around the brand that many adore, today. 

     The writing was on the walls by late 2010, after news broke that New Era would additionally become the official On-Field Cap of the NFL, for the start of the 2012 season. The beloved cap company from Western New York had made a statement at that point; global growth was here. Since then, New Era has expanded their horizons even further by linking up with international soccer clubs, such as Manchester United and even recently bought the naming rights to the Buffalo Bills home stadium, now known as New Era Field. 

     The brand we all know and love is bigger than it has ever been and is trying to solidify their status even further by putting their logo on the side of their biggest product. It makes sense. That's just good business. It's how you garner exposure. This truly shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. 

     If it truly is a brand we all love, maybe we should just embrace the change and not throw unneeded shade towards a minuscule difference. 

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Collectors Corner with Alex Mitchell AKA sfgrippy

     "The Most Hatted Man in San Francisco"; this is how today's guest identifies himself. sfgrippy, as his many subscribers of the various social media platforms might recognize him, is an avid New Era Cap collector and passionate fan of his local San Francisco Giants.

     Alex, as the rest of his friends refers to him, is also the man behind a fantastic up and coming YouTube Channel, named after the "sfgrippy" alias, where he chronicles his favorite fitteds and fashions in how he chooses to wear them. Now, join us on a journey into the man with the "Halfface".

TFD: What is your name and where are you from?

AM: My name is Alex and I am from the foggy, foggy town of San Francisco

TFD: Now that everyone understands the basis of the "sf" in your social media handle, how would you describe your relationship to the Bay Area and its sports teams?

AM: Ha! Well, I am a huge baseball fan, so the San Francisco Giants are my team and have been for as long as I can remember. I also worked at AT&T Park (from '01-'03) before moving away for college; I was a Visiting Clubhouse Attendant. It was the most fun job I've ever had. I met so many players and got to see a lot of the behind the scene stuff before and after the games. Ken Griffey Jr. made fun of my hair; I'll never forget that.

     I was never interested as a kid but I got into football about eight years ago, so of course, at the time I was going to root for the 49ers. Even at the time, when they were just awful. I'll root for the Warriors but never really liked basketball; however, they are moving to San Francisco in a few years and their new stadium will only be about a mile away from where I live. Games and concerts will be great, since I never have to drive or pay for parking! As for the Raiders and Sharks, the Sharks are fun but the Raiders I do not care for. Oh, and Stanford over Cal, for college sports.

TFD: What would you say is your favorite sport to watch, either on person or on Television?

AM: Baseball for sure on T.V. and is person. We have been lucky here since AT&T Park was built; it is the jewel of Mission Bay. The Atmosphere in that area is awesome. It isn't just a baseball game, it's a whole event. Take a train or walk, hit up Safeway for a 40oz, walk to Seal's Plaza and drink it on the pier, where the cops can't tell you to stop. Then, get into the game and get your chicken strips and garlic fries, with an $11 beer; stand or sit, whatever you want. I actually hate sitting at games, so you'll find me in the arcade section (right field) at every game. S.R.O. (Standing Room Only) loyal!

TFD: Would you say sports have influenced your obvious love for the fitted cap culture?

AM: Definitely. I played baseball for fifteen years, from age five to twenty; you rarely saw me without a hat. The best was when I started playing on a team that used fitted hats. It was like hitting the jackpot!

TFD: What was your first fitted cap?

AM: My first fitted cap was a San Francisco Giants cap that my dad bought me when I was a kid. I can't remember the year though. We went to Oshman's Sporting goods, in Millbrae, California. I remember looking at hats there and picking one up. I also remember my dad complaining about the cost; but when did he not? Haha. I kid, but that always stuck out to me.

TFD: Was it a gradually growing collection or did it take off like a wild fire?

AM: Gradually, for sure. In fact, I always just bought hats. I never thought of it as collecting, as I was just a hat buyer/receiver. Most of the hats I bought/received, when I was young, I used for baseball and everyday wear and are now in bad shape. A few I even tossed, because they were covered in mold; my closet was damp, in college. It ruined a lot of items. I feel I bought a lot more after finding about the large community that is out there. It's like when you find something you enjoy you kind of go overboard. Currently, I'm at a comfortable place with the collection.

TFD: How large is your fitted collection currently?

