…Because we made the five panel cap cool
If you’ve been following fashion over the past decade, you’ve probably noticed the rise of the five panel cap, as it went from cult item to style staple. And while casual observers may originally attribute this rise to the influence of hip-hop eccentrics like Odd Future, the five panel’s history as a street-ready must actually goes much further back. And fittingly, New York City is the key.
Tribe Called Quest courtesy of Marc Baptiste/CORBIS OUTLINE.
In its earliest incarnation, the five panel cap has nautical and military roots, where its low-profile fit and big brim offered maximum sun and glare protection in a packable, minimalist silhouette. That history of rugged utility eventually attracted New York City youth to five panel cap styles, which they began wearing in the late 1980s, adopting both high-end designer models and less expensive army surplus versions. Coincidentally, this initial, regional five panel cap trend overlapped with a sea change in New York hip-hop, as streetwise, intellectual rappers like Nas and Wu-Tang Clan overtook older acts with their fresh take on the genre. Along with smart, gritty lyrics, these artists also wore New York City’s fashion trends of the day, which included Timberlands, preppy designer goods, military fatigues, camouflage, and five panel caps. As these artists took over radio, MTV, and eventually even film, they spread their distinct take on fashion across the globe, exposing people worldwide to five panel caps.
Skateboarders were one group who found this new hip-hop and its style irresistible, adopting the five panel cap as a skate-world must-have, where it remained until it was eventually picked up by a growing streetwear scene in the late 1990s. In the following two decades, streetwear only got bigger, eventually overlapping with high fashion, which only propelled the scene’s favorite cap—the five panel—to new heights, where it remains to this day.
And, as a New York brand, O.N.S has been proud to incorporate the storied five panel cap into our collaboration with Brooklyn artist Mike Perry, where we’re currently offering four different versions adorned with his unique illustrations, offering a little something for everyone.