History of Society Brand Hat Co.

Society Brand Hat Co. was established in 1920 after Modern Cap Mfg. Co. was reorganized into a new business and renamed.  Prior to the reorganization Modern Cap Mfg. Co. had been operating in St. Louis since the 1880s.  Society Brand Hat Co. was headquartered in the heart of St. Louis’ garment district on Washington Avenue.  During the 1920s and 1930s Society Brand Hat Co. made a name for themselves as a maker of quality men’s fur felt and straw hats, while fulfilling smaller contracts for uniform caps.

Business greatly increased during WWII with the expansion of the U.S. military.  Already the largest hat maker in Missouri, Society Brand Hat Co. quickly became one of the largest in the country, manufacturing hundreds of thousands of caps, and employing several hundred employees.  In addition to fulfilling contracts for service caps, garrison caps, A-3 mechanic’s caps, fatigue caps, and cloth flight helmets, Society Brand also offered custom tailored caps for service men who wanted a cap constructed with the finest materials and didn’t mind paying the premium price.  They also offered their own brand of “crusher” caps which they marketed specifically to airmen.  These caps displayed superb craftsmanship which easily rivaled the more famous Bancroft Flighter.  It was during WWII that Society Brand Hat Co. became known as “The Finest Cap in the Service.”

After WWII, Society Brand Hat Co. returned to manufacturing civilian hats, which were sold in the finest department stores of the day, including Famous-Barr and Stix, Baer and Fuller.  In addition they continued to receive orders from the U.S. Government for service and garrison caps for the Army, Navy, and Marines.

By the mid-1960s the social status of the hat was waning, and fewer and fewer men considered a fedora a necessary accessory.  Society Brand managed to just stay afloat on military contracts until the end of the Vietnam conflict, but with the downsizing of the military came a cancellation of further contracts.  To make matters worse, the company was already suffering financially from a series of crippling lawsuits involving their wool suppliers.  By the early 1970s the company was forced to sell, and they merged with a civilian sportswear company.  With the sale came a name change, and after nearly 20 years producing civilian apparel, the company was forced into bankruptcy due to the lower cost of producing goods overseas, becoming yet another victim of outsourcing.  After operating for nearly 100 years in St. Louis, Society Brand Hat Company’s facilities closed their doors for good.

It has been almost a half century since the Society Brand Hat Co. logo has been applied to a piece of headwear, and we are proud to bring back the name.  We strive for the same excellence that made Society Brand Hat Co. famous as “The Finest Cap in the Service.”  We are also proud to make our caps in Society Brand’s hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, using only the finest materials produced in the United States.  We look forward to continuing a legacy, and we are grateful for customers’ support in our endeavor.

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