Trucker hats. Standing tall, proud, and with the utmost of convenience, they're the epitome of hard-working Americans. Although stemming from the infamous baseball cap, they can certainly stand their own ground in this crowded fashion industry.
Despite originating as a worker's accessory and being their first port of call when it comes to combatting sunshine and sweat, trucker hats have made a remarkable transformation from class to class. Now adopted by high end designers, this style of cap has certainly made its mark on worldwide fashion. In this article, we'll delve a little deeper into why that is. So, strap yourselves in and enjoy this whistle stop tour of the trucker hat.
The 1960s and 1970s
It's 1960s America. Blood, sweat and tears are being shed, and the rate of production is like no other. Hard-working Americans plough away on farms and the like, whilst drivers and their trucks crawl down the highways. It's an environment brimming with petrol stations, cigarettes and hats. Yes, hats.
Hats were an important part of a working uniform, and back then, many workers tended to sport mechanic caps. These looked a little like baseball caps, made of cotton and featuring the standard curved bill at the front. They boasted the logo of the business on this bill, and were a fantastic way of getting the company's name out into the open. However, despite serving their purpose well, they were expensive to produce and clammy to wear. Something had to change. And so, out went the mechanic caps, and in came the trucker hats.
Upon their arrival, trucker hats weren't exactly viewed as something revolutionary. At least, the workers who religiously wore them would have no idea just how popular they'd become further on down the line. They had a slightly curved bill at the front, with six triangular-shaped panels composing its main structure. And, they were finished with an all-important button on top. What's more, the front section of these trucker hats was made out of foam, and a plastic mesh covered their backs. Below, we'll explore just how useful these factors were.
The 1980s and 1990s
As time went on, the trucker hat gained more popularity within the working industries. It was now recognized as a hat in its own right. Its foam material rendered it inexpensive and cheap to produce, which, of course, was a huge advantage to companies across the country. They were able to mass produce promotional products in a way they'd never been able to before. Mugs, key rings and bracelets just didn't make the cut anymore when it came to marketing.
Workers found many practical advantages of this hat, too. Its plastic mesh backing was ideal for good breathability, meaning they could keep cool, calm and collected despite their heavy perspiration. The hats also came with snap closures at the back, which although were easy to manufacture, ensured one size could fit all. This was perfect! They were dished out to everyone and anyone at truck stops, and were convenient due to their ability to be adjusted to any head shape. Trucker hats were also favored for their protection from the sun, and along with their good breathability, were ideal for strenuous work.
This new accessory was very prominent in the whole outdoor trend. They were given out as promotional giveaways from feed stores and farming supply companies - the logo of one particular company was plastered across the front in bright, beautiful colors, and its tall structure meant that anyone, (and literally, anyone), could see it from a mile off. Companies such as John Deere, Budweiser and Chevy produced trucker hats frequently, and even to this day, their old merchandise is seen all over the world, perhaps taking prime position in vintage stores.
They were handed to truck drivers, farm drivers and practically everyone who'd take them. And, who wouldn't want to? These hats were and still are symbols of hard work, and they epitomized everything Americans strive to be; determined, passionate and relentless. They were worn by working people and men on the move, and came along with a certain stereotype.
And so, it became rather common to see a trucker hat as part of a rural worker's uniform. In traffic jams, your view would never be short of hundreds of little colored heads sat in their vehicles - you'd see them everywhere! It appeared this would be the case for years to follow.
Now, let's talk a little about the next century.
As we progressed towards the early 2000s, hard labor was becoming less and less. With media taking more of a stance within society, celebrities started to pick up on the trucker hat trend. And, as with every case of trend-following that stardom drags along with it, their followers did the same. Stars such as Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake are just a few examples of this. They could be seen wearing trucker hats, whether that be during photo shoots or television interviews. This led to an increase in interest, and people would buy trucker hats either because they personally liked them, or just because their idol did!
As popularity sparked, important fashion designers recognized this and adopted the idea, too. And, within no time at all, trucker hats had been welcomed into a whole new realm of fashion. This transition from working class to high end fashion was a startling transformation. Although featuring in magazine editorials and gracing the runways, (if the word 'grace' can be used in this sense), the working class still owned their trucker hats. After all, no one could take away its origin!
Truck drivers and farmers continued to wear them and companies dished them out for promotional reasons. Nothing changed in that respect. They did, however, meet a wide range of ages - the young generation had a brief encounter with this style of hat. It wouldn't be a rare sight to see the suburban youth swaggering down the streets whilst wearing them, most probably paired with ripped jeans and the like.
So, what happened next?
Even as the years went on, there was no sign of the trucker hat fading from fashion's grasp. This time, however, it was led towards a different aspect of style, where vintage pieces and blasts from the past were worshipped more than ever. This 'hipster' phase can be characterized by celebrities such as Pharrell Williams, who is no stranger to a trucker hat! This trend also dipped its metaphorical toe into the waters of hip hop. Think throwback Avril Lavigne, beaded necklaces and the skater boy subculture.
So, where exactly is the trucker hat right now?
Although not as important a fashion trend as they perhaps were a decade ago, trucker hats still have a vague presence in today's society. This is thanks to celebrities, once again. Celebs have a startling influence on their following; they always have done and always will do. If somebody with a high following promotes a trucker hat, it wouldn't be surprising to see a spike in sales soon after. And, this pattern has been noticed before.
In February 2016, for example, Justin Bieber performed at the Grammy Awards whilst wearing a simple black trucker hat. As you can imagine, this caused many to rush and buy the same accessory. Kylie Jenner has also caused this type of chain reaction. After uploading some photographs of her wearing a $39 Von Dutch Trucker Hat, it completely sold out in only one month! What's more, 25% of the other trucker hats featured on the website sold out, too!
The generation of today are extremely impressionable, and that's undeniable. They're looking for trends to follow, whether they be modern and fresh, or sparks reignited from the past. Who knows? There might just be another wave of trucker hat popularity within the next decade.
Trucker hats are continually used for giveaways and promotions, featuring things such as logos, words, embellishments, bling, custom designs and humorous phrases.
We'll always see trucker hats cropping in the picture, even in contexts which may initially seem odd. Donald Trump, for example, used red 'Make America Great Again' trucker hats in his presidential campaign. Perhaps ‘The Donald’ was displaying marketing savvy with a hat-tip to a key voting demographic.
So, what can be taken away from this article?
All in all, trucker hats are popular for their breathable plastic mesh and cheap foam bill. They were formerly used for promotional means, being given out to truck drivers and farmers at truck stops. However, they gradually incorporated their way into mainstream society, being shown off by celebrities and fashion designers who recognized their importance. The youth, too, took a shine to trucker hats, and during the past decade, both the hipster and skater boy cultures have claimed this style for their own. Trucker hats are a symbol of hard-work, effort and determination, and this is one of the reasons they're still so popular even today. They're also convenient to wear, providing some protection from both the sun and sweat. Celebrities have a marvelous ability to set trends and bring back vintage items into fashion, so it's likely trucker hats will never be too far away!