For our latest edition of Cap Talk, we connect with Chicago-based New Era enthusiast Jeff Townley – AKA #Geoffrey. Jeff has been collecting since 2010, and currently has over 400 caps! His collection features a wide variety of hats, including sports licensed headwear and character-themed caps. Make sure to check out our interview with Jeff Towley to find out about what inspired him to start collecting, some of his favorite caps, how he feels about the New Era cap collecting community and more! What’s on your mind? Want to show off your collection? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Jeff Townley
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Hat Size: 7 5/8
Social Handles: YouTube: J-Towns / Instagram: jtownley13 / SnapChat: jtownley13 / Twitter: jtownley13 / Calling card for Instagram and Twitter is: #Geoffrey.
You’ve been collecting New Era caps since May 2010. What inspired you to start collecting?
A buddy of mine challenged me to get on On-Field 59Fifty for each MLB team before he could. Needless to say, it was no challenged. Once I hit about 15 caps, I bought a White Sox fitted. The cap is white with a cream elephant print. The brim is black with white elephant print. And the logos (i.e. White Sox. New Era, MLB) are black with red outlines. That’s the one cap that made branch into different hats. And since then, I haven’t looked back.
Currently, you have 405 New Era caps in your collection! Please tell us a bit more about it. What styles does it include? Do you have more sports licensed headwear or character-themed caps?
Actually, I have 407 now haha. Of those 407, a majority of them are fitteds. I would estimate that I have about 280 fitteds. Then probably around 80 snapbacks/strapbacks, 20 knits, and 15 or so flex-fits. Other sports licensed headwear? I’ve got about 10-12 Nike MLB flex brim strap hats. I built up a small collection of Reebok NFL hats when Reebok was still the official sponsor. I think I own about 20 of those. And then I’ve got 2 Mitchell & Ness hats. No disrespect to Mitchell & Ness, though. Mitchell & Ness is a great brand. My head isn’t made for Mitchell & Ness caps. As for character caps go, the only ones I have are New Era brand.
What are some of your favorite hats in your collection?
That’s a difficult question to answer. 407 caps is quite a bit, so if you can understand, it’s tough to pick and choose my favorites. They are all important to me in their individual ways. In the past, I have released a few top favorite caps videos on my YouTube channel. Those videos help me gain publicity, so that’s the only reason I film my “favorites”. But, if I were to pick a few that stand out more than others, I would say my Chicago-colored Bulls hat with the Chicago Flag on the side, signed by Joakim Noah. Along-side that cap would be my small collection of custom-stitched caps, of which you can also view a upload of just those caps on my YouTube channel: J-Towns.
You love collecting MLB caps. What is your favorite MLB logo and cap?
That’s also a tough choice. I feel inclined to say the White Sox, being that I am a die-hard fan, but I’m going have to go with the Yankees logo. I’m not too big a fan of the Yankees, but the Yankees are the team that I have 2nd most caps of. It’s just a basic logo, but it seems like that logo can be paired with any color you can think of. And no one looks bad with a Yankees cap on, unless you’re a Mets fan or a Red Sox fan. Favorite MLB cap? Again, very tough choice, but the one that stands out the most is one of my more recent purchases. It is an all-white White Sox cap, white logo with a red outline. Under brim is red. And offset to the right of the MLB logo in the back is a custom-stitched Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Ribbon with the letters CHD next to it. I decided to get that stitched on because someone I care about very much has CHD. I encourage everyone to become more aware with this condition and even donate in hopes of finding a cure.
With such a massive collection, how do you how do you store all of your hats? Can you offer any storage tips to other fellow collectors?
My current storage unit was done through materials bought from primarily the Home Depot. I use twin upright bracket shelving. Assembly for my current set-up was quick and easy, but the only downside is it cost me quite a bit of dough. If I could offer any advice, I would say do what you feel is right. If you can afford it, and you feel you’d be happy with it, then nothing should stop you. I know storage techniques alone can cost more than just a few caps, though. So, don’t go spending a ridiculous amount of money on hats and storage for those hats. Collecting caps is important to all of us here, it IS a lifestyle, but you can’t make a living collecting caps. As great as that would be, you have to work hard in order to play hard.
Which style of cap do you prefer: fitted or snapback – why?
My fitted-snapback ratio helps determine that I prefer fitted all day. No question. It’s called fitted, because it fits. Most snapbacks look to small on my head and they’re a bit uncomfortable. Especially those Original Fit snapbacks. Those feel like they were made for toddlers, no joke. Also, the snaps tend to rub against my head. My opinion is, you buy hats that not only look good, but also feel good. You have to be comfortable in the outfit you’re wearing, and snapbacks don’t quite do it for me.
Do you keep the New Era sticker on the visor or nah?
