The Bucket Hat Comes Full Circle. | A Continuous Lean.

The Bucket Hat Comes Full Circle.

May 6th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher


Every once in a while the heavens part, the stars align, lightning strikes thrice, and we are all fortunate enough to bear witness to the perfect trend storm. This magical, unpredictable event, occurred this past year when the invisible hand of men’s style decided that it was time that the bucket hat make a comeback. Six or so decades after English fishermen and farmers began wearing these circular caps to shield themselves from both the rain and the sun, the beloved bucket hat was adopted by an unexpectedly youthful audience. The appropriation of the bucket by this younger market is hardly a coincidence though as it’s been driven by a variety of factors that are as cyclical as the hat itself.

First, we have to consider streetwear, as the bucket hat has long played a critical role in the construction of a rapper’s wardrobe throughout the years. The bucket hat was donned by LL Cool J, Run DMC, and Kurtis Blow as rap blossomed into a multi-faceted genre during the eighties. A decade or so later, the bucket hat was there on the heads of Jay-ZODB, and other East Coast rappers as they stormed onto the mainstream charts. The bucket hat reached its mid-millennial peak in 2004 when Cameron Ezike Giles a.k.a. Cam’ron of the Diplomats wore a camo bucket hat (actually a boonie hat if we’re being finicky) in the now-legendary video for his single “Get ‘Em Girls.” Kill Cam’s inclination towards more garish bucket hats has been echoed in recent years by a class of burgeoning rappers that were raised under the influence (both in terms of vocal style and actual style) of many of the aforementioned rappers. The bucket hat has become somewhat of an unofficial trademark for rising rappers including the likes of Schoolboy Q (who seemingly hasn’t been photographed sans bucket in years), Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Rocky, and Trinidad James.

Simultaneously, the bucket hat has experienced a revival amongst more classically tuned menswearians, specifically within the voracious Japanese market. It was not Kangol capped rappers that spurred this renaissance but rather the original bucket hat wearers of the sixties and seventies such as Gilligan, Hunter S. Thompson, (Take) Ivy Leaguers, and Serpico. Free & Easy street snaps began to showcase bucket hatted subjects, obscure Japanese lookbooks revealed multi-pattern dixie cup caps, and slowly but surely the bucket hat went from goofy to sought after. This shift of the tides grew into a monsoon wave once “dad style,” (which in of itself was a concept that can be traced back to Japanese men’s magazines) became popular here in America.


What’s most fascinating here is how these two seemingly disparate movements have now joined forces to thrust the bucket hat back into the contemporary chapeau conversation. Of course, brands like Orvis, Patagonia, and Filson have never ceased to make bucket hats, primarily from a utilitarian standpoint, but the contemporary collision of more “classic” menswear with streetwear has catalyzed this tremendous bucket hat surge throughout clothing brands large and small. Countless start-up streetwear brands have emerged over the past year to peddle tie-dye and all-over-print bucket hats, while on the more formal side of things, established brands have begun to pepper their accessories collections with bucket hats. Norse Projects, Lock & Co. Hatters, Engineered Garments, Moncler, York Street, and even Thom Browne and Junya Watanabe put out bucket hats this year, and that’s not even taking into account the countless Japanese brands such as Orslow that have just recently begun to bring their buckets stateside. The bucket hat now stands as one of the rare few items that transcends all styles, linking Supreme wearing streetwear heads with elderly gents on Madison Ave. So here’s to the bucket hat, a piece of headgear that truly brings men’s fashion full circle.


Comments: 16

16 Comments to “The Bucket Hat Comes Full Circle.”

  1. Jay
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 12:23 PM

    Who could forget OBD’s iconic usage of the bucket hat? 8)

  2. vanderleun
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 12:42 PM

    Crap then. Crap now.

  3. Matthew Pike
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 2:11 PM

    Not forgetting the casual lot too, I don’t think they ever stopped wearing them. Great piece on a pretty versatile piece of kit.

  4. Dave
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 2:21 PM

    I picked mine up a couple of years ago at J. Press. I was hoping for the navy but they didn’t have my size. I usually wear it to the beach. I remember years ago as a teen in the 80′s I bought a kangol bucket hat, sans fur. I pulled the trigger that day, but I gave in to peer pressure (i.e., ridicule) and returned it the next day. Ohhh, what could have been…

  5. Ray Hull
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 3:06 PM

    My fav was yellow with ‘Lester Lanin’ embroidered on the brim…tossed at us at a Saratoga Performing Arts Ball, a hundred years ago. Now, I’ve a soft plaid Barbour number that crumples to nothing for you pocket.

  6. Carrie
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 3:30 PM

    NPHC at my school gave all the neophytes bucket hats. Looks nice if you have the head for it.

  7. Pags
    on May 6th, 2014
    @ 8:36 PM

    I always figured Gilligan’s hat was a Navy Dixie Cup cover that he wore with the brim pulled down.

  8. Gustaf
    on May 7th, 2014
    @ 2:48 AM

    I´m inclined to side with Matthew here.

    On this side of the Atlantic, the return of the bucket hat is most def linked to renewed interest in the casuals style born on the terraces.

    Which in itself is an effect of general fashions interest in 90′s sportswear on one hand, and guys clutching at style representing traditional manly values in these times of gender identity turmoil on the other.

  9. Nora Gouma
    on May 7th, 2014
    @ 12:13 PM

    I am not a big fan of these caps…..They look outdated now…..xoxoxo…^_^

  10. Jat
    on May 7th, 2014
    @ 2:57 PM

    The bucket hats were popular with British musicians and fans during the so-called “Manchester scene” during the 80”s–presumably emulating American rappers.

  11. doane
    on May 7th, 2014
    @ 5:56 PM

    Bez lives

  12. Andrea
    on May 7th, 2014
    @ 10:50 PM

    In an undefinable color that is the result of many summers on salt water, maroon and navy band still gamely hanging on – nobody wears the bucket hat like older east coast WASP gentlemen. (Horn rims not required, but a nice finish.)

  13. Arnold
    on May 8th, 2014
    @ 7:19 AM

    I love the Bucket Hat. I wear the bucket hat of my grandfather and he loves it whenever I wear those hats.

  14. Johnny Boy
    on May 8th, 2014
    @ 4:11 PM

    Reni (drummer) from Stone Roses carried it off with aplomb in late 80s. Legions of Glaswegians were wearing them last summer at their Glasgow Green gig. Jack Nicholson looks stylish wearing his. Gilligan looks like a twit…

  15. Ovemandown72
    on May 9th, 2014
    @ 4:55 PM

    Great hat that for some has never gone away. Ever since my parents gave me one to wear in the early 70′s it’s Ben a firm favourite, and will remain so when it becomes victim to overkill.

  16. Geoffrey
    on May 14th, 2014
    @ 10:52 PM

    I can’t imagine this trend will last very long. Although it was one of my favorite accessories in the summer after I graduated high school, I think I will just leave it there. I think this bucket hat fad owes much homage to the ever-so popular revival of the fedora. However, as I believe the fedora and porkpie have the ability to hit mainstream, I don’t think the bucket hat will last.