Like denim, baseball’s long history has been culturally significant for over a century with its iconic players, nickname as “America’s Pastime”, and the introduction of the baseball cap which is common across all styles around the world.
As men’s styles shifted towards a more heritage “American Workwear” aesthetic, we’ve seen an increasing popularity with vintage sports related apparel, especially ballcaps. While many brands have hats as part of their collections, the brand leading the way with hand-made caps, jerseys, and jackets for the last couple of decades has been Seattle’s, Ebbets Field Flannels.
Ebbets Field Flannels, named after the now gone stadium in Brooklyn, began in the late 1980s after owner Jerry Cohen decided he wasn’t satisfied with the quality of jerseys on the market so he took to making his own.
It started humbly in the dining room of an apartment with co-founder Lisa Cooper, but as word spread about what they were doing, their orders gradually picked up to grow from a side project to a fully-fledged business.
Sports Illustrated eventually caught wind and ran a story about the brand, thrusting their work into the limelight. Fast forward to today, Ebbets Field Flannels has grown from a small operation of two to a slightly larger one of 15-20 people that has products all over the world, countless collaborations with respected brands, and most recently, the opportunity to make the uniforms for the major feature film, 42.
Even with all the growth and increase in demand, the Ebbets team still fully commit to making each product the old way: one at a time, slowly, and with careful attention to detail.
Cohen and his team insist on thorough R&D on their designs and don’t shy away from using a bit of imagination when information and photos are scarce. Their reproductions yield some truly unique designs, which call upon an older era but have been updated to fit modern styles.
But getting the designs right is only half the battle–sourcing the era appropriate fabrics for caps and jerseys can be even more difficult than in the denim world. Deadstock fabrics have become increasingly harder to find, so they’ll often go straight to the manufacturers of the original textiles to get them. It’s a slower, more labor-intensive process but that’s what sets Ebbets apart and it’s been crucial to maintain a customer base that’s become accustomed to a higher standard of quality.
Even with all the attention to detail and period-appropriate fabrics, an Ebbets cap won’t set you back too much, with most caps under $50.
One of the biggest advantages of Ebbets’s small-scale operation is their nimble production cycle, which allows them to make many small runs of limited releases. It’s an ability that they’ve taken full advantage of as brands have reached out to them to make custom hats for them.
It’s practically a standard nowadays for both upcoming and established brands to have an Ebbets collab hat, something that’s no doubt helped increase awareness of the brand as well as grow their customer base around the world.
Despite the endless stream of collabs, new apparel, and repro hats each season, they show no signs of slowing down. Over the next couple seasons, they’ve planned several releases including a NYC MTA collection based on historical artwork and photography that’s been in development for over a year as well as a collection inspired by Red Ball Gum mini-pennants from the mid-1930s.