The classic, Baldwin-style KC hat is back in the game — boasting a newly drafted team of makers and a modern twist on its otherwise traditional look, Sandlot Goods announced.
“With most major hat manufacturers moving their production overseas, there is a space and a need for a classic, American-made ball cap,” said Chad Hickman, founder of Sandlot Goods, describing the cap’s return to production.
Part of a sizable hat-making operation launched over the past few months within the Sandlot Goods product lineup, it’s believed to be the only truly Kansas City-made hat currently in production.
“I’m a hat wearer, always have been, so the dream of making hats came naturally to me,” Hickman said. “We’ll start with a casual wool leather strap back with the hope of someday making an on-field hat worthy of the MLB.”
The all-wool, 1950s-era hats — previously designed by Kansas City-based Baldwin Denim — were manufactured through Ebbets Field Flannels in the early 2010s, added Adam Pfeifer, a leader on the Sandlot project and former Baldwin employee.
“At one point, the KC hats were so popular that Baldwin was one of Ebbets’ Field Flannels biggest wholesale accounts — up there with J.Crew, if that tells you anything,” Pfeifer said, adding Baldwin was committed to American-made manufacturing and worked with Ebbets until Baldwin folded operations in March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click here to learn more about the origins and focus of Sandlot Goods.
The hats debuted on shelves inside Made in KC stores this week, Hickman added, noting the company and Sandlot have become almost synonymous in recent years.
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“We share a lot of resources like human capital and strategic resources, so to be able to work alongside those guys to help make sure this is a successful endeavor is a really important part of the process,” he said.
“[The Baldwin-style hat] is definitely an iconic Kansas City mark and design,” Hickman continued. “To add another layer to that, where it’s actually made by people in Kansas City, is a really cool thing and that definitely gives us a reason to revisit it.”
Rebooting the design involved a bit of homework and a show of creative respect, he continued, detailing Sandlot and Made in KC’s close work with Baldwin’s legal team — which had no grounds to dismiss the effort, the companies said in a release.
“Sandlot is excited to build upon the legacy of an iconic KC branded product, and will add multiple unique design elements that are only possible through owning the entire manufacturing process,” the release said.
Sandlot’s team of 25 makers embarked on a rigorous regimen of tutorials as they acquired necessary equipment to make the hats, a 25-step process that transforms rolls of wool felt into the stylish, highly-desired caps, Hickman said, noting the effort could be just the beginning of a larger push for 100 percent, Kansas City-crafted goods.
“It’s no secret that we have a big entrepreneurial community here. People want to support local business and I think [this is] going to be really nice for the city,” he said.
Click here to read more about Made in KC’s commitment to small businesses and what its doing to raise the profile of their economic impact.
“Our hope is that we can work with a lot of those different companies and make all of the staple pieces that people look to and think of in [hard to produce categories] and actually make them here in town,” Hickman said. “I think that would be a really special thing.”