Strictly Fitteds’ Best Fitteds of 2008

Part fashion statement, part marketing vehicle – the six panel fitted baseball cap has been a cross over success story, leaping genres, generations and nations. In 2008 cap collectors were blessed (or cursed) with a saturated market. Competition often brings out the best (and often the beast) in people and companies. In the end the consumer wins when the industry is forced to be more savvy and creative.

We were honored to be tapped by Format Mag to submit our Top Ten List for 2008. In the end, we decided on selection criteria based on this year’s buzz word – Change. This is “A” list of our top 10 picks of fitted caps that took it beyond the expected, visually and conceptually. These selections were not alone. ’08 had many creative minds producing hot designs. For those we are about to offend, there’s always next year.

10. ESTATE LA「Watermelon」Fitted Cap preview
What’s a small, young indie company to do when surrounded by corporate giants? Change the game? No, change the rules. Estate LA’s tear away concept was a head turning concept in ’07 and was revived this year in a special Summer release. The watermelon tear-away is more of a 3D sculpture than a traditional fitted baseball cap. The hat featured a print of the unmistakable Green skin on the crown. With some clever cutting, another layer of fabric is revealed underneath with a print of the red juicy innards, seeds and all. Call us purists, but we’ve never had the courage to rip panels of caps we “like”. Definitely not your typical average everyday, this conversation piece quickly outsold the demand. Strange enough it also missed our mailbox. (a-HEM)

9. NITRAID x NEW ERA MOSAIC RW 59Fifty Fitted Baseball Cap
Camoflague. Functional. Fashionable. A staple in street wear, Nitraid is a spin-off of Japanese hip hop collective Nitro Microphone and Associates. The brands’ MOSAIC RW cap ups the ante using a Mosaic digi-camoflague. The pattern was featured in a collection of apparel and accessories. Rather than using the usual suspects of Woodland or Tiger stripes, Nitraid took the digital approach to a classic. Shades of Green in blocks might not do much to disguise your position in the concrete jungle, but as a style choice it’s a centerpiece for your outfit. DJ Clark Kent put us up on this drop during one of his frequent flights to Japan. The matching Nike Air Force Ones sealed the deal.

8. ONE PEOPLE PROJECT x WORLD NYC x NEW ERA ONE WORLD Fitted baseball Cap
When San Diego based Clothing company One People Project and New York boutique World NYC’s set out to create their collaborative New Era 59Fifty fitted cap, a common thread was their universal view. The message, “One World” is embroidered on the front bill of the cap, reflecting the inclusive and progressive philosophy both companies share. Brown was a risk in the drop that included only one color way. The attention to details like the printed satin lining of an illustrated world map, worked not only conceptually but visually as well. End result, is something special and eye catching.

7. SUPREME x NEW ERA By ANY Means Fitted Baseball Cap
Supreme’s ”By ANY Means” New Era fitted baseball cap got points for being clever, but also our respect for being so ballsy in a Cease-And-Desist friendly market. Lifting a famous phrase best known from Activist/Minister Malcolm X (which actually was coined by French intellectual Paul Sartre in his play Dirty Hands), Supreme skated a razor’s edge, playing on the iconic letter logos of MLB teams and inserting their own twist. In this case “By ANY Means necessary.” In a town where the ends are often used to justify the means, this mash up is the Rotten Apple’s anthem.

6. SSUR x NEW ERA Mint Fitted Baseball Cap
Cheese, bread, dough, skrilla, cream, paper, spinach, cabbage, guap, fetti … cash by any other name is still the same. SSUR’s NEW ERA program consistently pushes the limits of embroidery and technical applications on baseball caps. SSUR’s creations pulls cultural, political, humorous and even some sexual influences. For this release they turned their laser beams on the Babylon Bill. This microsuede 59Fifty cap captures decorative elements taken from the (now not so) almighty dollar. Given the recent home foreclosure mess, the largest banking bailout in history, rampant layoffs and a general devaluing of the American greenback, SSUR’s vision could be seen as a bit prophetic. Or this could just be a hot cap. We choose both. C.R.E.A.M.