AM: I haven't counted since last July, but I think I'm pushing 170. The quantity isn't doing it much for me. I could have 300 hats, but that wouldn't be impressive if they weren't rare, dead stock, foreign or something special. The type of fitted and quality of them is what I focus on now. Plus, I live in San Francisco, so if you read Bloomberg and such, you know most of my money goes to my house!

TFD: Would you say you have a favorite?

AM: It's hard to say. I do have "favorite fitteds", ones that I wear more often than others, but then I also have favorites that I don't wear as much. I think my definite favorite, though, is my San Francisco Jailbirds cap. This was a cap that my buddy Len (@elkodesign) designed and we worked on together to manufacture and push to the public. We built a friendship off of this hat, too, which was pretty cool. We've tossed around ideas of creating other caps and have some things in the works.

TFD: As of late November of 2014, you had started a YouTube channel, featuring video-shorts. What was the inspiration for the project?

AM: This was about a year in the making. Working with a friend of mine, who is a producer in the Bay Area, we came up with a concept and ran with it. I noticed there aren't many hat videos out there on YouTube, so I wanted to bring some quality; that is what I believe I may have accomplished. More will be coming. Starting in March we will see a steadier stream of videos. Just search "sfgrippy" and you will find me. Stay tuned!

TFD: That is great news. I think many collectors would appreciate a more frequent schedule of videos, as the material is very good. Given the time-consuming events of everyday life, do you have any plans to make it a more consistent upload schedule?

AM: I do want to upload more consistently. I can make time work, but there are other costs to the videos. I have been working on finding sponsorships for videos, and actually my first sponsorship will be revealed later this month. The material is currently being sent out to me and I should have it soon. I am very proud of this achievement and can't wait to reveal it to the hat community, other fashion outlets, etc. It's a slow process to build, like a hat collection; nor does it jump off right away either, as I am still working or growing my brand. With everybody's help I can get there faster. Share, like and subscribe!

TFD: Where is your favorite place to shop for fitted caps (either local or online)?

AM: Local: Hat Club at the Serramonte Mall and the New Era store in downtown San Francisco. Those two mainly. I can spend hours at those stores talking to the people that work there. I find those stores have the most knowledgeable men and women in any hat shop. They're 10/10; highly recommended.

         Online: Ebbets Field Flannels (, since they aren't sold anywhere locally.

TFD: Are there any "holy grail" caps that you can't seem to grab a hold of, that some of our readers might be able to help you find?

AM: Yup! Four, specifically:

1.) 2007 All-Star Game San Francisco Giants patch cap

     This came around at a time when I was just flat broke, just out of college. Now, I'm trying to locate it is very hard, since they don't come around on eBay often. Someone will hook it up. I know it!

2.) San Jose Giants in a 49er color-way

     This was a Cap City release years ago. I've contacted them on numerous occasions to try to have it remade, but I think there are other reasons why they might not able to. I'm not sure.

3.) Twiztid x Mishka Keep Watch cap. Their second version with the green eyeball.

     I ordered it the first day it came out, when it actually sold out. It was delivered by the mailman, put in plain view, and someone actually stole it from my front yard. The second time I tried to get it on eBay, but I must have just updated the app on my phone, and I didn't get the notification saying the auction was ending. When I went to check on it, I had missed the end of the auction by a mere three minutes.

4.) Reno Aces Championship Gold "A" cap

     I'm not a fan of the Aces, really, but they won the "Triple-A" championship. In 2013, they played their ring ceremony game in their home hats, but instead of a white "A", it was a gold "A". It was just a sick hat. Plus, my name starts with an "A", so it would be cool to wear. It was so rare, that I could only find two pictures of it.

TFD: How would you describe the "fitted culture" in the Bay Area?

AM: Broad. There are the collectors you know about from Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, who all connect and such, but then you have the collectors that don't post at all, anywhere. I have a really good friend who has about 150 or more hats, all fitteds, all Giants and 49ers ONLY. Most of those are in red and black, as well.

     The ones you know about from the Bay Area are all connected in one way or another and help each other out. Some work for hat shops and can help you out when you need a size. We all have our ways of contacting each other, too; we're all willing to help out.

TFD: What's your favorite part of the fitted community, as a whole from your perspective?

