The snapback is as street and urban as it gets. That brim left unbent is a stark symbol of hip hop and youth fashion in many cities gave birth to the fashion statement, such as New York and LA.
Having come a long way and taking on multiple forms, how did the snapback hat trend start and manage to stay fresh all the way through?
The Baseball Cap Reimagined
The snapback’s predecessor, the baseball cap, must be proud of its stylish spawn. Compared to fitted baseball caps worn by pro players, snapback are less expensive and much more attuned to contemporary urban culture.
But earliest versions of the snapback had been around since the late 1800s, marked by the use of non-uniform hats during baseball games. The Brooklyn Excelsiors wore the baseball cap as we know it today starting the 1849 season, and the rest is history for fitted caps and their irreverent modern-day kin.
Blame Pop Culture
Music groups in the late 1980s to the 1990s were quick to adopt the style: N.W.A to stand for the LA suburb of Compton in the West Coast, and groups like Mobb Deep that stitched on those NY boroughs – think Queens and Brooklyn – to profess their loyalty to the East Coast.
Icons such as Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube – to cite a few hip hop and rap legends – made the snapback a prominent fixture in their music videos, concerts, and even movies such as Poetic Justice.
Sports played a key role in snapback history, too. Sports superstars and personalities wearing their snapback on TV were never in short supply, whether they’re in the actual game or on the sidelines. Who can forget Michael Jordan donning the Gatorade snapback for some post-game chat when his career-defining shot beat the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals?
Athletic team hats have taken on many forms through the years, from fitted to crushed to mesh-back. But there remain sparse details on the origins of the snapback and its recent surge, although the perpetually ceremonial hat – flat-billed and all – handed out to major championship players are telling of things to come for the snapback.
Keeping It Fresh
You can count on pop culture to resurrect the snapback style after its hiatus. Artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West keep the style hot and fresh in the music scene, while Mac Miller even devoted whole song to the hat: “Used to wear baggy clothes / now my clothes tailored / Used to wear a fitted cap / now I rock a snapback.”
The lyrics themselves represent a clear transition: from those baggy jeans and fitted hats to sleek, expensive clothing and snapback hats. True enough, it’s a never-ending revolution.
Today snapbacks remain a prominent feature of streetwear style, whether they be blockhead snapbacks, 90s snapbacks, NFL snapbacks, and those other sought-after forms. This popularity even cuts across age and groups now, showing just how far that iconic that unbent brim can go.