New Era

New Era

Founded in Buffalo, in 1920, New Era has grown from its humble family owned roots into a multi-million dollar apparel and Headwear Company. The company transcends its sports heritage as the official hat of Major League Baseball and manages to create a product popular to a variety of demographics. On any given day, people are as likely to see a New Era fitted cap on Jim Jones as they are on A-Rod.

New Era is a company that has always been about creating quality product with lasting appeal. The company values its longevity. Sid Dey, director of New Era retail operations, says, “We’ve been here for 87 years, so far, and we still feel like we’re growing on so many levels.” Growth is definitely in the plans for New Era as it attempts to make a presence in the worldwide market through its chain of retail stores. With the first store opening in New York in May 2006, the chain is expanding the brands global reach through stores in London, Toronto and Los Angeles. Also, in the works is a full apparel line which will further aid the brand in branching out from their iconic 59-Fifty product.

The newest New Era Flagship store be opening in Toronto on August 3 and will feature several hundred exclusive caps in a new spacious retail space.

“It’s just longevity, you’re here for the long run, not here for the quick buck.”

Format: Please introduce yourself and the New Era brand.
Sid Dey: My name is Sid Dey, I’m the director of retail operations with New Era caps. New Era is 87-years-old and started in 1920. It is a family owned business that started in 1920. We have our world headquarters in Buffalo, New York with satellite offices located around the world including Canada, Japan, and Europe. Our focus has always been just making headwear, but we’re starting to broaden our scope into retail and apparel.

Format: In the last year, New Era’s flagship opened in New York and London and, soon, in Toronto. How do these stores fit into the overall brand strategy?
Sid Dey: The retail is just a presence for us on the street. Kind of like a showroom on the street, it allows us to interact directly with the customer. A way to showcase the brand and try out new ideas; it’s a bit of a marketing vehicle. It’s a laboratory in which we get to test new ideas and see what’s going to work. The New York store opened in May of ’06 and holiday season of last year, we opened the Buffalo store. And this year, we will have a London store open, Atlanta, Toronto and L.A. before the year’s done.

Format: Why did you choose Toronto to open a New Era retail store?
Sid Dey: We rate Toronto up there as one of the fashion hubs of the world. One of the energy centers for the brand and just a lifestyle city. We rate it up right up there with New York, L.A. and London. The strategy of retail was to have a global presence, not to have a bunch of stores in one country, but to have stores around the world. By the end of the year, we’ll have six stores across three countries and Toronto just seemed like the best place in Canada.

New Era

Format: Recently, New Era changed the materials, liner and shape for the on-field 59/50 model. What was the rationale for the change?
Sid Dey: A big chunk of our business is the business we do with MLB. It’s still considered a performance cap so we do whatever we can to help the players on the field. The new hats is designed to helps wick moistures away when players are sweating, so players won’t have sweat dripping down their faces. These technological advancements just help enhance performance on field.

Format: Streetwear companies like Supreme or Huf seem to have a very close working relationship with New Era. How does the company accommodate their creative takes on the 59/50?
Sid Dey: Huf or Supreme would send us their ideas for headwear. New Era is basically just executing it for them; those guys are already experts for the lifestyle aspect of their brands. So if they have a collection, we’re just adding onto it on an accessory level and they’re just feeding us their designs. We obviously kick in our two cents by offering different fabrics and things above and beyond. They come to the table with what they want, we come to the table with what we can do and we find a happy medium.

Format: Recently, there are a lot of stories coming out involving poor working conditions in China. Seeing that New Era has moved much production to China, could you speak of your relationships with manufacturers there, and any ramifications of bad press?
Sid Dey: I mean we have a really stringent approval process involving our manufacturing facilities whether it’s domestic or international. Almost half of our product is made in the United States. The other half, there is a certain amount that is made in the countries where it’s their expertise in crafting the caps. There are things over that they can do over there that we can’t yet master over here or master at an affordable price.

New Era

Format: Last month, a story broke about custom gang New Era’s being recalled in Cleveland. Did this incident cause more reflection over what New Era would produce?
Sid Dey: We’re pretty strict in the first place about collaborations. At the end of the day, New Era is a heavy custom manufacturing company. A big chunk of our product is custom product, and we do have a committee that reviews every design that comes forth, but, in that case, that is one that slipped through the radar. We’ve tightened up the process on our side, we have a task force we’ve worked with police agencies. We take it very seriously, so as soon as we found out there was a correlation with that product associating it with a gang we pulled it from shelves immediately.

Format: New Era caps seem much more popular in North America than in Europe or Asia. Why do you think this is the case?
Sid Dey: I think it is very much in growing in Europe and Japan, and those places. It’s not as big as it is over here, but those markets are still in the early stages, I would say. In two or three years from now, it’s going to be a different stance on where it’s going to be. We opened a store in London this year, and the market gravitated towards it really well over there. The store has been busy day in and day out. Maybe they want the product but it’s not just there as much.

New Era

Format: A lot of people associate New Era with the 59/50, are you trying to branch out from that product at all?
Sid Dey: That is our heart and our core, the soul of New Era is the 59/50 product. There are other aspects to the brand. The hip-hop market took on and embraced the 59/50, so that’s the one that gets the most media play and is out there in music and videos. We do have the EK product which is a higher end product as far as fashion goes. It goes back to the Gatsby look; similar to the stuff you may see Common wear. It’s gaining popularity again and its one of the headwear things we’ve had for years that are growing again. If the market takes to different things we have it in our back pocket.

