The 1980’s changed the fashion world by ditching bell-bottom jeans for jeans with holes in them. The Princess of Wales started a fashion trend after trend. The advent of the new music video showcased supermodels and clothing designers became household names. In 1980, the trucker cap was introduced and quickly became a fashion icon.
From the mid-1850s until approximately 1980, sports stars and farmers wore ball caps. Ball caps were solid pieces of material all the way around with no real ventilation in the back. Then feed stores and farmer’s supply companies started a new trend of handing out mesh-backed hats as a promotional item to truck drivers, farmers, and other patrons. These hats became known as trucker hats. Most started with the feed store or supply store logo. As popularity increased, so did the companies using these hats for promotion.
Beer companies, tractor manufacturers and soda distributors used these new style hats to sell products. The hats helped establish new marketing techniques. These companies were now designing and selling wholesale trucker mesh caps to the masses. Even musicians, such as Willie Nelson, wore trucker hats in lieu of his standard bandana. In the early 2000s, they could be seen on celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher. Women, like Paris Hilton, were even wearing them. They proved to be perfect for bad hair days and great for pulling ponytails through the back. As clothing became more casual, wearing a hat seemed to fit perfectly with workout clothing and other forms of outdoor wear. In more recent years, the trucker hat has become a political statement.
Many forms of pop culture have embraced the trucker hat. Outlets like television series have showcased them. King of the Hill was one such show. Music videos from hip hop to country music use them as part of their cultural landscape. Live music performances are another great place to see a variety of these hats as they are worn by the performers in outdoor and indoor venues.
These new trucker hats, or sometimes called feed caps, were perfect for a new and freer lifestyle. Most were one size fits all with a snapback closure. The mesh in the back of the hat allowed for a cooling effect in the summer. The bill kept the sun out of your eyes in the same way the baseball cap did. Die-hard baseball cap wearers did not easily accept this new trend. Many thought the only hat to wear had fabric all the way around. Mesh, they thought, cheapened the design.
Wholesale trucker mesh caps went from feed stores and flea markets to top-selling clothing outlets. Celebrities and truckers were wearing the same mesh-backed hats. The company Von Dutch, named for the man who became known as the “godfather of pinstriping,” became a favorite with musicians and other artistic groups. As these hats gained in popularity, so did the acceptance of this type of casual clothing to be worn just about anyplace.
What started off as a free promotional item became a big business. Using these hats as a way to show off a brand has become popular and, at times, can make a social statement. Today, wearers can pick and choose what ideals they want to express by picking out a hat that showcases their beliefs and the use of statements to increase awareness of different cultural issues. Some of the popularity has waned over the years, but they can still be seen today as a testament to their lasting appeal and memory to a different time.