Caps have a vast and varied history, and the materials they are made out of can say a lot about their structure, quality and style.
Not only that, but the choice of materials used in caps is crucial to their performance. Headwear manufacturers are meticulous in how they select their materials, making sure they find the optimum balance between aesthetics and practicality. Those at the apex of the industry are always looking for new blends and substances that can be used to give their accessories the edge in this fast-paced, competitive market.
If you’ve ever looked at caps and wondered specifically what they’re made of, here is a look at some of the materials most commonly used in their manufacture.
Wool might be a material you would most associate with knitted hats, but for a long portion of time, it was the main fabric used in the caps on the heads of major and minor league baseball players.
Indeed, solid-coloured wool remains one of the most commonly used materials for cap manufacture today. Often, the crown of the cap is made from a blend of wool, making it soft, comfortable and high-performing.
Recent years have seen polyester often replace wool as the primary component of baseball caps. It’s a diverse and useful material used extensively in a range of clothing items.
Polyester is an excellent material for cushioning and insulation. It also tends to be stretchable, making it well suited for use in hat manufacture, where caps such as the Flexfit 110 cap and Flexfit 210 Snapback are designed to fit a range of head sizes.
Cotton is frequently the substance of choice for the embroidered logos and designs you see on caps, and is also often used to form the sweatband. However, it is possible to find caps that are 100% cotton.
It’s an excellent material to use in a cap, seeing as it is a soft and breathable fabric – two qualities of high importance to the hat wearer who is looking to feel cool and comfortable while donning a cap throughout the day.
Rubber is not a primary component of caps, but it has started to become increasingly used in keeping with stretch-fit technology. With the material being flexible and hardwearing, it offers the qualities needed to make hats fit various head sizes and stay snug and secure.
Lycra can be used as an alternative to rubber in stretch-fit technology, and is usually a more strong and durable option. The substance is often used for tight-fitted clothing worn in sports like basketball and volleyball, and this skin-tight quality makes it an excellent substance for a sweatband too.
Nylon is sometimes used in the crown of a cap, and has the added quality of offering some degree of water resistance.
The material is often used in unstructured caps such as ‘dad hats’, as it is too soft to form the framework of a tight-fitting cap, yet benefits from a comfortable feel and an impressive, glossy appearance.
Commonly used to strengthen the visor of caps, buckram is a stiff form of cloth that can be either shiny or dull, but is usually covered up by the outer layer of the cap. Traditionally, it was made from linen or even horse hair, but today’s buckram is usually made of cotton.
In hat making, buckram usually has starch added to it and is then softened in water. This allows it to harden into the desired shape.
This one might surprise you, but the inclusion of wood in some caps is an example of how the headwear industry is always embracing new ideas and not ruling out unconventional possibilities.
An entire cap made out wood would obviously not be possible as the material is too hard, but some cap collectors have had their interest drawn to caps with wooden peaks. The wood used is similar to that you would find on the fingerboard of guitars and gives caps a classy and altogether different finish.
Making the most of materials
Really, for caps to be truly inventive and to keep pushing the boundaries of the sector, manufacturers have to be aware of the potential of all kinds of materials to play a role in the headwear items they create. The only limit should be the imagination, and the integration of materials like wood shows how those in the industry should not be afraid to think outside of the box.
At the same time, the above substances should not be thought of as raw materials that are there to simply piece caps together with. Innovative engineers should be looking to create optimum blends and ensure the material they use can keep getting better and better.
At Flexfit, we are always looking to expand beyond the average, everyday materials from which caps are made. Substances like our ultrafibre use a special blend of fabrics to achieve water and wind resistant properties and also allow perspiration vapour to escape from under the cap. Our technologies are engineered to ensure our caps function like no others, putting them a class above the regular off-the-shelf cap.
Another example is the Permacurve peak, which is a development on the ordinary visor in that it allows you to curve or adjust it repeatedly without damaging the shape of the cap. It’s not just everyday buckram that gives it its strong and adjustable nature, but a patented synthetic material unique to Flexfit caps.
It’s certainly important that we never forget the materials that form the basic building blocks of caps, but we always need to be asking ourselves what we can do differently and how we can make headwear better. If we did not have this drive to create the ultimate caps in the industry, it would mean that cutting-edge, sector-leading products like the Flexfit Delta cap would be merely a pipe dream, rather than the reality they are.
To find out more about the materials we use and the technology that goes into them, take a look at our Technology page.