We’ll cut straight to the chase, you might be shopping around for custom headwear but where do you start? When I first started proofing and creating hats, I asked myself “how complex can it be?” Expecting the response to be simple and straightforward was not the answer I received.
How can something so seemingly simple be so in-depth? Well the short answer for that is the industry is always changing and adapting to new and unique styles or trends. (Plus, manufacturing in its entirety is quite a process logistically let).
I hope I didn’t scare you away because throughout this article, we will share some industry insight that we have gained over years and years of research and hands on work with thousands of customers.
By the end of this article you will have crammed in years and years of our own trial and error, brand research and product knowledge into your repertoire; better allowing you to have a better grasp of key elements used during, before and after the custom hat making process.
Put your Thinkin’ Caps on (sorry for the bad joke), as we dive into a carefully chosen list of things to consider when creating custom hats.
1 – Who Are the Custom Hats for?
There are endless reasons someone may want to create custom hats whether you own a business, promoting an event, want to display your artistic side or something as simple as trying something new. (Side project if you will).
I am sure you already know which category you fall into, but at the end of the day how are using these? Many people use hats as a marketing technique for their brand or business; breaking into apparel as a new venture has yielded great results not just in dollars, but more importantly your reach.
Everyone that has been faithful to your brand will now essentially be a “walking billboard” for your business. (Talk about free marketing). Every day we see more and more businesses no matter the focus hopping into the ring to take on custom hats. And almost always they win, with Delusion MFG of course!
Whether you are using these for employees or retail sales, to give to family or friends, or to garnish an event with some added flavor; understanding your audience or consumer is key.
Your audience will guide you in more ways than you know. The customer base that you have worked so hard to build has given them a voice in helping you grow and expand. (Especially in the market of custom headwear or clothing).
I know I touched a little on this before but, observation and communication are key. The success of a brand is directly related to its care and attention to those involved on the business level and customer level. These two lines overlap. It is never a bad idea to listen to ideas, share ideas, and collaborate with customers.
Representing the style of your brand, influences and demographics of your company will help you have a better grasp on where to start and what style(s) to move forward with; at the end of the day, I don’t want to sound repetitive but the custom is always right. Once we have an idea of what direction to go we can really consider moving forward to getting some amazing custom hats created!
2 – Choosing the Right Hat Style
Hats have been around forever, we have seen new styles and trends come and go and come back. We must remember that everything is popular at least two times (check the facts) that is why we may feel nostalgic when we see our favorite television show becoming a new movie; it’s like that.
Again, this task has a lot to do with your brand and your customer. This will help influence which route to go when choosing a hat style to apply your branding to (we’ll get to that later).
Here are some of the hottest styles for creating custom hats right now:
- Five Panel Camp Caps (the new low profile go-to)
- Unconstructed Six Panels (do you like your hats floppy?)
- Unconstructed Five Panels (you don’t have to like Trump to like these hats)
- Constructed Six Panel Snapbacks (Ol’ Faithful)
- Cuffed Beanies (warmth escapes your body through your head, remember?)
- Trucker Hats (making a comeback, yeehaw!)
- Bucket Hats (it’s Summer all year long)
- Custom Styles (mix it up with a combination or brand new idea)
All these hats have unique construction in order to fit different customer preferences. Whether you are following trends or following what you think is best for your brand; there are tons of options.
At Delusion MFG we can create custom hats down to the type of fabric you want, style, paneling, embellishments and more just reach out to us.
Don’t be afraid, too much is always better than limited, you can even do something totally new. The best part about custom hats are that there’s two things that all these styles have in common: they go on your head and they all offer branding / customization.
3 – Fabrics for Custom Hats
Each style has many options regarding fabric availability, even our custom beanies! The type of fabric can lend towards the functionality of your custom hats or a look you had in mind.
Hat materials are so important to not only the look and style, but the environment in which these will be worn. Each type of fabric has its advantages and disadvantages.
