No one takes me seriously. I stand in parks shouting ‘Buffy (you vicious little flea bitten shit)’….but the dog doesn’t come. I lurk by night in dimly lit alcoves, in all my most swollen and velvet finery, but no one buys me a drink. I could run into a bar naked and shout ‘Free beer and BJ’s at the Big Dong Diner’ and there would be no reaction. No doors are opened, no capes cast across puddles, no palms greased or wheels oiled, and no one, but no one, considers my collection ‘a brand’
And why not? I’ve followed all the rules. I have a discernible story behind the graphics that depicts the heart and soul of the label; I’ve been clever with my prints, spreading them across a selection of T-s, hoods, sweats and polos, with crafty colour changes, to make my range so much bigger than it really is…ssshhh…we don’t actually do that. I have a lovely website, and look at all my friends on Facebook, hurrah, everybody says they like me – but somehow, the bigger boys won’t take me seriously…they won’t let me join the leather clad, look a bit ill and smoke loads of fags club, in the playground behind the bike sheds…the Fashion Gang,
Perhaps I need to grow a bigger back woodsman’s beard, and spend more time in Clerkenwell, in a checked shirt and drop crotch ball room pantaloons. No hold on, I already do that, no, I need to…er, I need to, I really need to… AHA! Bugger me backwards in a flat peaked snap back, I have it! I need to expand the range to be taken more seriously, and then they’ll just have to let me in.
Jackets? Well yes of course, but tricky, expensive (and I’m still paying for Bernard’s stag do), there will be minimums and a big outlay…Nocandoo.
Denim? Ha, I’d love to, but we’ll discuss the ‘denim ceiling’ in another chapter, that Everest, that trip to the moon, that sell my house, my Grandma and Guinea pig, to fund a potential hell ride straight back to the job centre.
Trainers? Need to make loads…I could customise a few I suppose, but after three days in the dog house and a poke in the eye, due to the discovery of a small section of graffiti overspray on the sofa, I’ll pass.
Then there is but one answer, both in and on our head…the affordable, can be done in small quantities, desirable, easily embroiderable (that’s a word, ok!) the gorgeous and colourful, hat – which we will split into two sections.
The baseball cap – for many years, before your time, and known only to the old, grizzly, and likely to wee on their slippers brigade (not me), they were a pretty functional bit of kit, for dungaree’d farmers in Nebraska, and baseball players in sunny places, with meshed backs for sweaty bonces. There are also people so old, that then remember golfers making them slightly cool with that most desirable attachment, the ‘pro style peak’…lord knows, we all wanted one of those. But for most of you, with birth dates that coincide with my release from rehab, it’s all about New Era, Obey, Supreme, and someone doing a project somewhere called ‘Norse’. I’m not entirely sure what the project is about…snow probably, pine trees and saunas, that sort of thing.
Anyway, our industry has switched onto this, and so provides flat peak snap backs for your delight and delectation, all ready to be embroidered. To make them relevant they usually give them product names like the ‘Gang’ or the ‘Groove’ – because that’s how insanely down with the kids the hat industry is, that’s their M.O….and indeed, how they roll (dear Jesus, don’t forget me).
So, you buy a few in, slap an embroidery on the front, festoon them all over your web site and hey bloody presto, you’re a bit more of a brand, right?
Well, um…wrong. You will look like you’re ringing a doorbell and about to say, ‘Did you order a deep filled Hawaiian, with cheesy crust?’ (sounds painful, and a bit whiffy).
If you’re going to do it, only my ever so humble view, but you’ve got to do it right. Silk linings, printed under peaks, printed tape, labels, contrast eyelets, contrast snapbacks, contrast mesh and a contrast crown stud….it’s about contrast. Da kids will settle for nothing less. It’s what they see when they wander into Size, even into Foot Locker (what a great name for a shop), so why won’t they expect it from you, with 3D embroidery standing half a mile off the front, as standard, and a flashing light on top?
Which means you have to bespoke, which often means a minimum of 144, and the smash of the piggy bank as you raid it for the last of your loose change.
And when they’re made, will they sell?
How can I put this?
Without being hated…
Well thanks for that Paul; you’ve been an absolute font of knowledge and all round national treasure as ever. The above is all pointless, and in getting this far I’ve missed three dances on Strictly, and an episode of ‘I’m so fat I can’t wipe my own bum,’ presented by Davina. So I’d better explain, and this is just my theory, so it’s probably cobblers. Man walks into a bar; sees someone wearing same T as he has on; gets depressed and goes to the toilets for a cry. It’s the last thing you want, a social smash of the tram variety. But: Man walks into bar; sees someone wearing a New Era 5950 very similar to his own; feels like he’s come to the right shop and orders a jaunty cocktail, with nibbles. T-s must be different, but there is massive brand loyalty to hats and trainers, so what’s the likelihood of you breaking that brand monopoly? Nil. Probably.
But let me redeem myself. Bespoke hats are more than worth doing as a marketing tool. If you have a spare G and want to make a lovely brand carrier, come on in, the water’s lovely…slap it on some superstar DJ beep and whistle merchant, spinning plastic on a podium, and it’s a proper winner, often better than any other form of advertising – but do it with dough that you don’t need to see back in a hurry. That’s all I’m saying.
I said I’d split this into two sections didn’t I? But I’m writing this lying down and I think I might be developing a bed sore, so I’ll be brief.
Yes, good idea – cheap, cheerful, and unlike caps, you can embroider them here and still make them look as good as anything any of the major brands have to offer. And that’s all I care about, looking as good as the main players.
That’s not entirely true; I care about one more thing. My Granddad. He was never without a hat – a nice thick felt trilby in the winter, a Homburg on occasion. And for the summer of course the obligatory straw hat, in which cream suited, he would stand in the brown waters of the North Sea, tie firmly in place and braces attached in perfect parallel, scanning the horizon at all times for possible invasion. Through the cigar smoke, that steely blue eye was ever ready, to fix his pen knife to the wooden handle of my spade and charge screaming into the waves.
He would most likely have dropped his raspberry mivvy and had a heart attack, but not before he trampled a few day trippers from Rotherham, who would also have been fully hatted up. In those days all Englishmen were, but there was one word present that Crappy Dappy and Dipshit in their flat peaks can’t spell…glamour…a hat used to mean glamour…how can we float that gorgeous shiny boat again? Discuss.