The Pink Hats are Taking Over, Part III

BD_pinkhat.jpgBy now, the phenomenon of the Pink Hats has been pretty much broken down, analyzed and dissected with a micro-laser beam. But one key component has been largely overlooked: the pink hat itself. Jason Schwartz breaks it down.

Casual fans have been going to Fenway Park for years. They just haven’t always been so easily identifiable by their headwear. We have Twins Enterprises, the proprietors of the giant souvenir store on Yawkey Way, to thank for that.

In the mid-90s, ballcap makers started rolling out alternate color hats, but the trend never really picked up with females. Part of the problem, according to Twins VP Steven D’Angelo, was the available hat designs. Back then, you could pretty much buy a replica of what the players were wearing on the field (an 100 percent wool model) or a cotton-twill blend. Both had puffed out fronts and somewhat boxy structures, making them less than popular with the ladies.

“The silhouette is not a feminine silhouette,” D’Angelo said of those caps.

Then about 10 years ago, Twins teamed up with Lids (a chain of hat stores) to design a 100 percent cotton distressed model. It’s softer, more comfortable and non-structured, thus solving the puffy hat front problem.

Called “The Franchise,” it’s not only become Twins’ top seller on Yawkey Way, but across the country. They produce them wholesale for a vast array of pro sports and college teams, so chances are you could walk into just about any big sports store in the country and find one. “We became a much bigger player in the retail business,” D’Angelo said.

The local business success story aside, while D’Angelo credits the outburst of Pink Hatters mainly to the Sox’ recent success (the design was around for several years before 2003, after all), he says there would be no such thing as a pink hatter if not for the Franchise design. The Franchise, then, may not have caused Pink Hat-ism, but it’s certainly facilitated it.

“Curved visor, it’s a softer fit, it’s a relaxed fit…It caters more to women I think,” he said, adding that it also helps that it’s available in an adjustable model, always more popular with women who want to slide their ponytails through the back.

Take heart, traditionalists. According to D’Angelo, the pink hat is slowly going out of style. It’s a simple matter of fashion cycle, as he noted brown and lavender Sox hats are eating into the pink market share. Next week: a three part Boston Daily series on Lavender Hatters. (ed. note: Kidding, just kidding).