My Fall Look: The Original Stormy Kromer Cap, A Factory Visit

Picture 1In college, while on assignment as a costumer, digging through a Goodwill bin in a small Indiana town, I pulled out a ratty, six panel, dark green, buffalo check cap. Tied in a simple bow in front, it had an exterior hat band attached with seam tape to allow the band to slide up and down, “A brilliant idea for an ear cover,” I thought. The cap was invented by Stormy Kromer, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

GeorgeKromerGeorge “Stormy” Kromer. It takes a man like this to design a cap like that.

Each Stormy Kromer Cap is sewn with a patch that includes the following:

George “Stormy” Kromer was a semi-pro ballplayer and railroad engineer that always lost his hat to the gusts of wind that blew through the locomotive. So he asked his wife, Ida, to put needle and thread to one of his old baseball caps. The “Kromer” they created in 1903 is now legendary for its comfort, warmth, durability… and grip when the wind blows.

BobFreddyGeneral Manager, Freddy Pina and Owner, Bob Jacquart.

Imagine it, on a cold winter’s day at the turn of the century, railman Stormy asks his wife Ida to fix his hat to stay put on his head. First, she sewed ear flaps on the cap, which could be lowered up and down, depending upon the temperature outside. Then, she changed the angle of the visor ever so slightly, angling it downward so it wouldn’t catch in the wind.

CherylCheryl Bjork, Stormy Kromer’s Line Supervisor.

If the two girls who never returned my Kromers have any say, the caps Mr. and Mrs. Kromer came up with all those years ago, are as smartly designed as they are functional. Try one. See how long you hold onto it. As Lindsay Piper, a manager at Stormy Kromer informed me, “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to add any anti-theft features.” While it won’t blow off my head in a windstorm, I’ve yet to make it through an entire winter without losing my cap to a sticky-fingered friend.

DSC03680The Jacquart Fabric Products Factory. Apple Trees line the path between buildings.

The caps, once manufactured by the Kromer Cap Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were nearly lost to the pages of history, until Bob Jacquart, owner of Jacquart Fabric Products, Inc. learned of their possible demise and bought the manufacturing and distributing rights to the caps. Now the Upper Peninsula factory, located on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, proudly employs a number of the 8,000 Yoopers who call the area home.

Janice

Kim

LynnToday, from the railroad engineers, for whom the hat was originally designed, to Packer fans** and motorcycle enthusiasts, who pushed for the design of the brimless variety, everyone enjoys all the warm benefits of the cap designed by the madman they called “Stormy.”

*Picture 1A lover of the written word, after reading The Catcher in the Rye, I searched high and low for the cap Holden Caulfield wore. Of all the caps I found, the Stormy Kromer most closely matches Salinger’s description.

**Read more about the Officially Licensed Lambau Field Stormy Kromer Cap.

All images of the factory c/o Lindsay Piper, Manager at Stormy Kromer.

Comments

  1. That photo of Stormy is unbelievable. Interesting anecdote re: Holden. He’s the inspiration for the name of my blog. I’m not really familiar with that cover – was it the first edition?

  2. Max-

    Love the cap, but know I could never pull it off.

    I think I’d look like a bad version (is there a good version?) of Elmer Fudd.

    Best,

    JP

  3. Tough to pull off, but it does look cool. Great post.

  4. Damian Walker says:

    Another response from the Wyoming boy. In my
    part of the country the Kromer cap is also known as a bunting cap. To be recognized as a (male) local, it’s
    de rigueur to wear one, especially during fall season.

  5. I have two Kromer’s. A vintage red wool with black.
    And the newer waxed canvas. Both are bad ass.

    I think you guys that can’t “pull it off” should purchase a few as x-mas gifts for guys (or girls – girls in a Stormy Kromer are HOT!) who you think would like them.

    Let’s help support our American made products, buddies. And they need our help.

  6. I got the black one when I was visiting Wisconsin have not worn it yet though! Mister Mort teased me about it though…like always.

  7. Max,

    My Dad got me one for hunting season, can’t wait to break it out this fall.

    CN

  8. Damian Walker says:

    Took Mr. Guss’ cue and finally bought a black Kromer cap. He’s right: look sharp and buy American!

  9. Great post! ;-)

  10. karen (again) says:

    i think you may like this…great video….and at around 5:17 check out our man’s hat….it’s close.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZzFTTcdta0

  11. Max-
    I was just cruising the Stormy Kromer website to pick up a new Ida cap. As I was contemplating my size, I thought, “Max MUST write about Stormy on AllPlaidOut.” Low and behold, you already have! My dad’s a born-and-raised Yooper and has had one of these bad boys for as long as I remember. We just outfitted my new niece with her very first Stormy Kromer and I hope they’re around forever.

    Your old pal,
    Annette H.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Before heading on, I stopped at Rutabaga, an awesome paddlesports shop that’s been in business for more than a quarter century. The best part? It backs right up to the lake. Give yourself plenty of time when visiting this place. In the summer months, you can do on-water testing with most of the goods they sell. An embroidered Stormy Kromer cap. I love mine. [...]

Speak Your Mind

*