AM: That's a good question. I have collected a lot of different things in the past, but nothing that compares to this. People get killed over shoes; the fitted community isn't like that. If there is a drop, then someone anywhere in the WORLD will offer their help; that's pretty cool. Plus, have you ever hear the phrase "It's hard to make friends as you get older"? Well, not in this community. Everybody is cool as hell and you learn about each other's lives. I've been to their houses! They've been in my car! We've drank beers and eaten burritos together! That's a trip, to me.

TFD: If our readers would like to follow you, via the multiple social media platforms of the world, where can they find you?

AM: You can find me anywhere as "sfgrippy". You know you want to; sometimes I'm even funny. Just type in "@sfgrippy" or "sfgrippy" on any of the main sites, and I'll be there; I'm even on reddit!

     Thank you again to Alex, who provided an awesome look into his own life and the Bay Area fitted culture. We all look forward to his next post and many more to follow. Thank you sfgrippy!

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi

Monday, December 29, 2014

Collectors Corner with Ordanny Olivo

     It goes without saying aloud; the New Era Cap culture is a part of us. It's a daily feature of our lives. It shows the world many things: where we're from, what we love, and conclusively who we are.  Some like to use the phrase "I wear my heart on my sleeve"; I like to think some of us "Wear our hearts on our heads". Regardless of that, the more intriguing thought is that (conversely) we are part of the New Era Cap culture. That little facet of our community is where our guest, Ordanny Olivo, comes in.

     Along with his great appreciation of everything 59Fifty, Ordanny also has a fondness and talent for graphic design. The obvious question here would be if he would somehow be able to combine the two fields. This venture, which can now be seen all over #TeamFitted social media, wound up being what most would consider a highlight in the past year of the cap-culture. With his unique adaptions of the famous 59Fifty size sticker, Ordanny was able to infuse a little bit of each collector with the New Era style. With this, he has put his mark on the fitted world for the better. Take a couple of minutes to learn about Mr. Olivo, and what makes him tick.

TFD: Where are you from?

OO: I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. My family is from Dorado, Puerto Rico.

TFD: What initially drew your interest into the fitted cap culture?

OO: Baseball. I played baseball growing up, and always kept my caps. As I got older, I just started buying them, for the teams I liked. Last year was when I started seeing all the collectors on Instagram; it just blew up from there.

TFD: What was your first cap?

OO: Technically, the first cap I ever owned (that I can remember) was the Chicago White Sox cap. As far as when I started collecting, it was a New York Yankees cap, I got for Christmas.

TFD: How strong is the love for the New Era where you live?

OO: Well, Detroit was voted "Best Sports City", so I would say pretty strong. Pretty much, everywhere you go, you see someone wearing a Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, or Pistons New Era Cap on!

TFD: How many caps do you claim on your collection?

OO: I currently have 68, with 4 on the way!

TFD: You clearly have an affinity and talent for graphic design, through some of the personalized work you've cooked up, for some of the Team Fitted guys. Is that something you do in a professional capacity?

OO: Unfortunately, no. In high school, I took a Photoshop class and learned a lot of the basics. Through the years, I've just learned by trying things and watching videos on YouTube. It is something that I might pursue in the near future, though.

(Above, a design Ordanny created for myself,)

TFD: What sports do you call yourself a real fan of?

OO: Baseball and football. I can sit down and watch any two teams play, and enjoy the game. I just love the two sports. Hockey I watch on occasion.

TFD: What teams do you follow?

OO: There are a few teams. For baseball, first over all others, are the Tigers; my hometown team. I also like the Pirates and the Orioles. For football, it would also be my hometown team; the Lions. I also like the Broncos, Eagles, and Jaguars. Yes, I know the Jaguars suck. Haha. For hockey, my teams would be the Red Wings and the Ducks.

TFD: What is your all-time go-to cap?

OO: That's an easy question. Detroit Tigers Authentic home cap. All navy blue, with the white "D". I can throw that on with anything.

TFD: Are there any "holy grail" caps on your list that you still cannot seem to find?

OO: YES! The Jackie Robinson "42" Brooklyn Dodgers cap, that was released for the "42" movie. That's on the top of my list.

TFD: What size New Era Cap do you wear?

OO: 7 1/8

TFD: The Team Fitted custom sticker logos have become somewhat legendary, on the Team Fitted Facebook page. Which of your adaptations is your favorite?

