top of page

How to Find a Custom Cap Manufacturer

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

So you want to add baseball caps or hats to your brand's product offer? Caps are a great way to add variety to your product line and also are a great seller, totaling USD 17.49 Billion in revenue in the US in 2021. By comparison, t-shirt sales in the US in 2021 were US$38.7 Billion. Given the crowdedness of the t-shirt industry, we find it surprising that cap sales are nearly 50% of t-shirts. As a one-size-fits-most (OSFM) product they can be easier to sell and stock and are a great addition to many growing brands' product lines.

But you first have to find a good cap supplier. Here are a few tips to help you in that process.

Where to Find a Cap or Hat Manufacturer

We like to encourage brands to work with ethical or sustainable manufacturers. There are a number of networks that help brands find ethical manufacturers such as Common Objective, Thr3efold, or ethical sourcing services like To The Market. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of baseball caps available from suppliers in these networks. Caps are often seen as sports apparel items and generally come from big factories in China and Vietnam where it is hard to verify ethical or sustainable practices.

You can try sourcing at big trade shows. Magic is the largest for fashion but may be limited for caps. Outdoor Retailer has a sourcing section that includes cap suppliers. If your brand focuses on a particular sports activity (baseball, fishing, surfing, cycling, etc), try trade shows for that particular industry.

Finally doing some online searching can generate good results. Just Googling can give you some interesting leads. You also can try through big sourcing platforms like Alibaba or IndiaMART, but if you're sourcing through these networks make sure to vet them thoroughly for ethical practices using the advice below.

Quality Caps and Hats

Many customers tell us that they struggled with their last manufacturer because of quality issues. Caps are very sensitive in terms of sizing; a small change will make them fit very differently. Cap wearers often have a particular style that they like, and they go back to it time and again. If your supplier's sizing and cap shape fluctuate, you will end up with customer complaints.

Likewise, not all cap construction is the same. When you hold a cap in your hands, you can feel the difference between a well-made cap and a poorly made one. A few things to look for to verify quality construction are stabilization tap along the bottom edge behind the sweatband, top stitching along the seam where the visor connects, quality of the back closure snaps or fasteners, and consistency of shape, fit, and symmetry. Ask for samples from your supplier before starting a relationship.

Decorations can also cause common quality issues. Look for crooked or poorly affixed embellishments, embroidery with poor finishing, or other graphic design mistakes such as misspellings in logos. Although you'll probably need to pay setup fees, ask the manufacturer for a sample before confirming a large order.

Visit the Cap Factory

Caps are quite different from garment cutting and sewing. To make them consistently, the manufacturer needs special sewing machines, attachments, and presses. If you can, go visit the factory and find out if they really specialize in caps.

Social Compliance, Sustainability, and Quality Control Certifications

Certifications don't guarantee a high-quality supplier, but they do go a long way in showing the manufacturer's commitment to quality, sustainability, and ethical practices. There are many types of certifications (you can read our previous blog about this subject here). Look for certifications that can give you peace of mind about issues you care deeply about such as WFTO for the ethical treatment of workers, OEKO-tex for sustainable fabrics, and ISO-9001 for quality. We find that a factory with a certification in one area probably is overall more professional and capable in many areas.