Hats Off: How FairEnds Made our Professional Enthusiast Round 3 Caps (and All Their Other Great Goods)
We knew the minute we decided to make our dream of Professional Enthusiast ballcaps a reality, the dudes for the job were Ben Ferencz and Martin Carvajal, who founded FairEnds in 2011. Fusing their design enthusiasms—Martin made men’s clothing for Freeman’s Sporting Club, and Ben created custom bicycles—they brought their shared aesthetic to bear on simple, streamlined hats that are worthy of so much more than bad hair days (though they’re plenty useful for those, too). Now we present Ben with a short history of how fashion’s current headwear obsession came to be—and what makes a FairEnds take so dang special.
Q: How’d hats become your thing?
A: “I remember on the days my sister wasn’t going to blow-dry her hair, she would be wearing a ball cap instead. I think there have always been a lot of people like that, but something happened in the cyclical world of fashion all the sudden the fitted and trucker hats were a big thing. We wanted to make a version that was really easy-going—not structured like a New Era Yankees hat. Even though we’re not Ivy League kids at all, that was just kind of the vibe we wanted. I remember when I was younger, I would put all this time and effort into breaking in my hat so it would sit down on my head, so we set out construct a hat with a seamless backside that would have the vibe right out of the gate. Martin and I have smaller heads, so our designs fit most women, too—they’re truly unisex. It’s funny because some guys come to us and are like ‘I have an enormous head. Which one will fit?’ and we’re just like, ‘Sorry, but none—we’re not for you."
Q: So, tell us why you hate the term “dad cap” so much.
A: “I really do hate the term “dad cap”...don’t Google it. The famous early ones were the Polo designs—they were very shallow and became a thing for waspy banker guys who would wear them on Nantucket, and that look has come back tenfold. All of a sudden, we were getting all these messages from people who wanted to do dad cap collaborations, and I’d tell them, ‘I will do it if you promise to never, ever say the words dad cap.’ Though we use a similar shape, we don’t really want to be lumped in with that trend.”
Q: Is it hard to make all your hats in America in 2017?
A: “It’s not easy at all to even to find a hat factory here. They’re all closing in America because it’s really hard to compete with the international manufacturing scene, and you cannot make a hat in a clothing factory. One of the biggest problems is that the tool guys aren’t in business anymore—there’s a very specific machine that sews the brims and attaches the little button on top, and if that breaks and no one can repair it, you’re out of luck.. We’ve been very lucky to find great factories in L.A. to partner with, but it’s really a dying art. But because they’re so flexible and excited about challenges, we’ve been able to experiment, like with adding a colored back tab on the PE hat—it’s actually surprisingly complicated to do that, so it’s pretty rare.”
Q: Okay, back to basics: How (if at all) do you properly wash a hat?
A. “Very carefully, by hand, and in cold water. You can spot-clean it with some gentle soap and hang it to dry. It’s okay to get brims wet because they’re made out of plastic (though back in the day, they were cardboard—so be careful with something vintage). You definitely don’t put it in the washing machine. I’ve read some people suggesting you can put it in the top rack of the dishwasher, but that’s so not true because you never want to expose a hat to heat. It will shrink and warp.”