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We Asked Young Farmers How They Feel About the Rest of the World Stealing Their Look

Sales of flat caps have apparently gone up 83 percent this year. But what do actual farmers think about it? Are they furious that their style is being appropriated?

by Tom Usher
Jun 2 2016, 6:16pm

The cast of 'Peaky Blinders.' Photo: BBC

Modern fashion is weird. We don't have the generational identifiers previous decades had: We're not hippies, mods, punks, or breakdancers like people were in the olden times. Instead, we're all of those things, mixed up and amalgamated: a pair of flares here, some Stan Smiths there.

Take, for example, an item like the humble flat cap. It's classically seen as the go-to headwear for working-class caricatures like Del Boy, Andy Capp, and Guy Ritchie, or worn more practically by farmers, clay-pigeon shooters, and other countryside folk. But since the arrival of BBC drama Peaky Blinders, the flat cap has started to rub shoulders with wearers of snapbacks, bucket hats, and Carhartt beanies as the must-have item to cover up your terrible haircut.

That's according to Holly Clark, a men's accessories buyer at John Lewis, who said: "This year, we have seen the flat cap booming in popularity, undoubtedly thanks to the return of BBC2 's Peaky Blinders. Sales have continued to rocket as the series progresses, peaking at 83 percent compared to last year, the week that the third episode aired."

But what about the people who have always worn flat caps, those country dwellers who've always had their bonce covered in tweed, rain or shine, but mostly rain? What do they think of all these trendy city bastards stealing their look and frolicking in beer gardens and taking their trendy city drugs in their traditional hat of choice? We asked a few to find out.

Miles, 28


Photo courtesy of Miles.

VICE: What do you think about the sudden rise in popularity of flat caps? Are you furious?
Miles: They've been a very traditional thing to wear in the countryside for years when you're doing country pursuits. I always wear mine for shooting and when I'm out and about taking the dog for a walk, for instance. They are comfy and are surprisingly warm—plus they keep the rain off. Nowadays you see them being worn a lot more in rural areas, even on nights out.

But how do you feel about your style being appropriated like that?
I've grown up with it, to be honest, and it's always been the thing to wear in the countryside—it's the accepted form of cap. That with a Barbour, your favorite pair of matching tweed plus fours, and your chateau boots. I wouldn't wear one out and about in Manchester or London, though.

Why not?
I think one may get a few funny looks and perhaps punched in a city for being seen to go shooting. However, in Lancashire and Yorkshire, it's accepted.

Fair play, but the caps you wear are all the rage now because of Peaky Blinders, the show on TV. Do you watch it?
Yeah, I've seen it. They wear it with a different style, if you get me.

What do you think of people who wear it in that different style?
I'm not sure, really. I think of gangsters and stuff.

What's your favorite cap you own?
I have a Schoffel tweed cap I like in a Blenheim tweed, and another tweed Barbour one.

Oli, 32


Photo courtesy of Oli

VICE: What do you think about everyone wearing flat caps all of a sudden?
Oli: It's not the worst hat trend, I suppose. More practical than Pharrell's hat and smarter than the baseball cap. And you're more likely to be trusted by the elderly and the gentry with one on.

How do you feel about your style being stolen by all these trendy city people?
It depends what they match it with, I suppose. I wouldn't really call it my style, though—more headwear handed down from father to son. So it's actually quite nice that Shoreditch wankers are looking to be more like my dad.

Are you a fan of Peaky Blinders?
Yes, I do watch Peaky Blinders. I think it's marvelous. It's a nice look—very of the time, I suppose: smart, grubby chic. Although I wouldn't go all out on an outfit like that myself.

So why do you wear flat caps? You mentioned it being a hereditary thing?
As a kid, I wore flat caps because my old man did. I must have looked a little like a Victorian chimney sweep at times. But my dad was a country-dwelling type of bloke and shot things and sat in pubs with farmers. So I wanted to be like him and his mates.

Do you think they look cool in general?
Hmm. Generally, no.

Why?
I find they make good cover when it's cold. Or to hide Sunday bed hair down at the pub. My mate says I look like a fat old record collector when I wear mine, though. I think it's definitely a hat of the trip-hop generation as well. I bet people who work at Ninja Tune have a flat cap or two.

Izzy, 28


Photo courtesy of Izzy

VICE: What do you think about the sudden rise in flat cap popularity?
Izzy: I think my granddad would be pissed off—he used to have one for every day of the week. In this picture, I'm wearing his Sunday best. I grew up on a farm, and I'm pleased about it—it's a good look for a boy and a girl. I like hats—all hats apart from cowboy ones. They're shit.

Do you watch Peaky Blinders?
Nope. I don't have time for TV.

What do you think about people wearing flat caps because of a TV program?
I once dyed the front of my hair blond like Ginger Spice after seeing her on TV, so who am I to judge?

How do you feel about them being trendy now? Like fashion people in London wearing them.
I didn't realize, to be fair. But now I think about it, it's making me angry.

Why?
Do they wear cords, too? And fucking waist coats?

Yep, I'm afraid so.
Yeah, I'm not a fan. They would be shit-scared meeting some rum old Norfolk boy down a pitch black footpath at night wearing a flat cap.

Chris, 33


Photo courtesy of Chris.

VICE: Flat caps have apparently become really popular recently. How do you feel about that?
It's surprising. I doubt it's because of the practicality of them—I assume a celeb somewhere started it, or a hipster. But hey, they are comfortable and practical—that's why I wear mine.

It's actually because of the show Peaky Blinders. Do you know it?
I know it. Not got around to watching it yet, though.

How do you feel about people appropriating your farmer style like this?
If someone wears something because they like it or they feel drawn to it, great. If they are wearing it because other people are doing it and they want to be "edgy," then they need to evaluate their life choices.

What about you? Why do you wear them?
I began wearing one because I was spending an increasing amount of time around the shooting community. There is a certain dress code among the community; you're expected to perpetuate a certain image, for the sake of tradition. That's all good in my book. I'm pretty traditional at heart. I've never really been a fan of anything on my head, really, but when I started wearing my flat cap, it fitted.

Fair enough. What do you think about them now just being part of a trend? Does that bother you at all?
I'm very dismissive of fashion and trends in general. Trends will come and go—some fast, some slow. Maybe the flat cap is just a fleeting trend. Either way, I know I'll be wearing mine for the rest of my life.