5. MASTERPIECE x NEW ERA New Arabic 59Fifty Fitted Baseball Cap
Japanese street-wear brand Masterpiece pulls inspiration from many global influences and cultures. This reboot of their Arabic New Era 59Fifty fitted baseball cap style plays with conflicting ideas and comes out on the winning side. The juxtaposition of the Arabic script on top of the US Army issue Chocolate Chip Camo triggers thoughts of the Iraq war, the current rampant Muslim-phobia, and a battle weary public opinion. We might be grasping at straws here for a deeper meaning, but we call it like we see it. Moving beyond political agendas the, khaki micro suede against the tones of camouflage are a hit. This innovative match up of materials coordinates well with Masterpiece’s smart choice of colors.

4. 3SIXTEEN x ELMCOMPANY Ready to Die Fitted Baseball Cap
Read to Die. It’s hard to hear that line without referencing the 1994 classic album and track by the late great Notorious B.I.G. To quote another line from Big Coppa, “…things ain’t always how it seems.” On the surface, the Charcoal Melton wool cap with Cool Grey under bill and Teal, Purple and Grey embroidery, comes off as a graphic driven piece with collegiate inspirations. 3Sixteen has always kept subtle references to their Christian faith (John 3:16) woven in the line. To the faithful this phrase is an affirmation of their spiritual walk. To the others it may inspires some soul searching and karmic housecleaning.

3. FITTED HAWAII x NEW ERA Makini 59Fifty Fitted Baseball Cap
In 2008 Fitted Hawaii wanted to create a platform to educate people through the medium of clothing. The fitted cap was chosen as a canvas and designs reflect the culture and heart of the Hawaiian people. The Makini release was a serious high point for Fitted Hawaii – one of the most intricately detailed caps designed this year. The cap is an interpretation of the helmets worn by a secret warrior society entrusted with the protection of the highest ali’i (chiefs) of ancient Hawaii. There is no dead space, virtually every area was used to recreate the powerful symbol through text and pattern. For the under bill Fitted built upon the dual theories, by embroidering ” Pupukahi i holomua” which translates to: “Unite to move forward.” To break it down; by “Working together we make progress.” Each one teach one.

2. JAI CRUZ Custom – The Dark Knight Joker Fitted Baseball Cap
A true New Yorker from the Soundview section of the Bronx, Jay Cruz received early artistic training as a painter at the reputable Arts & Design High School. After graduation he went on to further his skills at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Mr. Cruz’s style of realism makes each commissioned piece a true work of art. When JC presented this custom fitted baseball cap inspired by The Dark Knight, we had no word. “Why so serious?” he asked. The pictures don’t do this fine piece justice. Yes, and it’s all freehand – no projectors.

1. DJ CLARK KENT x NEW ERA 112_ _ 59Fifty Fitted Baseball Cap
Neon Green, Black and Grey was the color way to be caught in this year. Mysterious circumstances have clouded its original release, the 112 _ _ pack was one the most highly anticipated NEW ERA 59Fifty cap of the year. We still get email requests for information about when and where these will be available. Tastemaker DJCK kept the concept true to his heart and close to home, Brooklyn. 112 are the first three numbers in every Brooklyn zip code. The cap featured Black nubuck panels, a 3M reflective top bill, Elephant/Cement print under bill and a 3M reflective rear panel. The fitted cap was slated to be released as part of a giant collaborative release including three Nike shoes, a Mountain Bike (Brooklyn Machine Works x NYC Freeride x AWP) and a limited tee-shirt (Me Gente Clothing).

StrictlyFitteds.com is the premier online destination for daily news on fitted baseball caps. Founded in February 2007, in New York City, Strictly Fitteds filled a gap, catering to a long established and thriving group of international cap collectors that insist on a proper fit.

The blog has grown to become a trusted resource about of fitted caps ranging from vintage to contemporary.

Much more than a listing of trends, StrictlyFitteds.com offers the connoisseur as well as the curious, an exclusive look at fitted baseball cap culture in the form of exclusive previews, editorials, interviews and photo galleries.

Strictly Fitteds is plural, because one won’t do and two is not enough.

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