It was an honor to connect with Joe Lamantia a.k.a Chicago Joe because he knows whats up when it comes to New Era hats. As you can see from the pictures his collection has no limits. Collecting all his favorite local professional teams, superhero, branded and any lifestyle cap release you can think of, is most likely a part of his collection. You dont want to miss what Chicago Joe has to say after the jump. Seriously!! What’s on your mind? Want to show off your collection – hit us up at email@example.com.
When did you start collecting and how did it all start?
Well, I’ve been wearing caps ever since I was a shorty. Back then my only option was the snapbacks with the hard plastic in the back that would dig into your head. By the time I got to high school in the late 90s (dating myself i know) I was starting to buy fitteds as a consumer. My collecting really started though around 04-05 when i started wanting more caps to color coordinate with my sneakers.
Do you only collect New Era’s?
Although I’d say 98% of my collection is New Era, i must say no. I do think that New Era is the best brand for headwear for quality and style, but i still will buy what i like. Other companies that have found their way into my possession include Nike, Melin, 47 Brand, Lacer, Mitchell & Ness, and American Needle to name a few. I’m an equal opportunity shopper- if i like the design and fit, ill cop. New Era is just predominantly the brand that puts all the pieces together for me the best. I also collect sneakers and records in my free time.
How many hats do you have?
Somewhere around 420, but there’s new ones coming in all the time.
How often do you buy caps?
As often as my budget allows! I’m always shopping, but I’d say at least 2-3 times a month we welcome new additions to the family.
How do you manage to get New Era hat boxes?
It’s a combination of persistence, mass buying, and knowing employees. Some stores/employees will gladly hand them over, others will look at you with contempt for even asking.
Where and how do you typically store your massive collection?
For the longest time they were hung on the wall, but now I use 2 under bed long drawer bins, 3 3-drawer bins, a dresser, and about a dozen new era cap boxes. IMO, the 3-drawer bins are the most effective. You can find them at any local walmart or target, and they fit a good 50 caps minimum each. Plus they keep them dust free and clean- something that would bother me when they were wall hung.
What would you say are some of your favorite gems out of your gigantic collection?
The first ones that jump to my head are the Twiztid x Mishka keep watch eyeball, the Iron Man sample, the fight of the century Muhammad Ali, & the Marilyn Monroe Andy Warhol
How dope are the flagship Chicago New Era stores? Any other hidden gem retailers anyone else should know about?
I loved the now defunct flagship on State Street. It pains me that they closed. But yeah the flagships are a collectors heaven. As far as hidden gem retailers, it all depends on what floats your boat, team affiliation, etc. There’s some great boutiques in Chicago, so I’d recommend starting there.
Being from Chicago what’s the real deal? Which retail shop is the best, Leaders, Jugrnaut or Saint Alfred?
Saint Alfred shows me a lot of love, so I’d have to say them. shouts to David, Joe, Frank, Deal, & Emily. They always take good care of me and stay humble. Jugrnaut is strong too- Roger is a great guy and provides a great shopping experience. Also used to do a lot of shopping w Pan at Akin before they closed. Leaders, Phli, Succezz, Overtime and Fat Tiger are dope spots too with some great product, but my shopping experiences haven’t always been good there. Unless you’re plugged, you may not always get the best service or pricing. Just being honest.
What are your favorite streetwear brands right now?
In Chicago- Fashion Geek, Sir & Madame, and Dope Boy Magic. Globally- Deadline, Acapulco Gold, Revolution Riche, and Blackscale come to mind first.
With two Stanley Cups coming out of Chicago in 2010 and 2013 would you say your love for the blackhawks came about in 2010 or you’ve always been a huge fan?
I was a huge fan growing up, rooting for guys like Belfour, Roenick, Chelios, Savard, Probert, etc. But when Dollar Bill Wirtz stopped allowing games to be televised locally, along with cheaping out on renewing contracts and being disloyal to long time hawk veterans, I admittedly lost a lot of interest. In this city there’s just too much to enjoy, and if you’re out of sight you’re out of mind. It wasn’t until around 2007 when his son Rocky took over and made it a fan friendly atmosphere again that i really started tuning back in. Now, I rarely miss a game. But that’s why you show games on TV! haha
If you had to pick, What is your favorite team out of the Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, and the White Sox, who would it be and why?
Oh man, that’s like asking someone who their favorite child is. haha for me, It changes with the season. Chicago sports are more of a lifestyle here. But if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to pick the Bears because its the one team that everyone in the city agrees on. I never miss a game, and one of my earliest memories is sitting on my Pop’s lap watching them win Super Bowl XX.
Do you collect all special edition New Era hat’s that release?
Not all, but I’m very partial to them. Especially if they are for characters I grew up watching.
Iron Man, Batman, G.I.Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Which fictional characters mean the most to you?
I’m an 80s baby who was raised in the greatest cartoon television era of all time. I love to collect the characters that I grew up on.
Out of all the Galaxy caps you have which one gets you the most compliments in public?
I think the original brighter colored one. It draws the eye and commands attention.
Notice you have several different versions of the CATS Oneness New Era’s, what do you enjoy about them and how did you find out about them?
I’ve showed love for Joe and Oneness since their inception. If I have any college allegiance, its to UK-I lived in Lexington for a little over a year after high school and I’ve got a lot of friends there still, and I like to support those who support me. Shouts to Joe and Warren. And f**k the certain shop that will not be named that bit this design.
We’ve never seen the “Made in Detroit” 59Fifty New Era – Whats the deal with that one?
Made In Detroit is a brand now owned by Kid Rock. The logo represents the hard working blue collar city known for its Auto industry. It’s a city I spent a lot of time in in my teen years, and will always hold a special spot in my heart.
In your opinion what is a release New Era needs to drop that has never been seen?
I could go on forever. Gremlins, Pee Wees Playhouse, Animaniacs, Ghostbusters to name a few. If only I could get in the ear of the designers behind the flag! haha
What are your favorite three hats out of your entire collection?
I really like the Batman utility belt, the soundwave/transformers character cap, & the White Sox civil rights game joint. I know i probably forgot some, but lets go with those.
Do you mess with NewEraCapTalk at all?
I absolutely love the blog and read it almost daily. I just recently created a profile to join in on the forums, but I don’t really like to give my opinion unless asked. We all have different preferences, and I don’t want anyone to buy or not buy anything because of something I wrote. Buy what you like. I also want to start getting more active in shopping/trading on the site- I know some of you people on the forums have stuff i want. Give it up!!! haha
Any final words?
In closing, first I’d just like to say thanks for the interview- my humble respect for all the work you guys put into making the site as enjoyable as possible. If you’re still reading this, thank you. If you take anything away from this interview, let it be this: I encourage you all to be independent thinkers in collecting. Don’t worry about rarity, or what your friend thinks, or how many caps you need to be respected. Buy what you like, and enjoy it. Life is too short to try and impress others. Keep your passion for what you love, keep it fun, and respect others who may like something different. We all walk different paths, and that’s what makes this world awesome. Love everybody for who they are-Unless they’re Green Bay Packers fans- in which F*ck em! lol just kidding.