Do not be afraid to ask or do your homework. Even go to your local clothing retailer and feel the fabrics yourself. There is nothing you should be afraid of or avoid doing in your journey to creating the best possible headwear product.
Here are some of the most used fabrics on custom hats (aside from beanies):
- Cotton Twill (Ol’ Faithful Pt. 2)
- Nylon (lightweight and forgiving in tough conditions)
- Canvas or Waxed Canvas (a clean but rough look at the same time)
- Corduroy (vintage style with a modern feel)
- Premium Wool (keeps you warm, duh)
- Speckled Tweed Wool (keeps you warm AND has some flare)
- Ripstop Cotton (putting a new twist on a classic fabric)
- Suede (use it on the visor or full hat, interchangeable)
- Polyester (smoooooooooth)
- Acrylic (great fit and stretching capabilities)
- Acrylic Mixed (the next level of acrylic)
- Merino Wool (comfy and warm)
While these are only a few fabrics available, we see these used the most but again there are so many references out there or you may have a hat you have that you would like to replicate fabric wise. Being as transparent as possible (I think we can even make transparent fabric, go figure) with your thoughts goes a long way when contributing to the overall finished product!
Yes. We have the capability of creating custom hats with all these fabrics mentioned.
4 – The Right Colors for Custom Hats
Colors are so important in designing a custom hat. From the artwork down to the base of the hat fabric to even the stitching. Don’t be overwhelmed that there are literally millions of color shades to choose from! Sorry to scare you but it is the truth! Most designers and manufacturers use Solid Coated Pantone Color Codes (Pantone C) to help match the best colors to the ones you intended.
To avoid any issues, using this guideline from the beginning would be very helpful! Colors invoke moods and emotions, so when choosing colors that best relate to your brand and the headwear fabric, it is important to gain a feel of the mood that this style is portraying.
There are some important questions you can ask yourself when choosing colors. How does this make me feel? How does this make me look? Does this portray the trend or style that I am going for? Would people be drawn to this? These questions relate to every element of the hat. Should you stick to a neutral or vibrant base? These should be considered when drafting ideas.
5 – Artwork for Custom Hats
When designing artwork for custom hats, it is important to focus on the essentials. As we look at successful brands and companies, they all have one thing in common: a simple yet distinguishable logo or text.
Brands are noticed by their logo. If I showed you distinguishable icons used by major companies, you would be able to identify then right away. This is important when considering how you want to follow this trend yet separate yourself from others.
Simplicity is not simple.
Some may believe that going over the top is the best idea, sometimes this is correct. Most of the time, we identify key ideas and stances based on text or a simple icon.
It is ideal to tie in the nature of your company or brand into your artwork as this will allow for easy recognition. For example, if you own a coffee company, you would want your artwork to somehow visually show this in one shape or form.
When creating artwork, it is important to visualize your brand as a whole, and narrow that down into a creative outlet. You may ask, how can I incorporate so many ideas into one thing? This is not the easiest of tasks but achievable.
Whether you are designing the artwork yourself, using previous graphics or going through someone else; there are main elements to remember when presenting the artwork to us or another supplier.
1) The best branding result for custom hats is always gained from sending Adobe Illustrator or .EPS Files. These translate best when transferring the digital file to something that can be used in a physical manner.
2) If your logo or artwork has colors, don’t forget to let us know. As I had mentioned previously, we use Solid Coated Pantone Color Codes to match digital colors to physical colors. Sending this information over not only will help us better outline these aspects in the proof but result in a better finished product!
But wait, you don’t have the filetype necessary? We have you covered! We can recreate your artwork in the correct format to result in the best outcome with a simple Artwork Fee.
Most of our Branding Options are limited to 8 Colors (as this is an Industry Standard), but there are ways to get around this; as this also sometimes helps make a design more concise.
6 – Branding Options for Custom Hats
We are on a roll now and are getting towards the finish line but do not underestimate the power of branding and the types of ways you can display your artwork to best represent your brand.
