Thursday, April 10, 2014

Collectors Corner with Alessandro Belvedere

     Some people are credited as to wearing their heart on their sleeve. One, such as our guest this week, wears it on his neck. The 59Fifty love runs deep in todays collector, from a certain British Overseas Territory.

     Alessandro Belvedere is not only a collector of the 59Fifty New Era Cap, but a distributor to the masses. Mr. Belvedere is single-handedly spreading the culture, that we all share, to the public of a group of islands, East of the United States. Now, allow yourself to get to know another great personality in our community. 

TFD: Where are you from? / Where do you currenty reside?

AB: I'm from and reside on the island of Bermuda

TFD: What size New Era Cap do you wear?

AB: I wear a 7 1/2 or a 7 5/8. I considdered growing my hair out once, but then realized that less and less hats were fitting me. I just couldn't sacrifice them, so I went back to a bald fade, quickly.

TFD: Do you remember what your first New Era Cap was?

AB: My first fitted was an NBA Eastern Conference all-over fitted. It was red and had all the logos of the Eastern Conference teams on it.

TFD: How large is your New Era 59Fifty collection, currently?

AB: Currently, it's sitting at 107, but I'm on a trip and I'm sure I will be adding to that. What I tend to do when I travel is take one fitted with me, and I also take an empty New Era hard-case hat holder, that I'll fill up. I went a bit overboard the last time I was in New York City, and ended up having to buy a second case.

TFD: What originally caught your eye, in terms of appeal to the 59Fifty?

AB: I always liked how clean and tidy the fitteds looked. Whether you're wearing a t-shirt, a football (soccer) jersey, or a button-up shirt, you can rock it with anything. 

TFD: What would you say is your favorite cap in your collection, and for what reason?

AB: My favorite fitted is my black Yankees fitted. It has the Yankees logo filled with cubic zirconias. I got it as a gift from my brother, when he went on a trip to Miami.

TFD: Being in Bermuda, what sports do you considder yourself a fan of, and what teams do you follow?

AB: With Bermudians, football (soccer) is like a religion. My team is A.C. Milan. I've been a fan for over twenty years. It was my dad's team, and I will keep that tradition going in my family. 

     I like basketball and baseball, as well, but I'm more of an NBA Finals/World Series type of person. It's pretty cool though, when it comes to collecting hats, as I'm tied to any major sport teams that New Era produces caps for. 

TFD: You started a small business named "Fittedz", exclusively providing New Era Caps to the good people of Bermuda, pimarily by way of Instagram. How's that been going for you?

AB: At first, business was going really well; I couldn't keep hats in stock. Unfortunately, my supplier went out of business. I'm currently looking for a new one, so if anyone out there knows of any leads, please feel free to pass on their information. 

TFD: "Fittedz" offers island-wide delivery. That's a pretty unique feature. Do people tend to appreciate that option?

AB: People really appreciate it. I mean, it's a small island, but they love the convenience of being able to comment on a picture on Instagram, or sending me a WhatsApp message, and getting their hat as soon as possible. I remember, one night, it was about one in the morning, and one of my friends had been at a house party, telling people about "Fittedz". He called me up asking if I would pass through, with what I had in stock. So, I loaded up my two New Era hat bags, like the big ones that hold 25 each, and went. I got to the party, made a couple of sales, and a lot of connections. I have a hustlers mentality; unfortunately, I just can't say no to money. Haha.

TFD: Do you plan on expanding the business to a website or store-front location?

AB: I've always wanted to expand "Fittedz" into something more, whether it was selling Jordans as well, or other trending accessories. I've considered a store-front, but I think I would probably lean more towards the whole online store/app world, once I get it all on track. 

TFD: What is the fitted culture like in Bermuda?

AB: The culture is thriving. For an island that only has a population of 65,000 people, there are a lot of fitted-heads. It ranges from your average person who has one or two fitteds, to collectors like myself. The one constant is that almost everyone has a classic navy blue fitted. 

     The only thing we are missing is New Era tapping into the football club market. If they made Milan, Real Madrid, or Manchester United hats, they would sell very well, here. Bermudians love to match a hat to their football jersey, on the weekend. I find the culture here mirrors the hip-hop culture of the states, a lot more than the culture of some Caribbean islands. 

TFD: Are there any 59Fifty caps out there that you missed out on the first time around, and would consider your "Holy Grail"?

AB: My "Holy Grail" is a hat that was once at the New Era Flagship Store in New York City. It had "HATER" across the front, with a broken heart representing the "A". If anyone can find me one in a 7 1/2, I'll be indebted to you forever.

