A true cultural icon.
A 100-year long history, that of New Era, started thanks to the tenacity, vision, and strength of a German immigrant, Ehrhardt Koch.
It is the end of the 19th century and the Koch family moves from Germany to the eastern part of Buffalo, in the state of New York, USA. In 1902, Ehrhardt worked for Miller Brother’s Cap Company which produced hats but after 18 years in the company, he decided it was time to start his own business.
He borrowed $2,000 (some versions of the story say he asked his aunt for the money, others say he asked his sister and a colleague for the money) and with that money, in 1920, he founded his own hat company, the E. Koch Cap Company. The company began production on the third floor of 1830’s Genesee Street, Buffalo, and began with 14 employees including many members of Ehrhardt’s family, his sister Rose, son Harold and nephew Wally, that year E. Koch Cap Company. Koch Cap Company produced 60,000 hats that year.
At first, the hats produced were Gatsby style, a classic of the 1920s, then, in 1934, the turning point that directed the company towards the future and global success.
New Era began the production of hats for the Cleveland Indians, Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the first real contact with the sporting world, rethinking and modernizing the cap for professional players calling it 59Fifty, baptized by Harold Koch, the “Brooklyn Style” hat.
From then on it was an escalation towards consecration and success. In 1965, the company supplied caps to 10 of MLB’s 20 teams until 1993, when New Era obtained the first exclusive license to produce caps for all Major League teams.
Not only baseball, but in 2012 it also became an official partner of the NFL (National Football League), and in 2017 it also obtained the rights for the NBA, becoming the first company to have exclusive rights for the three most important sports leagues in America, for the production of the cap.
The impact of New Era was devastating not only on the field but also outside.
The ’80s and hip hop culture gave a significant boost to the baseball cap cult that became the language and expression of many subcultures born from the street.
Even the world of streetwear has been fascinated by New Era: the many collaborations with the most important brands on the scene such as Supreme and Stüssy, for example, have further consolidated the “position” of the Baseball Cap in the fashion world. Artists, athletes, actors, influential personalities, everyone has worn a New Era cap at least once and maybe we all have.
“As fourth generation owner, it is a great honour to celebrate 100 years of New Era Cap and the heritage created by grandfather Ehrhardt Koch. After the humble beginnings in Buffalo, which we still proudly call our headquarters, the company has grown from a small hat company to an international lifestyle brand producing clothing and accessories,” said Chris Koch, President and CEO of New Era Cap. “We are very proud of our tradition and are ready to look forward to the next 100 years with enthusiasm.”
New Era intends to celebrate this historic moment by launching a series of special collections, new collaborations and reinterpretations of the classic cap. The collections that will be presented will be a hymn to the company’s future, partnerships with companies such as Helmut Lang, Yohji Yamamoto, Levi’s, visual artist Daniel Arsham, etc., representing the projection of New Era in the years to come.