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January/February
2024
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TEAM HEADWEAR
Hats Off...and On
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Team dealers are still struggling to find some predictability in the cap business. Photo: Richardson Cap
The team cap market has undergone a lot of changes in the past few years. Whether that was a result of supply chain issues, inventory challenges or changes in ordering trends, team dealers have experienced difficulty predicting the market for teams.
And although many of 2023’s challenges have lessened a bit this year, team dealers are still struggling to find the same level of predictability they once saw before COVID-19. As teams experience shifts between coaching, budgets and a stronger sense of individuality among athletes, team dealers are bracing themselves for new headaches in 2024.

Take, for example, Jeff Covington, owner of Sports Spectrum, Chattanooga, TN, who simply says: “Our cap sales are all over the board.”

So even though hats are an essential part of any baseball uniform, which style players gravitate towards may change depending on team or player preference. That’s what makes projecting future sales so tricky for team dealers.Thankfully, one style trend that’s remained constant over the past few years is trucker hats for school and travel teams.

“Snapback and fitted trucker mesh hats remain a hot item, especially paired with leather and woven patches,” says Dan Cordi, owner of Zappia Athletics, Vestal, NY, adding that unstructured, distressed crowns are often requested. Perforated hats have been a popular on-field option.

Still Popular on the Diamond: Tradition

That’s not to say that teams have ditched the stereotypical baseball cap altogether. Other dealers report that they place orders for trucker hats, but still see teams gravitating towards more classic styles as well.“Trucker hats are trendy for travel because they are cool and comfortable,” says Covington. “School teams tend to wear traditional, classic hats.”Like the teams near Chattanooga, Massachusetts-based teams are also not totally in favor of the trucker style.

“Not everyone loves the trucker hat,” reports Betsy Frey, owner of Holyoke Sporting Goods, Holyoke MA, who notes that many of the school teams in her region are still gravitating towards the traditional baseball cap.

As for softball, teams are sticking to their traditional visors, although some dealers are fulfilling less softball orders than others. “We have seen a small resurgence in softball requests. Otherwise, we do not sell many visors,” reports Cordi. “Visors are popular for our softball teams,” says Frey.However in California, the market seems to be more tricky, as inventory trends have not persisted over the years.

“Things are always changing. Inventory we sold a few years ago we aren’t selling now,” says Ryan Nan, manager at Yours & Mine Sports, Modesto, CA. “Everything is becoming more customized because athletes want to have their own look and style,” says Nan.

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