OO: Yes, they have; they are all amazing in their own way. My favorite one would have to be the Breast Cancer Awareness one. I have an aunt who is a recent survivor of Breast Cancer. I'm amazed at the outcome of that sticker!

TFD: Are there any markets of sport or pop culture, which New Era has not yet tapped into, that you wish would one day become an on-cap collaboration?

OO: For me, personally, I would have to say NASCAR. I'm a huge fan. New Era does have some NASCAR caps, but they are not in the 59Fifty style.

TFD: If you could design your own fitted, what would it look like?

OO: It would definitely have one of my logos on it. I have a few unreleased ones. It would be a Diamond Era; all black, with the front white. The logo would be black and white; simple. It would also have a white New Era flag on the side.

TFD: If the readers of this would like to follow you and your creative work, where should they look on social media?

OO: On Facebook, you can find me under "Ordanny Olivo. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person with that name, so it's an easy find. For Instagram and Twitter, my handle is @0rdanny; the first character is a zero ("0").

     Thank you, Ordanny. You're a great part of our growing fitted cap culture. We look forward to your great work in the near future. Keep it up!

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi


Monday, October 20, 2014

Collectors Corner with Reagan Lee

     Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder; it's one of the greatest parts of life. Everyone has a different view of the world and everything in it. Whereas all New Era collectors and fans can appreciate the companies fine products through their website, in a store, or on the streets via someone else's style, Reagan Lee has been offering his perspective through his game-changing fitted photography. Let's take a minute to delve deeper into the creative genius from the Down Under.

TFD: Where are you from and where do you currently reside?

RL: I'm an Aussie residing in the North-West suburbs of Sydney. 

TFD: What size New Era Cap do you wear?

RL: This is a never-ending battle with the hat marks across my forehead, as I'm between a 7 and a 7 1/8, so most caps either need stretching or shrinking. 

TFD: Do you have a current count of your collection?

RL: Yep. If I counted correctly, I should have 156 in hand, with a bunch of others coming from Team Fitted friends. 

TFD: What is your favorite fitted that you own?

RL: You've got me there! That may have to be a close call between the Monopoly 500, for its sweet, minimalist logo design, with a funky Monopoly cash brim, or my Blue Jays pixelated stadium exclusive, for its simplicity, and pixels having a soft spot with me, having grown up with the old school PC games, like Quake II. (Thanks to @disneynorth for this one!) 

TFD: Along with being a fantastic collector, you are perhaps, more well known for your incredible photography of New Era Caps. Where do you draw your inspiration from, when shooting?

RL: Initially, it stemmed from the fact that I love my caps, but I only have one head; I can't logically carry them all with me, either, so, I decided to keep a nice archive of images on my e-devices. Each time I enter a shoot, I prepare by researching ideal locations of what I find relates to the New Era culture; for example, urban locations and graffiti. In saying that, I'm very open to branching out to other settings, such as nature and retro, should it fit with a particular cap and helps showcase it nicely with a frame.

TFD: How long have you been involved in photography?

RL: I've been into photography since I was in school over a decade ago. I took it seriously and earned a degree in graphic design and photography from a university, back in 2008. The funny thing is that I currently work for a photographic retailer, so I am able to stay up to date with all the new products. 

TFD: Being from Australia, what sports would you say you are a fan of?

RL: I like the NRL (National Rugby League), but my heart lies with basketball (the NBA), and football (the NFL). I am a huge Olympics buff, too, so once every four years I'll drop off the face of the planet, for two weeks!

TFD: What are your favorite teams

RL: NRL: Parramatta Eels (my local team.)
       NBA: Chicago Bulls (I will NEVER forget the Jordan era.)

TFD: If you had to name one, where is THE PLACE to shop for caps, in your neck of the woods?

RL: Like they say, a magician never shares his secrets ;)

TFD: You are the man 100% behind the Team Fitted Secret Santa organized event, this winter. Care to discuss that a little bit?

RL: The idea stemmed from a conversation, initiated by @tanxican. We were discussing how it would be a neat idea to have an event, such as this, to encourage a sense of community, and allow people to bond with someone whom they normally wouldn't chat with, otherwise. I had the privilege to experience Secret Santa with another community (Threadless) in the past, and I thought it would be perfect for Team Fitted.

