As cap collectors and enthusiasts, we’ve all felt compelled to hunt for that one special hat to add to our collections, for a variety of reasons. It could be that the cap we long for is important to us for sentimental reasons, or perhaps for bragging rights. It could be a favorite baseball team’s cap in a fresh colorway to match a pair of sneakers or even a hard-to-find cap, such as any hat in the elusive Star Wars New Era series. Whatever the reason may be, it’s no longer available on store shelves and it’s a must-have to top off our collections.
The quest to find that special cap will take us online, to stores and we might even extend our search to social communities. Many of us will go to great lengths and spend a lot of money to get that cap that we are looking for. It’s all worth it once we find it, but those feelings of jubilation can quickly turn sour if we realize that the coveted hat we now have in our possession is actually a FAKE, REPLICA, SHAM, PHONY, or an IMITATION of the cap we actually wanted. The fashion industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry that sees losses of 450 billion dollars due to counterfeit products. (1) Many fake products are being produced at a higher quality than in the past. Often counterfeits will often look exactly like the real product, down to the tags and packaging. At times, only a trained eye can distinguish between what is real and what is fake.
Douglas Clark, a lawyer, who specializes in intellectual property law in Hong Kong and China, says that counterfeiters have developed ingenious methods of escaping detection by rights holders and bodies of legal enforcement in the countries in which these products originate, such as China. The problems are compounded by the fact that many companies find it difficult to navigate the legal systems of foreign countries in order to fight the counterfeiters. (2)
No popular brand is immune to this problem – not even New Era Cap Co. Go to any flea market, eBay, or third party online hat retailer, and you will see that counterfeit New Era caps, among many other brands, are in circulation! So how do you know if what you are purchasing is the real deal? We at NECTalk are going to break down what you need to watch out for, so you can make sure that when you shop for a hat, you will hopefully be able to identify an authentic New Era product.
So you have a brand new hat in your hand and you’re wondering to yourself: is this a genuine New Era cap? Here are some points to look for so you can figure out whether a cap is real or fake.
The first thing to look at is the overall build and quality of the cap. New Era caps are high-quality products with good workmanship. So, if something just doesn’t seem right with the cap and the workmanship is poor, this should be your first indication that the product may be a fake. Remember, though, that this method is not foolproof, since some counterfeits can be of a very high quality.
A New Era cap will have tight stitching, with the top button of the cap centered with the seams. It should not have loose or crooked stitching or a top button that is off-center. The crown of the cap should be slightly raised and the visor on the cap should be flat. The crown should not be too low and the visor of the cap should not feel flimsy or be slightly bent. (3) The New Era logo on the side of the cap should be in the standard size – not too big or too small. Also, the New Era sticker on the cap should be smooth and stuck on the center of the brim.
Make sure that the hologram sticker is for the appropriate league of the team on the hat. For instance, if you have a New York Yankees cap, it should come with a Major League Baseball hologram sticker. Stickers that are not smooth, not applied well, or not from the corresponding league could be an indication that the cap is not authentic. The inside of the cap should have the appropriate tags stitched on straight. A Crooks & Castles hat for example should also have the brand’s tag stitched on the inside. Caps without tags inside, or tags that should not be in the hat, such as a MLB tag on a Supreme cap, is a dead giveaway that the product is a knock-off. If you are still not sure if the cap genuine, you can go to the Legit Check forums on the NECTalk website where other users will be able to help determine if the cap is an authentic product or a replica.
Another important factor in making sure you are buying real New Era products is the place where you shop for your caps. It is always best to stick to flagship locations but, since not all cities have a New Era shop, make sure that the retailer is authorized by New Era. If not, you need to be cautious about what you are purchasing. Although, of course, reputable retailers do have sales, keep in mind that no matter where you buy your hat – in a store or online – if the price is too good to be true, it most likely is. A further cautionary note is when shopping online at third party retailers, ensure that you know where the website originates from. Be especially careful if the website originates from certain countries, such as China or the Philippines.
eBay is a great way to search for a hard-to-find cap that you haven’t found anywhere else. At the same time, eBay is also the most risky place to buy a hat, as there are many counterfeit dealers operating on the website. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting an authentic product on eBay, courtesy of Nostra. Once again, check the price of the hat, and if it seems too cheap, it is probably a fake. The location of the seller is also important, as many counterfeit sellers originate from places such as Sweden and Hong Kong. Always check the users’ feed back. If they have a lot of negative feedback or have no replies on their negative comments, odds are they are selling counterfeit products. If you do find a hat you want on eBay and are willing to take the risk, make sure the seller sends you other pictures of the product with their eBay ID written next to the hat. Often, counterfeit sellers will steal images of the product from Google to use for their listing. Colorways of caps that have not been officially released are usually not authentic. If you are lucky enough to find a real one, these are samples and they should include a white tag on the inside that reads “sample” in red or black. (4) No matter where you are buying a cap from – store, website, or eBay – if you want greater assurance, check our Legit Check forums for a list of legitimate retailers, where you can also read about other people’s experiences with websites and eBay sellers.
So, what can we, as consumers, do to make sure we do not support the counterfeit industry? Clark believes that: “Employees of a company need to understand there is no good counterfeiting. Buying counterfeits of any type perpetuates the industry and sends a wrong message to the authorities and companies’ commitment to fight counterfeiting. All companies serious about tackling counterfeiting should not tolerate the purchase of counterfeit products, even for personal use.” (5) We at NECtalk agree strongly with this statement. It is illegal to knowingly purchase a fake cap, or any counterfeit product, as this supports an illegal industry that infringes on the intellectual property rights of companies and also steals money from both companies and consumers. We understand that it is not always easy to figure out if a product is legitimate, but using this article as a guide will help expand your Capacity to determine if the cap you are rockin’ is an authentic New Era hat. As supporters of New Era products, we all know it is important to “fly your own flag”, and not some cheap imitation knock-off.
(1) “How to Spot a Fake Fendi Designer Handbag.” http://www.xdesignerhandbags.com/replica-designer-handbags/how-to-spot-a-fake-fendi-designer-handbag/
(2) Clark, Douglas. “Fighting Counterfeiting in Asia.” http://www.jurisdiction.com/lovells.pdf
(3)New Era Cap Talk. http://www.neweracaptalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=86&start=0http://reviews.ebay.ca/IDENTIFYING-FAKE-NEW-ERAS-FITTED-HATS-amp-CAPS-ON-EBAY?ugid=10000000005757070
(4) “Identifying Fake New Era Fitted Hats.” http://reviews.ebay.ca/IDENTIFYING-FAKE-NEW-ERAS-FITTED-HATS-amp-CAPS-ON-EBAY?ugid=10000000005757070
(5) Clark, Douglas. “Fighting Counterfeiting in Asia.” http://www.jurisdiction.com/lovells.pdf