Apparel Printing – For Your Head

Bringing indie design to the world of baseball hats.

Ball caps are funny things. Traditionally, they're utilitarian, keeping the sun out of our eyes when we play or work outside. As a fashion statement, they've evolved to the level of high art – if you're a sports fan. My dad has a collection of over 100, representing every pro sport, and all his favorite teams, and even players. Which is just great, for sports fans.

Unfortunately, if you're not a sports fan, but you still dig the style, your design choices are limited to vintage trucker, or ultra-trendy name brand. Many artists, graffiti artists in particular, often hand draw or paint designs onto blank caps, but the right style of blank cap can be hard to find.

All in all, ball cap style and design is a deeply personal, and sometimes even touchy issue. As web designer Matthew Carpenter points out on his blog: “getting a great baseball cap is a painful, tedious process.” And he's right, the question is, why?

Considering the options available in T-shirt printing, sweatshirt printing, and even skirts, dresses, and pants, you'd think more attention would be given to the stylistically significant ball cap. But perhaps because of industry domination by one company – New Era, which supplies all MLB teams – ball cap style has remained, pun intended, uniform.

There is the occasional online business offering custom ball caps that can be screen-printed or embroidered with a unique logo. At, runs as low as 144 units can be ordered. However, the company's marketing strategy hardly pegs it as a provider of printed apparel for design lovers.

Yup, cool screen-printed hats seemed like naught but a pipe-dream until recently, when the supercool folks at HatHead came to the rescue with a nicely designed site, and a great product pitch.

HatHead uses the same concept as Threadless to “Make Your Head Happy.” People submit designs for hats, we all vote on our favorites, and the best of the best get prizes and production.

And to top it all off, you can choose from six different ball cap styles for your design. All of this boils down to, ta-da! Ball caps for the design-conscious!

Hat-Head is creating the buzz today, but who knows? Maybe some day low-cost, full-color ball cap printing will be the norm at every printing house.

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