TFD: What is your favorite part about the whole process?

RL: So far, it would be seeing others make the effort to discover more about their recipient. Though, I think my favorite part is yet to come; seeing people unbox on Christmas Day, and having them post pictures for the rest to see. There should be some good smiles and laughs coming out of that. 

TFD: Do you plan on creating group events in the future? There could be a lot of potential. Perhaps a "birthday club" type scenario?

RL: There's definitely potential for many events, as we're grown, responsible adults, for the most part! We'll see how the first big test pans out, but never say never!

TFD: What do you like most about the fitted community?

RL: Without a doubt, it's peoples' willingness to help each other out, with obtaining caps that would otherwise be impossible to get! People are also nice and respectful, which is a rare trait found in online communities, these days. 

TFD: Are there any "Holy Grail" fitteds that you are searching for, that some of our readers might be able to help you out with?

RL: I think I've been fortunate to have obtained most, thanks to Team Fitted. The one that has eluded me is the Cheshire Cat; well, at least a legitimate one. Sadly, every single one on eBay is fake.

TFD: Lastly, if our viewers would like to follow you and/or your photography, where should they look?

RL: I am most active on Instagram, @madhattereags , but viewers may also check out all my photos, to date, uncropped, in their full glory, at . Links to my Twitter and Facebook are there, also. 

     Thanks, everyone!

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Collectors Corner with Adam Gordon

     As far as cap collectors are concerned, the only name in fitted hats is New Era. The company has literally produced 99% of coveted collections, all over the world. It's more than something to be a fan of, it's become it's own culture; some would even go as far as claiming it as borderline religion.

      For most, it's something we have only followed, admired, collected, and adored from a safe distance. For others, such as the CrewEra13 group, it is a tangible, yet temporary experience of what it is like to be immersed in the brand, itself. However, even fewer get to live it, on a daily basis. Today, we find out what it's like to manage the only New Era Flagship store, North of the U.S. border. This is Adam Gordon.

TFD: Clearly, you have a love for the fitted culture. When did you first start collecting?

AG: I've never really looked at myself as a collector, but someone with a passion for fitted caps. If I was to put a date on it though, it would be around 2001.

TFD: What size cap do you personally wear?

AG: I'm a 7 3/8's

TFD: How many caps do you currently have?

AG: I haven't really taken an accurate count of my caps. I have a lot compared to the normal man/woman, but nothing like the guys from CrewEra13.

TFD: What professional teams do you tend to root for?

AG: The Baltimore Ravens, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Raptors.

TFD: Are there any specific "rules" you have, when it comes to what makes your collection?

AG: I feel everyone has their thing. I'm someone who likes basic, but unique. So, I can go anywhere from a basic on-field, to a custom color-way that expresses my style.

TFD: As some know, you are, in fact, the manager of the New Era Toronto Flagship store. When did that opportunity present itself?

AG: As a kid, I had a few shops that I always looked at as my dream jobs; West49, EB Games, Lids, and New Era Toronto. Two years ago, an opportunity to work at a local Lids store came up. I didn't really know anything about retail, but the passion I felt towards the culture was so strong, it pushed me to learn all I could inside and outside of the workplace; I never gave up. Four months ago, the opportunity to work at New Era Toronto landed in my lap. Although it looks like I've become successful at landing my dream job, the passion is still burning, as I've set new, bigger goals for the future.

TFD: To most, that sounds like an absolute dream job. What has been the best part about working there?

AG: I'd have to say the people I get to talk to, everyday; getting to know the people who make this culture what it is, today. Not only the customers, but the people who work behind the scenes to make sure we have the best and hottest product in the store at all times.

TFD: What is your favorite New Era Cap of all time; something you would claim to be a "must have"?

AG: Well, a must have in my collection would be the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl cap. Also, the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays World Series cap; very simple, but it's something I'll forever have in my collection.

TFD: What has been your favorite collaboration that you have seen New Era put together?

AG: New Era's collaboration with Play Cloths, Billionaire Boys Club, and Kid Robot have been some of my favorites.

TFD: Is there any company you wish New Era would collaborate with, that they haven't worked with, yet?

AG: I can't really think of anything off the top of my head. I'm pretty satisfied with everything New Era has been doing.