TFD: You and I are both in the Facebook group accurately dubbed "Team Fitted". What are your thoughts on our fitted-collectors community, and the fitted community as a whole?

AB: I think what's been done with "Team Fitted" is absolutely amazing. I stumbled across the whole community on Instagram, one day last year, when I had searched the "fitteds" hashtag. I came across Alex's and Ramiro's profiles, with their #FOTD posts; from one follow, to two, to three, to about 30 or 40, I've now connected with a lot of guys from all over the world. 

     I've traded hats and all sorts of things. To be honest, you feel comfortable with these guys and know you wont be getting screwed over. There is a sense of trust amongst us, like a family would have. Everyone is always trying to help one another. It's really a unique experience in this day and age, with so many shady people around. I'd love to see it continue to grow. I just wouldn't like to see it turn into how the whole Jordan community is. I think we keep our style a little more unique.

TFD: If people want to follow you, in terms of social media, where can you and your business be found?

AB: You can find me personally on Instagram @441fittedking, and on Twitter @_mrbelvedere_. "Fittedz" is on Instagram @fittedz_bda. I look forward to connecting with more people from all over the world, through the fitted community. 

TFD: Anything else you'd like to add?

AB: I'd like to give a shout-out to Andrew Mitchell, who was part of CrewEra '13. I had the honor to meet up with him in Toronto, in November. He linked me with one of his custom fitteds; the whole day was a ball. 

     Thank you, Alessandro. It really is amazing to see how far the love for New Era Caps ranges, all over the world. In the past month, The Fitted Diaries has covered collectors from the United States, England, Canada, and Bermuda. Where will our next Q and A come out of? The only way to find out is to stay tuned. Thanks again for reading.

Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: @matt_aballi

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Collectors Corner with Mike Perri

     What you see above, may be the sweetest cake ever created. Not literally, well perhaps; but more in the sense of it's payment of homage to the 59/50 New Era Cap, in dessert form. The carefully crafted pastry item was what caught my eye, and ignited a connection of a similar hobbies with Mike Perri, of Canada.

     Mike has also recently found the spotlight through the various forms of the New Era Cap social media extensions, with his carefully organized display of his cap collection, seen below. (It has over 20,000 likes on facebook.) If those two assets aren't enough to draw your attention to the following interview, there's no hope for you.

TFD: Where are you from?

MP: I was born, raised, and still reside in Thorold, Ontario, Canada. It's a small city of 18,000 right near Niagra Falls.

TFD: What size New Era Cap do you wear?

MP: I wear 7 1/4 now a days, but will either go down or up a size if I can't pass up a specific cap.

TFD: Do you remember what your first New Era Cap was?

MP: My first New Era Cap was a Philadelphia Phillies Cooperstown cap that I still have. I got it when I was visiting family in  New Jersey/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We ended up gonig to three or four different malls before I found one I really wanted.

TFD: How many caps do you currently have in your collection?

MP: Right now I have 215 59Fifty caps, but that number will go up very soon, as I have a couple orders I'm waiting to get in. Plus I'll be making a trip down to Buffalo in the near future to grab a bunch of new stuff that I'm still waiting to drop.

TFD: Do you have any "rules" as to what makes the cut, in regards to what goes into your collection?

MP: I really have no rules to my collection. If it's a sweet cap, I'll buy it. The only teams I won't have in my collection are the Canadiens, Senators (although I have one that was a gift), Yankees, and Cowboys. I also stay away from comic and movie caps, usually just because I wasn't big into that stuff when I was younger. I feel like guys that have caps from comics or superheroes have a huge passion for that kind of stuff, and I feel like those guys should be the ones rocking those sick caps, not me.

TFD: Do you have a particular way in which you display or store your fitteds at home?

MP: My hats at my house are displayed on my walls in my bedroom. I got the tip from Benjamin Christensen, a huge collector. I use push pins and butterfly paper clips to have them hang on the walls with the fronts facing out. Right now I only have 180 caps on my walls, as I have to take down some stuff to make more room. The rest get stored in plastic bags in my computer desk, for now.

TFD: Do you have a favorite cap in particular?

MP: My most favorite cap would have to be either my Blue Jays 59th Anniversary of the 59Fifty cap or my Mighty Ducks 20th Anniversary caps that just came out this year. Wouldn't be a collector without the 59Fifty and my love for hockey, which started by watching The Mighty Ducks both on the NHL and the movies and T.V. series.