Here are some of the types of branding options that are popular at the moment for custom hats:
- Leather Patches (debossed, embossed, black ink; it doesn’t get classier than this)
- Woven Damask Labels (a staple in the hat and clothing industry)
- Woven Patches (a great way to utilize complex designs in a patch form)
- Embroidery Patches (more for those simple designs that pop)
- Flat Embroidery (nothing is more cut and dry then a direct embroidery)
- 3D Embroidery (want your artwork pop off the hat, well use this for simple designs)
While these are just a few options, you can really get creative with this aspect. Screenprinting, wooden engraved patches, rubber patches, and many more options are out there. We are your one stop shop!
So you have your focal point, but wait you get a free gift with your order! A secondary branding option, aren’t we just the best? With every custom order, a secondary branding area is included to really round out your hats.
Some of these options include but are not limited to:
- Inner Woven Damask Label (simple design for the inner sweatband)
- Back Closure Tag (small woven tag to the left of the closure)
- Back Flat Embroidery (want some embroidery over the closure, no problem)
- Side Embroidery (put some extra flare for something at a different angle)
We found it very important to include this as an option for our Custom Orders as it really puts the cherry on top (of your head) so to speak and adds a sense of legitimacy.
7 – Sizing for Branding Options
Although it would be more cut and dry to give a measurement to follow, many people like to use variations from large to small depending on the overall desired look or feel of the hat. Branding options also have a lot to do with this (whether or not there is blank space within this branding).
As we have developed standards based on the measurements of a specific panel on all of our hat styles and would be more than happy to make a recommendation; at the end of the day the best way to approach this is grab a ruler or measuring tape and be hands on.
8 – Closures for Custom Hats
We offer a variety of different closure styles for hats, not beanies unfortunately unless you have a brand new concept for a beanie with a snapback, you never know!
Here are some current closures we offer:
- Black Plastic Clip and Nylon Closure (standard but not standard at all)
- Matching Fabric and Metal Press (matching and add some metal such as brass, silver, black)
- Plastic Snapback Closure (click, click, click)
- Leather and Metal Press (additional fee but sure worth it)
These are not limited to our capabilities, always remember to ask. We will always investigate it for you!
Looks like we are all done, but you may want more customization. Another branding area, custom screenprinted or sublimination print fabric, fabric color changes; we can handle that.
Are You Ready for Production? I know we are excited to work with you.
9 – Trust Delusion MFG Pros
We find that as our recommendations are mostly taken and loved, people have different ideas and routes they want to go. So even providing a particular width or height would suffice as we can make sure that the artwork / branding is sized proportionately with even one of those measurements.
When working with graphic designers, fabric companies, and hat manufacturers; it is important to listen to their feedback and suggestions. Ask them questions, that’s what they’re there for. (It’s what we’re here for).
The knowledge that is gained over the years from reputable custom hat manufacturers is key not only to your success but their success as well. If someone is unwilling to listen to questions or concerns, it would be in your best interest to look elsewhere. It is important to find a manufacturer that will pay endless attention to detail and steer you in the right direction.
True professionals will not suggest certain things that would be counterproductive. Do your research when finding a custom hat manufacturer, this is VERY important. As there are many to choose from, it is key to find one with a proven track record of success from both the customer service / artwork side, to the actual manufacturing side.
Many manufacturers are happy to send samples to help you see their work up close. Having a great experience with a company who is helping make your hats as well as going above and beyond are the types of things you want to see. You are trusting someone to deliver on your vision.
Because we have seen the results firsthand. We have been involved in the custom apparel industry since 2008, with previous experience in the brand apparel sector and hospitality industry. That’s almost 10 years of experience!
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We have seen how not only society and technology has continued to change but the growth of the small business model. Delusion MFG can proudly say that we continue to team up with businesses (from big to small) around the world! We gladly lend our hand in helping businesses grow and succeed on the custom apparel spectrum.