As any wannabe sartorialist or religious fashion follower knows, the fashion seasons work in advance – so when we have blue skies and sun aplenty outside, fashion designers have already set their sights on what wares they can create and peddle come the winter months. Recently, I have decided to imitate the fashion greats and launch a series of articles detailing the upcoming trends and themes for autumn/winter 2012.
However, fear not, these articles are designed to showcase upcoming trends with a spring/summer 2012 twist – so you can start getting involved ahead of the trend and become the forward-thinking fashion visionaries you really are. Next on the fashion agenda is a surprising menswear accessory trend which proves to be making a comeback and will inevitably split opinion; the resurgence of the baseball cap.
Now I am surprised as anyone to find myself writing about an accessory which you wouldn’t typically expect to see on any high fashion catwalk, but it seems designers are out to throw a sartorial curve ball by bringing back the concept of the baseball cap for AW12 and applying it to a more refined, adult audience.
At the various global Fashion Weeks for AW12, designers such as DKNY, Acne and Woolrich Woolen Mills all featured baseball caps in their catwalk collections. My absolute favourite show that featured the baseball cap as an anchor accessory was by Dior Homme in Paris. Kris Van Assche’s collection clearly had a strong military influence, complete with a tinge of streetwear and a nuance of sportswear – which is where the baseball caps played their role.
Every single model walking down the catwalk was wearing a baseball cap in either white, pale stone, or (my favourite) beautiful officer’s olive green, which truly shows that the baseball cap represented the anchor piece for this collection. The combination of the caps with more traditional suiting and tailored pieces worked well to create an effective contrast, with Van Assche also opting for suiting with wide leg trousers rather than traditional slim fits – cleverly echoing the streetwear influence:
Alexander Wang was another supporter of the baseball cap and used it to give his collection a more casual look than at Dior. The influences for the collection were clearly from urban street culture and in fact, Wang’s lookbook model is a genuine skater who was cast from the street, which gives the collection a touch of urban authenticity.
The baseball caps presented came in colours of black, grey and camel, with several of the caps utilising dual fabrics in different tones, offering a stylish contrast. Paired with relaxed trousers, sports jackets and backpacks in sombre, dark colours and hard-wearing fabrics such as leather and neoprene – the ‘street’ and ‘sports’ influences were evident:
One other designer collection which deserves a mention is Lanvin. They took the premise of the baseball cap a step further by featuring a much more rounded shape – almost reminiscent of a jockey’s cap – that added an interesting twist on the traditional baseball cap silhouette.
Lanvin also featured caps with embellishments, such as a faux fur effect on the cap’s peak, and rather than sticking to block colours, some of their caps featured use of pattern. I think the caps by Dior and Wang would have more of a mass appeal to the public, but credit to Lanvin for reinventing the typical baseball cap and giving it an artistic and eye-catching twist:
Baseball caps have also featured prominently in the fashion press and on the high street. The recent AW12 Givenchy lookbook by Riccardo Tisci placed a huge emphasis on utilitarian outerwear, which was paired with American sportswear as well as tailored pieces.
At the centre of all of this, the baseball cap was the accessory of choice and featured in leather, denim and even shearling to add an intriguing textural feel. The models wore the caps in an old school, backwards manner in the images, adding to the youthful vibe, sentiment of listlessness and devil-may-care attitude. All photos were shot outdoors, on the street, creating a true feeling of youthful abandon:
I am certain there are people reading this thinking I am mad for writing about an accessory which has no place in serious sartorial circles. In fact, Askmen.com recently featured an article entitled ‘Clothes Big Boys Don’t Wear’, which condemned the baseball cap as conveying an adolescent attitude.
I suppose this depends on your outlook – some would argue that a baseball cap is a scruffy, childish option whereas others (such as myself) may feel that a touch of youthful abandon, if applied correctly to an outfit, could be a positive thing. The images from the Dior Homme collection clearly demonstrate this.
For the sake of balance, in the same article, Askmen.com were also condemning the backpack as something only worn by children and the sartorially clueless. If we consider the recent backpack revival in both high fashion and high street, maybe the popularity of the baseball cap isn’t such a taboo consideration.
I think that if the resurgence of the baseball cap is to have any longevity, it is important to look at the colours and tones featured in the designer collections. When we talk about baseball caps in this context – we are not talking about traditional trucker caps in primary colours with slogans emblazoned across them – we are considering a more polished, refined baseball cap design in much more subtle, monotone colours.
As GQ USA wrote following the AW12 designer collections: “Sleek, solid, with a dose of military edge, the dark baseball cap is emerging as a must-have for Fall 2012.” As contentious as the baseball cap may be, it is definitely an accessory to watch over the coming months.
If we want to get ahead of the fashion-following crowds and start supporting this trend a little bit early, baseball caps work perfectly with the current sportswear aesthetic and fit seamlessly into SS12, if worn correctly. I think the key is to not try and go too ‘street’ – maybe stick to slim fit rather than baggy jeans/chinos, and blouson jackets for a subtle sports influence.
Although I personally think we should follow the example of the high fashion designers and opt for muted, block coloured versions in darker shades, I am sure there are those of you out there who would prefer to add a bit of colour and pattern (much like the lookbook above). High street shops such as Topman and online retailers such as ASOS currently have a wide range of baseball caps in patterned fabrics, enabling you to show your support for the major menswear trend of 2012.
ASOS recently featured patterned baseball cap as a key trend for SS12 in one of their regular newsletters and they have a wide range of patterns to choose from – including paisley, camouflage, Aztec and even a cheetah print. For those of you more comfortable with the more sombre tones, Topman are currently stocking a tasteful grey tweed baseball cap along with a navy corduroy option.
I am certain the baseball cap is an accessory choice which will inevitably polarise opinion. However, there is no denying that it was a heavy feature at the AW12 designer shows and being readily available on the high street already shows that there must be a market somewhere.
In my opinion, baseball caps offer a contemporary and youthful vibe for a more edgy look. In particular, the combination of baseball caps with smarter, tailored pieces offers an excellent and interesting contrast to any outfit. Based on the SS13 collection previews from designers such as Richard Nicoll, it seems this trend may also have some longevity.
But what do you guys out there think? As always, we want to hear from you. Do you believe the baseball cap can have an impact this AW12? Is it possible to wear a baseball cap at any other event than a sporting one, or should it remain a sports-only relic?
Let us know in the comments section below…