Snappin' is back. We've been talking about it for the past couple years, but 2011 is probably the more official year of snapbacks being on the scene for fashion kids and on the shelves of retailers that have kept their ear to the ground in terms of what's hot. The in-trend wearing of snapbacks got me thinking about the origin of the popular late 80s/early 90s style hat. After a little digging I found that snapback hats are thought to have originated in the mid to late 1800s– when different types of hats were being used for the old American pastime of baseball. At the time, several different caps were being used with the baseball uniform– straw hats, boating caps, cycling caps, jockey caps, etc. So a less modern, more basic version of the snapback might have been around.
Brooklyn Excelsiors and New York Knickerbockers in 1858
The official baseball hat (as we know it today) was first worn by the Brooklyn Excelsiors in the mid 1800s, but the hat first became an official part of the baseball uniform on April 24, 1849 when the New York Knickerbockers unveiled their official club uniform.
old style (vintage) baseball caps
I guess if there was a "snapback" back in the 1800s, the "snap part" had to have been similar to the metal snap buttons you often find on windbreaker jackets. There is still some speculation on how far back the history of snapping baseball caps go. But what we all know for sure is that the famous snapback caps we know today came about in the 1980s, and were made popular by the hip-hop/rap music culture of the era. That's where American Needle comes in…
Tupac Shakur wearing an American Needle snapback
American Needle (AN) is the original snapback maker, and started selling "the snapback" everyone loves today in the late 80’s. The vast majority of the high fashion snapbacks of the time were American Needle designs. A lot of the hats were worn by musical icons of that era – even American musical icon Tupac wore American Needle's Blockhead style in the movie Poetic Justice. And now, AN has brought back many of their originals for us to indulge in… pretty sweet, right? Moreover, they've chosen to giveaway 5, yes five of their original Blockhead style snapbacks to The Urban Gentleman readers. I mean, who doesn't love a free snapback?
To win: Follow on Twitter, Fan on Facebook, and/or sign-up for T.U.G Mail. Then simply comment or retweet. And as always the more ways you enter the higher your chances of winning. (winners are chosen via random.org)
I'm pretty intrigued by American Needle's history (In 1946, American Needle supplied the first Major League Baseball team caps ever sold to fans in a ballpark – in Chicago's Wrigley Field. ), and I'm very impressed by the vast array of hats they have. I've never quite seen an online retail collection of hats like theirs. They manage to cover most, if not all, historical style baseball hats. (plus you can search them in order from 1869 onwards, check that out here.) I actually felt like I got a mini history lesson just from perusing there website. Case-in-point: I didn't know that the Braves franchise was first in Boston, then Milwaukee, then moved to the best city for the team– Atlanta
From left to right: 1908 Boston Braves, 1915 Boston Braves, 1934 Boston Braves, 1940 Boston Braves, 1946-1952 Boston Braves, 1953-1965 Milwaukee Brave, 1968 Atlanta Braves, 1974 Atlanta Braves, 1982 Atlanta Braves.
Read more of American Needle's history, and see some historical photos below –>
Founded in 1918 as an importer of sewing needles, American Needle has evolved over three generations into a world leader in headwear manufacturing.
Upon its inception as a family-owned business, the company quickly progressed into manufacturing headwear and millenary styles of all types. The factory, located on the North side of Chicago, hired skilled tailors, pattern makers, sewing machine operators and seamstresses. Their passion was for making new hat styles for new markets.
In 1946, the company approached the Chicago Cubs with the idea of selling fans baseball caps like the ones the players wore on the field. The Cubs agreed to the proposal, with the team’s ownership noting, “Who would want to buy the hats that the players are wearing?” The first run of Cubs hats sold out in one day and a second lot sold even faster. Based on these successes, the company would soon begin supplying caps to all Major League teams nationwide and years later, the NFL.
Today, American Needle is a third generation family business that continues to lead the industry with the design and manufacture of products that are admired by headwear connoisseurs around the world. American Needle holds licenses for major sports leagues and entertainment properties, as well as over 30 patents on design and manufacturing innovations.
Throughout the company’s nearly 100-year history, American Needle attributes its success to the company’s allegiance to its core principles of craftsmanship, leadership, individuality and heritage, while continually inventing dynamic new headwear concepts and expressions.