When I first began collecting, yes I kept the stickers on all of my hats. It’s a popular fashion, but it’s also a controversial topic. People make stereotypical comments when you’re rocking a cap with the sticker on the cap. I used to enjoy it because it’s loud and it’s fashion statement. Nowadays, most of the stickers get taken off just after the purchase. I’ve grown out of that “loud” phase. I’ll only leave stickers on hats that have a white brim. That’s only because either A. I’ll forget to take it off; and B. I can’t trust that the stick was just recently applied to the bill. You could very well peel it off and there’d be remnants of the adhesive permanently stuck on the brim. I’ve got a couple hats where I’ve ran into that issue, so white billed hats for me will normally always have the sticker on them. And when the bill along with the cap are all white, it adds a little shine to the cap.
Being from from Chicago; did you ever get a chance to visit the New Era Chicago Flagship store before it closed?
I associate myself as living in Chicago. I live in the far west suburbs though, but yes I had been to the store quite a number of times before they closed their doors. That store, for probably about 2 years was my primary source for hats. It’s a real shame that they shut down. There’s a Lids about a half a block north there on State street on the opposite side of Adams that pretty much stole all of New Era’s business, which led to the store closing. I’m still quite upset about it too, even a year later. The employees there knew me by name every-time I walked in. The staff there was incredible, and it’s the only store where I was able to pick-up exclusive releases without having to shop online. Hopefully New Era decides to re-open the flagship in a different location. Just not near the Lids. If I could suggest, I’d say open up somewhere just north of the river on Michigan Avenue, or somewhere in that general area with a cheaper rent. Of course we’re talking about Chicago, so cheap rent is about as existent as a Aaron Hernandez’ innocence.
Do you rock any Chicago pro team caps? If so, what Chicago-based team’s caps are your favorite to wear?
Yes, I wear Chicago hats very often. About a 1/5 or 1/6 of my collection is Chicago based. And my favorite Chicago hats to wear are White Sox, Bulls, and occasionally the Blackhawks
Where do you purchase most of your caps?
It varies. Every once in a while (once a month or so), I’ll shop at the New Era company store here in Rosemont by the airport. But, a majority of my hats, since the flagship shut down, have come from local stores or name brand stores that supply New Era Caps (i.e. Oakley)
Are there any local hat stores you can recommend to other collectors?
I can name 2. First one is conveniently located about 5 minutes from where I live. It’s called Pro Jersey Sports in Downers Grove. They are well known by other avid collectors in the area. The other store, mostly a White Sox shop, is called Grandstand. It’s on West 35th Street in Chicago, just west of U.S. Cellular Field in-between the Dan Ryan and Halsted. Great place! I’ve only been there once just because it’s quite a hike to get out there and Cook County taxes are ridiculous.
What was your favorite New Era release of 2014?
My favorite release was definitely the Saint and SInner 59Fifty’s out of the Rococo Collection. Those caps shine like no other. The designs under their brims a very creative as well. Other than online, they were very difficult to find. But, I got lucky when my brother offered me to join him on a road-trip to New Orleans while he had a conference at the Sheraton there last May. The New Era store had a fresh stock of both caps.
What caps are you looking forward to picking up this year?
Well, being that I’m a Patriots fan, I still have yet to order both AFC Champions and Super Bowl Champions gear. I’d also like to purchase a few of the Motorsport NEO 39Thirtys that feature various NASCAR Drivers with their sponsors. I’ve been reluctant to get Minor League Baseball hats though. So I definitely want to pick up a few of those. I love Minor League Baseball logos. Some of them are very unique, to say the least.
Any upcoming projects that you’re working on that you’d like to share with our readers?
Cap related projects, no. Although, I would love the opportunity to fully customize a hat of my own with New Era. I do have personal projects that I work on quite often. I’m an architecture enthusiast. In my spare time, I design floor plans. I’ve got a massive binder filled with different drawings that I’ve done since I was about 10-12 years old (this binder is falling apart, by the way). Last month, I took two of my pieces and built scaled models of both designs. Right now, I’m in the process of making changes to an older design in preparation to begin another model.
Any final words?
I’ve met people. seen people, and heard of people who collect various things like shoes, comic, etc. They seem very confident about there collections. But, being a hat collector, I definitely believe it’s us cap addicts, especially those under Team Fitted, show the most passion for their collections. We don’t turn hostile when it comes to shady buying and selling. The average cap collectors not only show an enormous amount of passion, but we also show and have a keen sense of respect for one another. That’s the difference between cap collectors and any other collectors. For my final note, I encourage everyone to take just a few moments to follow me on Instagram: @jtownley13, and subscribe to my channel on YouTube: J-Towns. Stay beautiful, Fitted Fam!