When Marcus Troy, the blogger behind the men's-wear site The Marcus Troy Experience, wanted to extend his online brand, he opted for an unusual first venture: He launched a line of baseball caps. Perhaps more surprising, though, was the response to the hats, which are embossed with Troy's three-triangle logo and launched in September: A great deal of demand came from women.
"Girls," he says over the phone from his home in Montreal, "have been hitting me up, asking, 'Hey, do you have small sizes?' I mean, [these are] high-fashion girls who wear Hermès and Balenciaga and Gucci and Prada. They want a [baseball] hat to complement that luxurious look."
Indeed, a perusal of any online street-style gallery from Style.com to Refinery29 supports Troy's claim: Invariably, the finery sported by many fashion plates these days will be topped with a casual ball or trucker cap. Look, too, to the fall 2012 runways, where design houses suchas Kenzo and Givenchy presented their own luxe versions (in Givenchy's pre-fall 2012 collection, they were made of fur).
"Certain trends or key items originate purely from the street – from blogs, from social-media interactions, from style sharing [among] friends and from musical influences, through which these items pick up momentum and go global," says Sarah Wilkinson, women's-wear design director for ASOS. "Our twentysomething [customer] is a huge part of this, being as much influenced by street style as any other form of media."
In the early 2000s, Ashton Kutcher singlehandedly popularized the trucker hat among young men, who adopted it both ironically and not. Now, Wilkinson says, the trend has been revived among women this season thanks to a new wave of recent celebrity endorsements.
Rihanna, who spearheaded the trend, is rarely seen without a baseball hat on her personal Instagram feed, while Beyoncé regularly sports a Brooklyn Nets cap to promote the team owned by her husband, Jay-Z.
Kim Kardashian, meanwhile, has been spotted in many a baseball hat, revealing what is perhaps her greatest talent: mastery of the zeitgeist-capturing photo op.
Of course, it wasn't so long ago that stars wore hats to keep themselves out of the spotlight. So how has something previously used to disguise become something with which to peacock? Amy Lu, a Toronto-based stylist and style expert for eBay.ca, suggests that a strategically worn baseball hat can serve as an effectively humanizing, appealingly low-maintenance counterpoint to super-stylized celebrity looks. (This would explain the ball cap's allure to Kardashian – and why it works so undeniably well on her.)
As evidence of a cap's symbolic value, Lu recalls Kutcher's first public date with Mila Kunis after his tumultuous separation from Demi Moore. "They went ... to a Dodgers game and she wore a Dodgers baseball cap and had her hair out looking long and cute," she says. "It was the perfect PR move. [Here was this] cute girl next door that he happens to be dating now."
Besides suggesting down-to-earth realness by donning a cap, Kunis also nailed how to wear one nowadays – unabashedly and with flair. While Wilkinson suggests wearing a worn, even ratty trucker to lend edge to a sophisticated look, Lu loves picking up on the sporty aspect by partnering one with a dressed-up jersey tee, a military jacket and a pair of leather leggings.
Troy, for his part, doesn't recommend that women wear caps bearing sports-team logos unless they're genuine fans. "If you're wearing a sports hat, I just wonder if you're really into these teams," he says.
In other words, it's okay to channel Derek Lam instead of Derek Jeter. At the moment, there are plenty of logo-free, black-leather caps to go around.