TFD: What are your favorite sports?

MP: My favorite sport is obviously hockey, as a Canadian, but I love all sports. I'll play anything and I watch every sport on T.V.

TFD: What are your favorite teams to root for?

MP: My favorite teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia Eagles. You can tell I live close to Toronto!

TFD: You recently went to the NHL Winter Classic, between the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings, in Michigan. What was that experience like?

MP: The Winter Classic easily has to be one of the best moments of my life, so far. Especially being able to spend it with my dad, who got me into hockey, and is the reason I am a Leafs fan today. Just being in the same place as everyone else, knowing there was 100,000 people in attendance, was crazy. The fact that it went to a shootout and the Leafs won made it that much more memorable. I could have been out there all day watching them play. It was freezing and we ended up having to walk 45 minutes to an hour to the game and back, as there weren't many cabs running because of the weather. Even with all that, I'd relive that day over and over again if I could. If anyone has the chance to go to an event like that, do not even hesitate. It'll be worth the money and any weather conditions you might have to face. Haha.

TFD: Did you pick up any special edition caps at the Winter Classic?

MP: Unfortunately, they only had Reebok apparel for the game, so there were no New Era Caps, which was a huge disappointment. I do not have any caps from the game besides a toque. I might through it out and grab a snapback still, just to commemorate the game.

TFD: Are there any caps that you maybe missed out on that you'd consider your "holy grail"?

MP: Some "holy grails" for me, right now, would be New Era's "Capture The Flag" line. The line started out in 2004 and gets various famous people to design a cap, which is made in limited numbers, and comes in a full display box with silk lining, a signed card, and a little mirror. I am trying to find as many as I can from the line, but still have yet to get my hands on one.

TFD: Where is your favorite place to shop for New Era Caps?

MP: My favorite place to shop for my caps is none other than the staring place of the company and the headquarters of New Era, the New Era Buffalo Flagship Store. It is about a 45 minute to one hour drive, depending on the border wait, so I don't always get to go just to browse. I will usually pick out a bunch of caps over a month and then go pick them all up. I actually have the honor of saying I can consider the manager, Billy, as a friend, now. We're always talking caps. Crazy the friendship caps can bring you.

TFD: What are your thoughts on the fitted community?

MP: The fitted community is amazing! I have built friendships with so many guys just talking about and sending each other caps that aren't available in each other's areas. I've gotten caps from the United States, Canada, and even the Netherlands. I've also shipped out caps to the U.S., other parts of Canada, Europe, and Mexico. We're always hunting for hats for other guys, and everyone is doing the same back; a very tight knit community whose always looking out for each other.

TFD: If the readers are interested in following you on social media, where can they find you?

MP: You can find me on facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
        facebook: Mike Perri
        Instagram: @PERRIM16
        Twitter: @perri_mike

     Toss me follows and don't be scared to send me some messages. I'm always down to help other collectors with questions or getting caps for them that they can't find on their area. Stay fitted and keep collecting!

     I'd like to thank Mike for getting back to me with the answers to my many questions, very quickly. I hope all of you got something out of it, and hopefully added a follow on social media. Until next time, keep collecting!

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Collectors Corner with Corey LeFebvre


     Corey LeFebvre is a giant in the fitted game. With a collection well into triple digits, he represents the essence of a great collector. Just like those who came before in our collectors series, he prides himself on the quality of what he has, not merely the quantity. 

     Although, a selective eye may not be what all of our readers considder to be the first and foremost quality of collecting New Era Caps, it certainly is an admirable and appreciated aspect. Take a journey with us, as we learn what drives Corey in his quest, one 59/50 at a time. 

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

CL: I was born in a small town in North Dakota, called Minot, but I've been living in Tacoma, Washington since I was four years old. We are kind of like Seattle's less popular, ghetto little brother.

TFD: What size New Era Cap do you wear?

CL: 7 3/4, but sometimes I have to step down to a 7 5/8, depending on the hat material, age, and country of origin. 

TFD: When did you start collecting New Era Caps?

CL: I started collecting seriously a little over two years ago. I'm sort of a newcomer to this thing, or at least I feel like I am. I had long hair down to my ass for most of my life. I always loved hats, though flat bill fitteds with long hair or a pony tail didn't look good, so I would wear beanies with my hair tucked in them most of the time. When I finally decided to cut my hair, I went to the mall, got it hacked off, and walked out with a Seattle Mariners on-field cap on my head. A few days later, I was surfing for hats online, and stumbled upon The Clink Room website, and the rest was history. I think I ordered like twelve hats from them in the first month, and I've steady been rocking and copping them ever since.

