Hats, Caps and Headwear Hats are in the last few years have become an essential accessory in the fashion industry. There are headwear that can be worn casually everywhere and then there are some worn on special occasions as every headwear has its own significance. It can be worn while playing sport, in a theme party, as a costume prop or to take cover from the sun rays. The Industry Trends The hat industry suffered a major decline in the 2000s which was also a bad time for the entire apparel industry. There were some periodic surges, still there were no change in the sales of the industry and it went flat. In the early time of the 21st century, baseball became a famous game and baseball caps were in high demand. Slowly and gradually it became a casual wear for the people in America. Other industry outputs were jungle cloth helmets, straw harvest hats, panamas, opera hats and other kinds of hats that were made out of fur, wool and straw. There were also a continuous demand of police hats, chauffeur hats and caps which were in some way a part of the uniform. The fashion industry is getting mature with each passing day which influences the awareness among many socio-economic segments which eventually benefits their sales. Many countries have started investing in the apparel industry in the Tier I and II cities for a much better growth. The construction industry has boomed in the last few years which increased the demand of Hard Protective Hats. Another key market that is responsible for growth is sports where more and more people getting attracted to sports such as baseball which increased the demand of the baseball caps. Along with that, there is an increase consumer receptivity regarding the trends of fashion industry. This is due to the rise in disposable incomes. Other than being aware in terms of style people also have grown into understanding of health related concerns. The melanoma skin cancer has boosted the demand for sun hats of the charts. In the year 2008 the hat industry generated revenue of $471.1 million. There were more than 100 countries from where imports were received – China being the largest producers of them all which valued over a billion dollars. The export market was a little short on numbers with $80.1 million. Mexico, Japan and Canada were the exporting countries. According to United States Census Bureau only a 152 United States establishments were incorporated in the manufacturing of caps, hats and other millinery items in the year 2007. Out of those 152 caps, hats and millinery producing establishments, only 72 employed people less than 20 people. According to 2009 Bradstreet’s industry report the states that were included in this category that employed large number of workers were Pennsylvania, Missouri, New York, Alabama, and Texas. Better revenue was generated by New York compared to other states followed by California, Illinois, Texas and New Jersey. Target Market In the beginning of the 20th century there was an outburst in most men who resided in the urban lands of the United States in terms of wearing hats. Between the year 1900-1910, men had a variety of choices in terms of what style of hats they wanted to wear. Each and every hat had its own significance to the occasions in which they were worn. One of the most preferred choice of men was the “princely brown” or black derby hat which had 3 distinct but basic styles. J.P. Morgan was among the few notable people to popularise a flat topped version of derby. In the 1920s men fashion was majorly influenced by the British particularly with the pastimes of the Price of Wales. Wearing a posh hat was signified as wealthy and classy. By the 1940s there was a change that came across the style of hats among men which slowly and gradually brought a change in the industry. By the 50s different fabrics were introduced that were lightweight and also washable which dramatically changed the base of the fabrics that were used before for the manufacturing of hats. Since then, there has been an extensive variety bought into the men’s world regarding headwear. All the materials that were used in earlier times some were made obsolete while others were made in a way that the final product was durable, lightweight and had more ventilation. Compared to men women hats were very popular in the early 20th century but it later saw a decline and rather than becoming a major element in the apparel it became more of an accessory in the wardrobe. The trend of women wearing hats was not very high since the beginning and only the exceptionally wealthy families wore those hats as a sign of wealthy and fame. In the 21st century since it beginning till now there is a huge demand of baseball caps among men especially boys and girls whether or not they have ever seen baseball or not. It was a trend setter and seemed to stay. Don hats are also significantly important among men which were worn in many social gatherings. Roughly a million members were a part of the Red Hat society which was an organisation for men over 50 years of age who wore red hats in conventions with purple dresses. Key Market Players Major players that have been involved in the millinery industry include Charles Owen & Co Ltd, Bollman Hat Company, Gap Inc., Dada Corporation, Global Headwear Ltd., Guccio Gucci SpA, Grace Corporation Ltd., Imperial Headwear Inc., New Era Cap Co Inc., Mainland Headwear Holdings Ltd., Pukka Headwear Inc., SSP hats., Spyder Active Sports Inc., William Scully Ltd., totes ISOTONER Corp., Flexfit LLC and Yupoong Inc. are few of the names among many others. Impacts The producers of hats and caps kept look for ways for the product streamlining in the process of production. A major breakthrough was achieved in the form of so called direct-to-garment inkjet printer (DTG). This was similar to the inkjet printer used in desktop pc. The difference was that the output in this printer was created on a fabric like caps or t-shirts rather than on paper. The best part of this is the fact that before ample amount of time was consumed in choosing the right colour and design but now the colour and design can be chosen on the screen without even applying the colour and once the final design was achieved, its manufacturing can be commenced. Another innovation was the use of fusing agent in the coloured inks which enabled them to permanently adhere itself to the cloth as soon as it was heat pressed. The only disadvantage of the printing technology was that the production was slow and compared to other conventional methods it was in small quantities. Last but not the least the introduction of the QR system was a major breakthrough in the industry as the barcodes that were placed on the tags of the product carried the information of the product in it. So, as soon as a sale was made the data was sent to the database in real time which helped in the identification of which product was being sold in demand and which is facing a setback. The key purpose of this was to minimise the delay that it took for the information to reach the manufacturer and then the production took place. During that time there was always of people choices changing or them getting over a product. Other major innovation was the use of laser for the cutting of cloth which gave the product a nice finishing touch and as this was handled through a computer there was no possibility of a design going wrong. Future Prospects The global headwear industry is expected to reach over US$7 billion by the year 2020. There is a growing awareness taking place among the general population regarding the melanoma skin cancer which can be prevented by staying protected from the sun rays. US represent the single largest market globally. Due to their improving financial status, discrete spending on the fashion industry and rate of employment is helping their growth rate. Asia is perhaps a major future prospect for the headwear industry as they have the fastest growing industry in the world today with over 4.6% CAGR. China and India both are among the list of emerging nations in the world with their population getting more and more brand and fashion conscious. They are also offering a wide range of choices in all their products in terms of style, fabric and color which are driving their growth majorly.