Ebbets Field Flannels describes its overall offering as "vintage authentic." The wording here is important. “Vintage authentic” is different from “authentic vintage.” For instance, when I ordered my 1958 Fort Worth Cats cap from Ebbets, I didn’t expect to receive an “authentic vintage” garment. I knew I wasn’t getting a museum piece, worn in a baseball game 57 years ago by a Cats player like Footer Johnson or Chick King. There would be no certificate of authenticity, no results from a DNA test assuring me that the crusty, yellowed sweatband contained perspiration from such-and-such player.
For Ebbets, “authenticity” means something different. A couple of things, actually. On one hand, authenticity means historical accuracy. This aspect of authenticity is easy to explain, although difficult to achieve. Jerry and his team painstakingly research uniforms from baseball’s bygone eras and reproduce those garments in their Seattle workshop, staying true to original designs and materials. While New Era can slap a "throwback" Boston Braves emblem on a 59FIFTY cap, with its distinctly contemporary body the hat looks nothing like what old-school Braves players would have actually worn. Ebbets caps, on the other hand, more thoroughly resemble the originals in terms of design, materials, and construction. The caps have an authentic appearance.
(This fidelity to historic construction also creates a strong visual identity. I can spot an Ebbets hat from a block away. Whereas the 59FIFTY has a high, stiff crown, the front panels on Ebbets hats are unstructured. The fabric moves, dipping and folding. Depending on the dimensions of the team insignia, the height of the crown varies. It's something like wearing an unstructured Italian blazer on your head.)
But there's another, more speculative aspect of "authenticity."
Ebbets hats have resonance. That's part of the reason why I can spot them so easily. Yes, their look is distinct, but they also have a presence. When I see an Ebbets hat, or hold one in my hands, it seems to transcend itself. That is, I can detect an "it" besides, or through, the cap itself. The physical object of wool, satin, and felt is embued with soul. It's as if the hat has come to me from that other dimension, the Ebbets "parallel universe"—similar to how in "The Man in the High Castle"—SPOILER ALERT—reels of film (or copies of books, in the case of Philip K. Dick's original novel) change hands between people in interwoven realities.
Our story on Shockoe Atelier included a passage of conversation in which Pierre Lupesco talked about the "soul" of Neapolitan suiting, which he could feel but not define. In his new book, "Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style," David W. Marx quotes Kiya Babzani from Self Edge as saying:
"The brands I sell have massive amounts of soul. When you pick it up, you feel something that you don't feel when you pick up any other garment. Even if it's someone who knows nothing about any clothing, when they come in and touch a shirt, they think, there's something different about that shirt. It has a life to it."
Small wonder, then, that when Self Edge wanted a line of hats celebrating their different shop locations, they turned to Ebbets for help.