By Margarita Vaisman With baseball season upon us, what better time to explore New Era's extensive lineup of Marvel-inspired designs? New Era caps are not your run-of-the mill hats. They boast dynamic designs, use quality fabrics and high thread counts and have become bona fide collectors' items. We took a trip to the New Era flagship store to check out some of the designs and were impressed with the cool caps we found. Though New Era is the official on-field cap of Major League Baseball, what makes this headwear even more special is its colorful selection of Marvel branded caps. We're talking a metallic gold and red Iron Man hat, a Beast hat made of blue fur, and other logos and designs featuring Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk, Punisher and other Marvel favorites! Albizu Rondon, a Product Designer for New Era, took time out to answer a few questions about the Marvel headwear—plus, be sure to watch the video below for the whole story! Marvel.com: Where did the inspiration for these specific designs come from? Albizu Rondon: These characters are iconic to the Marvel universe. Each cap tries to use some element from the characters that the fans could respond to. [For example] Beast is a furry blue beast-like genius. This character element is apparent upon first viewing the cap [which is furry and blue] but if you look closer there are other clues to the character such as the back logo hit: Beast's real name, Dr. Hank McCoy. The lining of the cap reflects Beast's scientific nature with chemical equations and fan inspired phrases. Professor Xavier is the Founder of the X-Men. He always seems to have a higher level of thinking. With his cap we chose a higher level fabric and style using gold metallic leather and buffalo plaid. To those who might remember him from early comic books and animation, Xavier rode around the X-mansion in his gold plated hovercraft-like wheelchair and usually had a buffalo plaid blanket covering his legs. The Colossus cap is inspired from Colossus' uniform and metal skin. His uniform was yellow and red and his hard as steel skin was silver metallic. We took [this] a step further by having the embossed lines of his skin represented in the fabric as well.
Marvel.com: What has the reaction been like so far to the caps?
Albizu Rondon: We've had a great response to the variety of designs we have offered so far. [In particular,] the caps we did for Iron Man were extremely popular. We have also walked Comic-Con in San Diego wearing some of these caps, giving them away as prizes and freebies to fans who went ballistic at the site of them. All of the artists at Comic-Con that we showed them to also loved them!
Marvel.com: How do you think these hats are influencing pop culture and fashion?
Albizu Rondon: I think it might be going BOTH ways with the influence. We are always making caps that are on point with pop culture and fashion…This is the reason why these flagship originals have that extra special attention to detail that is fashion orientated with fabrics and accents. It's interesting to see some colors in fashion (apparel/ sneakers) that we haven't seen before that are indicative of super heroes. This may have been an influence of the caps or the big entertainment industry move towards super hero flicks. I like to think it's the former.
Marvel.com: What are the most popular hats in New Era's Marvel collection?
Albizu Rondon: Basic logo caps and movie inspired caps.
Marvel.com: Do you have a sense of how many people are buying these to collect them versus wear them?
Albizu Rondon: These caps and some that have yet to hit stores may very well be looked at as collector's items. You can wear the Beast cap because it's fly but if you're too shy to wear it, you may want it just because it's the first and ONLY cap out there to represent that character in a fan-loving, detail-oriented way.
Marvel.com: Many of our characters have gone through different designs and styles, are there any specific looks that influenced the designs of the New Era Marvel caps?
Albizu Rondon: It's a combination of things. For some caps we just want the basic look, something that EVERYONE can wear. Other caps NEED to go that extra mile and be exclusive for the fashion forward or collectible consumer.
Marvel.com: What characters are slated to be featured in the future?
Albizu Rondon: Hmmm.... I dunno if we should give away EVERYTHING....But you should be seeing new caps featuring (or more of): Cyclops, Punisher, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk and Wolverine.
Marvel branded New Era caps can be found at New Era stores worldwide, at NewEraCap.com and right here in the Marvel Shop!Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now! Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything Marvel Heroes! Download episodes of X-Men: Evolution now on iTunes!