TFD: What was your first New Era?

CL: The first New Era I ever owned was an away cap from my hometown baseball club, the Minot Mallards. It had a green crown with a red bill, and a gray under. I have the teams logo tattooed as part of my sleeve on my right leg.

TFD: Do you still own it?

CL: No, and it haunts me every damn day. Reward if you can find it!

TFD: How large is your collection?

CL: Last count, I was just over 200, but it's hard to say exactly. I am strictly fitteds, no snap-backs allowed. 98% of my collection are New Era's, but I do have a handful of Stall and Dean caps, mainly in teams New Era doesn't produce caps for. The quality from Stall and Dean does not compare to that of a New Era 59/50. 

TFD: Do you see yourself collecting forever?

CL: Yes I do, but I see my collection becoming more selective. I'm sort of on the hunt for more rare items already, and I see that being where my attention goes.

TFD: Are There any caps that you would regard as your "holy grail"?

CL: In addition to the Minot Mallards cap I talked about earlier, I've got a couple in my head that leave me feeling incomplete because I don't own them. There are a few Dragon Ball hats I would love to own. I've had the chance to buy them, but either the price or the size wasn't right. I love the Disney branded stuff; the Winnie The Pooh ones in particular I'm always looking for. 

TFD: Where is your favorite place to shop for caps?

CL: That's hard to say. I shop everywhere. Locally, I'm pretty much stuck with Lids or Just Sports if I want to actually try the hat on before I buy it. I frequent the three or four malls around here, and most of the hat store employees know me. I've ordered from every website there is; I've done eBay, I've bought from private sellers overseas, I've picked up gems at minor league and major league sporting events. I'm constantly shopping for hats. My favorites are ones that I have traded with people online or were given to me from friends in the fitted game. The Crew Era 13 guys specifically have always had my back in that department. The fact that we are all so spread out across the country makes it a little easier to find stuff when you're desperate.

TFD: What is your favorite cap?

CL: Probably my "Shams" hat from The Clink Room. It's just classic with the design and execution of craftsmanship; The colors are simple and perfect. I'm having to limit the wear on the thing, so I can keep it fresh in the collection. Losing or ruining a hat beyond repair is one of my biggest fears!

TFD: As a sports fan, what teams do you root for?

CL: Of course I root for the home teams; the Mariners and the Seahawks. I loved watching the SuperSonics as a kid. I'm hoping we might get them back someday.

TFD: What do you feel makes your collection great and/or unique?

CL: I take pride in my collection in the fact that I think all of them are "nice". I'm a fan of simple designs and color patterns. Sometimes, hats can be too loud. I'm not going to say I don't own a few, but for the most part, I think my collection is low key and just "nice". I've always gotten compliments on the colorways of a lot of my caps. I guess I got a good eye for it. 

TFD: What's on your radar in terms of "caps to pick up"?

CL: I've got my eye on a few of The Simpsons collection fitteds that are dropping in Japan soon. I'm also looking to get one of the Spike Lee Heritage Series caps, when they hit flagship stores in a few months. 

TFD: Any advice to any of the young collectors just getting into the game?

CL: Wear what you like, rep what you love, and dont be afraid to talk and share your passion with other collectors. I have friends all over the place because of my love for fitted hats, and that's what I feel it's all about. If you have three caps that you wear on a steady rotation because they represent you and you love them, then that's flying your own flag. In my opinion, you're doing it right. If you've got a hat for every day of the year and they speak to you at the same time, then hell yes, keep it up! 

     Anyone can spend a shit-ton of money and become the king of caps, but that doesn't mean you're better than the next guy. Stay humble, keep it positive, and have fun. I mean, it IS just hats for crying out loud. 

TFD: If people want to follow you and your collection, in terms of social media, where should they look for you? 

CL: Make sure to check out myself and a whole bunch of really good guys on Instagram. I use IG primarily to display my collection. My handle is @bigc253. You can also find me on Twitter @253bigc. I'm also one of the administrators of a fan page on facebook called Team Fitted; be sure to find us on there too!

     I'd like to thank Corey for being a really inspirational and fun interview. Hopefully the readers found a truly solid collector to keep an eye on. He's the guy with the awesome beard, if you were curious. Until next time, thanks for reading The Fitted Diaries.

-Matt Aballi
Twitter: @MattAballi
Instagram: matt_aballi