As the fashion industry enters a new decade, there are many style predictions that are rumored to happen this year. From nostalgia trends already peaking in 2019 – leather in all forms, thong sandals and tie-dye are only a few throwback styles that are creeping its way back, to iconic brands reaching new heights, 2020 is the year for fashion. And companies like New Era are celebrating a century in an industry that never stops re-inventing.
What’s the brand’s secret? Hiring young creatives, paying attention to the excitement of their staff, and creating globally recognizable pieces. “I’ve never worked anywhere where every single day we’ll have two or three requests from influencers or musicians,” exclaimed Mark Maidment, SVP of New Era. New Era has had a pretty consistent run. From curating arguably one of the most popular hats to date, a.k.a. the Yankees cap, to rolling out new collections and colorways yearly, New Era still sits on top of the streetwear realm.
With projects set to come out to celebrate its 100th year, ESSENCE got to chat with Maidment about what it’s like to continue on the legacy of New Era. Read below.
ESSENCE: What does reaching 100 years mean for New Era?
Maidment: I’ve been at New Era for four years and on my very first day, Chris Koch said to me, “It’s our 100th anniversary in four years. I know it’s a lot in advance, but we want to maximize it to have a great time. So please don’t mess it up,” and that’s the most pressure I’ve ever had in a project because you can’t celebrate your 100th again. We’ve been planning this for a good two or three years. I think the key thing for us is recognizing the history and then also really looking at the future.
“We’ve always tried to break the rules a bit. I mean, in fashion now, as you’ll notice, things like breaking the rules is the only way to go.” – Mark Maidment
ESSENCE: How have you seen the influence of New Era on the public since you’ve been at the brand?
Maidment: It’s been an incredibly interesting story. The history behind it [New Era] shows why people approach and want to work with us. We’re very fortunate to be one of those brands that have an icon at the heart, and that’s the 59Fifty. It’s one of those products that is almost like a Coca-Cola bottle. When you see just the silhouette you know it’s 59Fifty. The other thing is I think people love about New Era is the kind of disruptive progressive nature and having this icon. Of course, it’s like a rolling expansion from there because they see the cap on Spike in ’96, you know this is 30 years ago. And then they see it on the heads of every influencer, artist, musician, and athlete throughout the whole world, but particularly in North America.
We’ve always tried to break the rules a bit. I mean, in fashion now, as you’ll notice, things like breaking the rules is the only way to go.
ESSENCE: From the inside how New Era has to keep the Yankees cap relevant?
Maidment: Outside of North America, it’s the number one headwear cap logo. And I would say 99% of the people wearing it probably don’t know it’s the baseball team. They think it’s the icon of New York or an icon of just street culture. It has different meanings to different people but a lot of logos that we use people also use it to represent where they’ve come from. The Yankees logo’s just the most widespread and has the biggest reach. So we obviously use it a lot. We’ve done loads of different things with it. So I guess in answer, keeping the New York Yankees logo relevant is really easy. It kind of does the job for itself. And it’s such an icon.
“We always push the envelope, break the rules, experiment and be highly creative.” – Mark Maidment
ESSENCE: How do you think that New Era has stayed in the game for this long and how do you all plan to maintain the long streak?
Maidment: We don’t come into the office every day and think about the past pretty much. And this is a retro trend of course. We’re very forward thinking. Our design teams are full of really young people who are completely connected. We’re always thinking about what the next thing could be, what the next new technique could be, what the next new trend could be. And that’s just a mindset that we’ve always had. So I think that’s what’s kept us relevant. We always push the envelope, break the rules, experiment and be highly creative.
ESSENCE: How do you choose who do you want to partner with?
Maidment: So many people want to collaborate with us and we’re incredibly thankful for that. We love doing it. But we can only do so much. There needs to be an affinity and there needs to be excitement from within our business as to who we’re working with. People we look at and admire.