Format: Right now, New Eras are ubiquitous in hip-hop culture. Watch any music video or photo shoot and you are bound to see the familiar baseball caps. Obviously some trends come and go how you feel about the longevity of the company considering the fall of brands such as Starter.
Sid Dey: I mean one thing, we’ve been here for 87 years, so far, and we still feel like we’re growing on so many levels. That market has gravitated towards our product, and it’s becoming an accessory but it hasn’t become a trend. It’s just become a part of it. I don’t think people are going to stop wearing hats and we keep pushing the boundaries with designs and innovations. I think it will always be a part of hip-hop culture to tell you the truth. I definitely don’t think it is a short-term trend at all. It could be said that the fitted is a staple good. Any brand or any lifestyle Nike, Adidas, and I think New Era has it. It’s just longevity, you’re here for the long run, not here for the quick buck. Not here for the in and out fashion, you’re just here to make your mark.

Format: Could you speak on the New Era clothing line?
Sid Dey: New Era apparel line will be launching globally in the spring of 2008. There is a small collection that is strictly available in New Era Flagship stores, right now. It’s tiered up into the basic T-shirt collection and a high end cut and sews collection. The T-shirt collection is inspired by our 59/50 product, so that’s like your core polo’s. The cut and sew is above and beyond fashion forward product.

New Era

Format: What about the customizable Soul Capture package, where did you get the idea for that?
Sid Dey: Retailers and different brands we work with are customizing their own product. Some of our consumers just want to play around with products so the cap becomes a canvas for them to play around with and do something creative that suits their lifestyle. It’s a very limited edition product, about 3000 hats made globally. It comes in a pine box that’s engraved and branded and it’s going to come with eight markers on a white leather cap. You just do it up, some people are going to put their name on it and some people are dying to put whatever they want it. Some people are painters or artists so they’re going to draw cartoons or make it into a comic strip. It’s your canvas, a true expression of who you are, kind of how New Era came to be in the first place.

Format: What else should fans of the brand in Toronto look forward to with the Toronto store?
Sid Dey : August 3 will be the grand opening of the New Era Toronto store. It’s a huge space with several hundred different caps on display. A lot of unique product, I say at least half the store will be custom product. A lot of product that’s been in our NY store, which has got great feedback. There will be a lot of Toronto exclusive product that will be tuned into Toronto lifestyle. It’s a chance for consumers to really engage with what New Era is really about. Grand opening August 3, definitely something you want to be there at; doors will probably be open at 1:00 p.m..

New Era

Rocky Li

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19 comments

  1. Albizu Rondon, Man, myth, legend says:

    I sit next to the kid who designed 4 out of those 5 at New Era……and I helped him design one.
    Good work Hodge!

  2. Beth Smith, Visual Merchandising Mgr. says:

    I sit on the same floor, around the corner, down 25 spaces from the the kid who designed 4 out of those 5 at New Era, and Albizu.

    And 3 offices down from Sid.

    Nice work, Guys!

  3. i live two blocks away from the dude who sits 4 desks down from the girl whos same floor, around the corner, down 25 spaces from the the kid who designed 4 out of those 5 HATS
    Wow….. Good Job Guys….. all those nights hittin the bong gettin our creative jucies flowin Really Helped

  4. I’m the guy who screwed all your girls while you are counting corniers, desks and floors and posing with designing ugly hats.

  5. could you help out on launching the idea of having the desert tri color fitted camoflage cap???? thats the only cap that is missing from the camoflage styles from the ninety’s camo fitted….besides the new army bdu style….either way i think both would be great……

  6. Considering how much money New Era makes from urban/minority consumers and how much of the “inspiration” for the designs comes from hip hop and urban culture, they don’t give nearly enough back to the community……we should stop buying their hats until they make efforts to improve in this aspect. Stall and Dean, while they may not have many community programs, is a lot more responsible about their designs and pay respect to the negro leagues by trying to educate consumers. BUY STALL AND DEAN. I have absolutely no connection to Stall and Dean, but I just think they are a more responsible company.

  7. To Eddie: Stall and Dean’s hats are no where near the quality and style that New Era brings forth. They may not give all that much back, but really they’re just a hat company. They will keep on doing what they do best!

  8. i used to live next to this old man who knew someone who knew someone that had a friend and that friends cousins old schoolmate’s sister knows bill hodge’s dad

  9. EddieBoBeddie says:

    New Eras fell off quality wise around the time that MLB stopped using green under the brim.

    The quality now on the hats are terrible. They still are better than Stall and Dean, but they are made now to go well with the throwaway white tees.

    Chinese crap.

  10. NEW ERA HATS ARE THA BOMB CUZ THEY GO WIT MY SHOES ND SHIRT SO FUCK ALL THA HATERS WHO TALK SHIT CAUSE UR BROKE AZZ CANT BUY A 50 DOLLAR HAT BITCH ITZ AL ABOUT THAT NEW ERA HOE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. the hats r nice can anyone tell me wear i cud buy a cap then get a certain name stiched into the side of it

  12. the stores were hot when they opened, and now they suck. they had so much hype when the advertising when they opened. now the product sucks and the buzz around them is terrible. that nyc store fell off in 08 big time. it was the ish until 08. I went to the toronto store opening, and it was a much better looking store. why would they put a larger and better looking store in toronto over nyc?

  13. the caps are bad….kind of played out now. I been to the Toronto store and the Atlanta store. both stores are really nice looking in all honesty, but i found the toronto store to be the better of the two. one thing i don’t get is the big hype over the comic book hero caps…..it looks really dumb when adults are wearing batman caps….

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