TFD: Being the only Canadian-based New Era franchise, you feature the Canadian Football League (CFL) caps, which are rather scarce in the United States. Do you get many requests for those products?

AG: LOL! Yeah, from You! A few people have shown some interest in them, but our store is four floors high. We've got a ton of product that catches people's eyes.

TFD: Who has been your favorite client of New Era Toronto?

AG: Favorite or most frequent? Ha! James Hummel (@disneynorth) is definitely one of my favorite people to come into my store; he's in on a weekly basis. His passion for not only New Era Caps, but the Team Fitted world is insane. Shoutout to @neweraking2121 and @mitchell_21, as well, even though @mitchell_21 is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

TFD: You're a man of many tattoos. Do you have any devoted to the fitted?

AG: Haha. I have not committed to the fitted in that way, as of yet. You never know; could come soon!

TFD: If any of our readers would like to follow you, via social media, where can they find you?

AG: Of course!

        Instagram: NewEraGordon
        Twitter: NewEraGordon

     In closing to this week's post, I just wanted to thank Adam, for taking time out of his busy schedule to take part in this. It's not every day you get the chance to chat with someone as close to the product, as he is. Definitely give him a follow through those social media platforms.

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Collectors Corner with Simon Treese

     In this edition of Collectors Corner, here on The Fitted Diaries, we feature a great collector and cap designer from Europe. Simon Treese, whom is perhaps better know by his alias "Hat Hunter 09", took some time to answer a few questions about his collection and the German cap culture. 

TFD: Where are you from?

ST: I come from Eiweiler, Germany. It is a very small town near the French border.

TFD: What size fitted do you wear?

ST: Normally, I wear 7 1/2. Sometimes, due to materials, I wear 7 5/8.

TFD: What was your very first fitted?

ST: I am not sure because I bought my first one about 16 or 17 years ago. I think it was a Yankees fitted. Yankees fitteds are the most popular hats in Germany, I would guess. I have been collecting hats since I was a child, but I started specializing in New Era hats just about two or three years ago.

TFD: How large is your collection currently?

ST: I'm not quite sure, but I think I have around 105-110 fitteds at the moment. Due to pending orders I don't know the exact number.

TFD: What is the fitted culture like in Germany?

ST: I think there are more people collecting and wearing snap-backs, but I also think there are a lot of fitted freaks in some of the bigger towns in Germany. I know some people who are as crazy as I am. I think they are all in the Capaddicts Facebook group. 

TFD: You're the designer of the now renowned "Hat Hunter" cap that has been circulating the fitted community. What served as the inspiration for the unique design?

ST: I am always on the prowl for new fitteds. Therefore, I am wearing a trapper hat. I chose a stars and stripes outfit because I love the USA. I've visited the USA a few times. I am wearing a baseball glove (in the logo) because my favorite caps are usually MLB and MiLB fitteds.

TFD: Do you ever plan on working on another design?

ST: Not at the moment. I am considering making a second "Diamond Hat Hunter" version, though. 

TFD: What is your favorite sport? do you have many fitteds from that sport?

ST: As a German, my favorite sport is soccer. I am a big Borussia Dortmund supporter. Unfortunately, there are not that many fitteds for soccer. I mostly collect MiLB and MLB hats, but also some from other sports like  the NHL, the NBA, or the NFL.  

TFD: What are your current "holy grail" pieces that you wish to add to your collection?

ST: The "'MERICA" 59Fifty released for the 4th of July last year, and the "I got 99 problems" fitted.

TFD: Where do you do the majority of your shopping for New Era Caps?

ST: Lids, New Era Europe, and New Era U.S. Sometimes or I know very nice guys who always visit the New Era Flagship stores in Berlin and Toronto for me. Thanks to James and Norbert!

TFD: What is your favorite cap of all time?

ST: Of course my own designed "Hat Hunter" fitted, because it is my very own logo, and it is strictly limited. Thanks for all the guys who had the confidence to buy one from me.

TFD: If people want to find and follow you via social media where should they look?

ST: My Instagram is hathunter09. You can also find me on Facebook when you look for Simon Treese. I also have a Twitter account, but I don't use it often. Twitter is not very popular in Germany. 

     Thank you, Simon. Stay fitted, my friend.

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi