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Blank Hats vs Custom Hats: Which One is Right for You?

So you probably ended up here because you’re looking for the best website to buy hats for your brand or business, but the question is, do you want the best blank hats online or best custom hats online? Making the right decision for a company that can be daunting, what if the team doesn’t like it?

To decrease the pressure, we wrote an in-depth article about the differences between the two.

You’re definitely not alone. Many of our customers and even some people in our offices get confused about the intricate details sometimes too.

Hats. They’re confusing!?

Nonetheless, if your brand or business is looking for new headwear to elevate your unique identity, then rest assured you have landed in the right place (or screen). Check our instagram to see examples of what we created for our previous customers.

In this article, we will break down our two programs: blank hats and fully custom hats. (If you want to contact our reps for custom hats now, click here).

Let’s dive in!

Blank Hats or Custom Hats?

Which one should you choose to get started for your brand or business? It really depends on your situation with your brand or business. Are you a small business or a large business? What customers do you target? etc.

There are many factors that we look for when someone reaches out for branded headwear.

Here is a checklist we consider to be helpful when deciding whether you decide to go with blank hats or custom hats.

  • Deadlines – always are sure to consider how much time you have to receive the hats.
  • Local Decorator – this is a huge consideration on whether you go blank or custom.
  • Time management & Liabilities – understanding the limits between blanks and custom.
  • Design Complexity – the more complex your design is, the more likely you’d want custom.
  • Quality – sometimes you want your brand to stand out, the quality is crucial to be unique.
  • Budget – keep in mind the cost and price variances between blank hats vs custom hats.


Let’s just say it’s 3pm on a Friday and you’re dreaming about the weekend. You’re excited to go to that beach party where all your friends will be wearing hats or beanies if that’s their thing.

Enter the thought, “OMG I forgot to order hats for the company’s event last week.” (Let’s hope you don’t get a call from the boss man).

Yeah, if that is you right now, then most likely you’ll be ordering our stock blanks and finding a local shop to crank out custom designs for your company faster. Designs can be anything from embroidery, leather patches, woven labels or any other kind of embellishments your headwear vision requires.

We really hope that you are not in the position mentioned in the above example because that is not a fun situation to be in (we have all been there). At the very top of your decision-making process between blank hats or custom hats, you really need to take a hard look at your deadline.

Regardless of the deadline you are working with, we are here to help! Be sure to reach out to our sales team at sales@delusionmfg.com if you’re interested in ordering with us.

Based on your deadlines, we will find a program that will be the right fit for you. See below for a brief outline of our lead times needed for each program below.

Blank Hats

  • Shipped the next day (24 hrs) once the order is fulfilled (Typically stocked styles will ship out of our warehouse the same day).

Custom Hats

  • Production time is 3-7 weeks depending on what type of hat you choose and how much customization is required but can peak to 8-14 weeks depending on our current production schedule. (Keep in mind, production for custom hats are built from scratch, down to the roll of fabric being used).
  • We do offer rush service with a minimum of 2-5 weeks depending on the complexity of your design. (Remember, the simpler the design, the faster the production progresses. Plus, less is more).

Here’s a breakdown of different scenarios for custom orders

  • Custom Beanies: Typically 3-5 weeks
  • Custom Hats: Typically 5-7 weeks
  • All Custom Headwear for Rush Orders: 2-5 weeks (depends on design complexity)

Moral of the story, make sure you consider our production cycles before you consider blank hats or custom hats. The last thing we want is for you to receive great quality hats when your event or launch date is already over.

Local Decorator

We are not going to lie, local decorators and quality decorators are hard to come by. But who exactly is a decorator and what do they do?

A decorator is someone who has the machinery and equipment to attach a custom branded embellishment to our trendy blank hats. There is a wide range of custom embellishments available in the market. Some of the different types of embellishments a local decorator might be able to handle will vary based on the type of equipment they have in their shop.

The most common embellishment is embroidery. There is a solid chance you will be able to find a local embroidery shop who produces quality work. (Be sure to ask for samples and view their previous work to ensure that their quality is what you are satisfied with).

The last thing you want is to spend your whole budget on blank hats from us and have your local decorator dismantle your awesome headwear with sloppy craftsmanship.

Be sure to do your homework.

There are also some other more specialty shops that would have the ability to sew custom patches, woven damask labels and maybe even rubber patches, but those are few and far between. Your best bet for something like this is finding a reputable decorator online and having our high-quality blanks drop-shipped directly to them. Don’t hesitate to reach out and our team can help recommend some local/nationwide decorators. help@delusionmfg.com

You are probably wondering, “why don’t you decorate your blank hats?” Well, the short answer is, our equipment. During our custom headwear manufacturing process, we add your custom embellishment during the paneling phase (see photo below).

Custom embellishment on pink green hat panel
Click the image for our Custom Hat Program

Blank Hats and embellishment decorators can seem a little complex and overwhelming if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship. There is also the factor of your time devoted to project management which leads us into our next point.

Time Management & Liability

Hiring a 3rd party decorator whether it is local or not, can have its pros and cons. Below is a break down of the pros and cons in regards to project management and responsibility for you to consider when taking the path of blank hats and a local decorator.

Time Management

Things to consider when working with a local decorator is instead of hiring us to manage the whole production of your custom branded headwear, you and your team are basically “quarterbacking” the whole production of your blank hats and embellishments.

Think quality control, lead times, procurement. (Logistics can be a huge headache). That’s a lot to handle, especially with your busy day to day schedule (We know, it’s daunting at times).


Liability doesn’t come into play a lot, but it’s certainly something to consider.

Liability is referring to the fact that once blanks are in the hand of your decorator, the way they handle and treat the blank hats, is ultimately your responsibility.

As I mentioned before, this doesn’t happen often and we try to help everyone out to the best of our ability if a situation would arise with your contracted decorator, but we are unable to replace or refund goods that are already decorated on. So it’s very important to get to know your decorator and understand the history of client success from your decorators.

Design Complexity

The complexity of your overall design is going to play a big role in whether you choose a blank hat or custom hat.

Are you trying to be like Virgil Abloh and let your best hat design inspiration run wild? Or are you just looking for a basic 5-panel hat, with your brand logo on it?

If you are looking to build your own hat and express your true inner creative, then you need to go with our Custom Hats Program where we craft the best custom hats online.

Through our custom, hat-making process customers can choose a variety of things to customize from the fabrics, shapes, fit, sizing, patchwork, embroideries, brim styles, closures and more.

If you are looking for a quick custom hat for retail or just to showcase your brand, then going with blank hats could be right for you.

Blank Hats Limitations of Design

  • Embroidery (most common)
  • Woven Label (need a decorator that can sitch)
  • Custom Patchwork
  • Screen Print Front Panel

Custom Hat Limitations of Design

  • None

To say there are no limitations of design on our Custom Hats Program would be excessive, but from a creative standpoint, we do not like to put a cookie-cutter spec sheet out for you to pick from.

We encourage our clients to come to the table with a truly unique custom headwear design, and we will try our best to craft your custom hat based on your design.

You can check out this article about all the ways you can customize headwear.

Overall Quality

We would be lying to you if we said that the quality of the finished product is NOT the same on both blank hats and custom hats. The main reason is, we don’t know the hat decorator you are working with and we have no control over the finished product after it leaves our facility.

With our Custom Hats Program, we are able to control the whole supply chain and can confidently say that the hats we deliver to your doorstep, will be retail ready pieces that can go up against any of your favorite brands. (Supreme included).

At the end of the day, each and every project of yours will have different characteristics to them, from deadline to design and everything in between. We highly recommend taking a second before making a decision about blank or custom hats and using our checklist to understand which decision best fits you and your brand’s goals.


Budget is always a factor. Whether you’re at the store buying name brand cereal or the generic brand (To be honest, it all tastes the same. Prove us wrong).

But really, budgeting is important.

Right off the bat, the minimum entry point for our custom headwear is right under $14/per USD and that is for 30 fully custom hats. Keep in mind, this pricing is only an estimate, final pricing is based on your approved design.

Please note that all 30 units would have to be the same design.

Now, what if you go with the route that includes the purchase of blank hats and your local decorator for the same design? See the differences between them below.

Blank Hats w/ Local Decorator

  • 3 x 12packs = 36 units (3 color way flexibility since it’s not under our Custom Hats Program)
  • Hat Cost = $7.73
  • EST Embroidery Cost = $4.50
  • Finished Cost = $7.73 + $4.50 = $12.23
  • EST Total Cost = $440.28 + shipping

Custom Hats

  • 30 units x $14/per
  • 2 Spot Branding
  • All 30 units are the same
  • EST Total Cost = $420 + Shipping

You can see that both blanks hats and custom hats have their advantages and disadvantages.

Purchasing blank hats and having a local decorator take care of the custom work allows for flexibility. You can purchase 3 of our 12 packs and have 3 different types of hats or colors with the same logo patch.

Whereas through our Custom Hats Program, the minimum requires 30 of the same hats. (Which means you won’t have 3 different styles of hats unless you order 90 units).

If you’re confused about the details, reach out to us and we’ll further explain. help@delusionmfg.com.

We made a quick worksheet to help you along your decision-making process below, check it out!

Blank Hats vs Custom Hats Worksheet


Delusion MFG

Thank you for taking the time to read our article about what needs to be considered when choosing blank hats or custom hats. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be in contact within 24 hours.


If you think you’re ready to go custom now click here if you want to see our blank hats click here.

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