Sticker Stupidity: My Made Up, But Plausible History of Leaving Stickers on Cap Brims

I am not a fashionable person. I was wearing flannel before, during and twenty years after the grunge movement of the early 1990s.  I wear New Balance sneakers and sweatpants a majority of the week.  I buy my suits at Jos. A Bank (how can you beat “buy 1, get 47” free sales?).  But sometimes things are so awful that even my primitive fashion sense is offended.  One thing that has been number for many years on my “fashion items I hate” are babydoll dresses, or as I refer to them “FUPA” covering dresses.   The most misleading item in fashion basically begin at the end of a woman’s breasts and then finish at the conclusion of the woman’s flaws or bloating, depending on whether she is on a permanent or 4 day expansion, respectively.   For several years this Trojan Horse of fashion has been my least favorite item of clothing, but over the last couple years it has been bumped out of the #1 spot buy New Era baseball caps with stickers on the brims.

I own a New Era baseball cap.  It is a Yankee fitted (the game version, not one of the 477 varieties of Yankee caps that have been released – you know so that you have a specific Yankee fitted hat for every holiday from 4th of July to St Patrick’s Day to Arbor Day) and I have owned it for several years.  It is broken in and lacks any price tags or stickers because I am not a fu*king moron.

I do not know the day the trend of leaving stickers on a cap began but I know it has emerged in the last couple of years.  Here are the many different explanations I have seen on-line:

  • Emulating athletes who receive brand new caps on draft day
  • Maintaining a “fresh” cap to symbolize the freshness of the person wearing it
  • Wearing the sticker to pretend that you have so much money that you don’t care

One explanation that a friend of mine had offered, not by way of knowledge, but just hypothesis, was that maybe it started as an act of civil disobedience.  Since it is a trend that began among black people, the idea was that with mall security and store employees discriminating against black youth in stores (questioning, following around suspiciously, etc.) keeping the sticker on after purchasing would act as a deterrent to being questioned, or would at least make people who are eyeing young black men suspiciously could be made to look foolish.  I thought this would be a great reason… if it were at all true.  However, I could find no evidence that this fashion AIDS has any root in civil disobedience.  Sorry, but when you look at Martin Luther King Jr.’s brim in any old photos you will not see a tag or sticker still on it.

Another explanation that I have pondered, (and at the risk of accidentally stealing material, I think comedian Yannis Pappas may have said this before I did in my presence at his show in Brooklyn), is that black people were simply doing the dumbest thing they could think of and seeing if white people would still steal/copy it. (If Yannis tells me he did not say this, consider it a new joke of mine).

But assuming none of these are true, all I can think is that this trend started out of sheer stupidity.  It is this generation’s pet rock.  But it is also evidence of the power black people have on influencing our culture.  Enough talk about “Girls” on HBO, black people can take some (non-compensated) comfort that they still disproportionately influence the culture (and in most cases is good, but not in this one).  Here’s is my brief, informal history of the sticker-on-brim phenomenon across racial lines:

  • Black youth start wearing stickers on their brims for some unexplained or unjustifiable reason
  • Latinos, as with the N word, quickly begin using it  as well to get grandfathered in when the race war begins
  • White people resist and mock
  • White people begin to actually market stickers and the hats now have bigger and more ornate stickers KNOWING that people will not leave the sticker on the hat (perhaps googly eyes or scratch n sniff are next)
  • Dumb white teens begin doing it, as evidenced by J-L Cauvin seeing no less than 7 white youths wearing stickered brims at the Yankee Game on April 27, 2012 (and only 2 were Guido-types!)

There you have it – white people stole blacks from Africa, stole their music for Elvis and stole golf back from Tiger Woods.  But now they have tipped their hand too much.  It is now clear that white people will try to copy any trend from black people no matter how dumb.  Just three years after a black man got the Presidency, a white dude is trying to take it back, despite clearly being an awful job.  But the brim sticker phenomenon is inexcusable.  No one can offer a legitimate explanation for why people do it and the people who do it refuse to acknowledge that it is absurdly dumb looking.  So shame on you black people for starting a stupid trend and shame on you Latinos and white for copying it.

But thank you Jeremy Lin for not doing it. Yet.