Sifting through endless articles of speculation on the future of the Viola bench in recent weeks—and the accompanying photos—I was struck once again by a feeling I’ve had for some time now: Fiorentina needs a sweet hat. This is not meant at all as a commentary on the coaching prowess of either Beppe Iachini or Vincenzo Montella, but simply as a dispassionate observation from someone who has amassed somewhere close to a hundred hats of favorite teams over the years, yet not one bearing a giglio.
The baseball hat in Italy for the most part seems to hold a purely functional role and, aside from the occasional Yankee cap, will almost certainly never crack the fashion industry the way it has here in the United States. Indeed, the official Fiorentina offerings have often felt like little more than novelty items, something to buy in case of rain or to combat the sun, and just as disposable as a poncho or cheap umbrella.
Again, from an Italian point of view, this all makes sense, and these hats have probably served their purpose just fine. But, if I, as an American with questionable hair, have not even considered buying one over now 20 years of supporting the team, it feels like a missed opportunity.
I’m clearly not the first person to point out some questionable looks (see previous image), and it’s not just my money the club is potentially missing out on. Every year (although not this one), around 10,000 American college students study abroad in Florence in the more than 50 programs in the city. Naturally, this cohort provides a huge boon to the local economy—somewhere close to 600 million euro in a single year. And, while I may have no documented evidence to back this up, based on my own experience, college kids buy a lot of hats.
To go even further, in 2019 Florence welcomed more than five million international visitors, and, as anyone who has been there can attest, a large percentage of these come from the US. None of this will be news to the new ownership group in Florence, but the real question is how they address reaching out to and engaging with the sizeable American presence in the city. A simple, nice New Era hat, frivolous though it may sound, would be the perfect place to start.
Here are a few mock-ups I made using the New Era custom hat generator. These took me all of ten minutes to put together and I’m certain someone with real knowledge and skill could come up with something far superior (or if not I can start Monday).
There are likely merchandising/sponsorship issues at play with an idea like this, some which are easy to imagine and others that I’m sure go way over my head. The only soccer hats currently for sale on the New Era website, for example, are for MLS teams, with most European club hats (if they even have them) made by a technical sponsor.
But why can’t Fiorentina be the first to make something like this happen? With the current ownership intent on making inroads in the American market, the timing is perfect. In an even greater sense, the project could also serve as a symbol of finally leveraging the immense global appeal and allure of a city like Florence, a city beloved by the millions who visit each year and inevitably carry a piece of it home with them. Why shouldn’t that be a nice hat?