Gene Delos Reyes at the LATAGAN SA GITNANG SILANGAN event in Dubai last week. Over 3,100 caps were on display at the event. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Gene Delos Reyes is a man who wears many hats - literally. The 32-year-old Filipino actually has a collection of over 600 caps to choose from.

“Yes, I do have a huge collection,” boasts the Dubai-based media monitoring manager. He lets on that it includes some of the world’s most coveted pieces, including a Pewter cap, whose market value today is estimated to be around Dh65,000.

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Gene Delos Reyes, 32, has a collection of 600 caps which he keeps in special boxes at home. Image Credit: Supplied

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Phillip Austria, a fellow cap enthusiast, has a more modest collection of 150 caps, but he is equally proud of them.

“I began collecting caps in 2020 after watching The Last Dance, a television documentary on the basketball superstar Michael Jordon,” he says. “Ever since, I have realised that there are others like me right here in the UAE who are vintage cap collectors, or Vcappers, as I would like to call ourselves.”

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Phillip Austria with his personal collection of caps. Image Credit: Supplied

Forging a community as it were, Reyes of Bangketa.PH, supported by the United Arab Emirates Vintage Cap Collectors, decided to bring together like-minded Vcappers at an event in Dubai last week.

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“It was wonderful to meet people from our tribe, showcase our cap collections like they do in other parts of the world, and learn from each other,” said Reyes.

From left: Vintage cap enthusiasts Ian Fortin, Zel Ogoy, JayZ Cino, Phillip Austria and Lerry Matsunaga at LATAGAN SA GITNANG SILANGAN event that showcased over 3,100 caps in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

The response was overwhelming as 175 enthusiasts turned up, with 3,100 vintage caps to display.

“It was a celebration of nostalgia and style at the venue, a basketball court that we hired in Abu Hail for the evening. We called the gathering LATAGAN SA GITNANG SILANGAN, which means “laying them (caps) out in the Middle East,” said Austria.

Headwear history

In what was a spectacular show, the caps on display created headwear history.

The one-of-its-kind Pewter cap whose value is said to be Dh65,000. Image Credit: Supplied

“There was everything from classic snapbacks to iconic corduroy hats as participants brought out their decades-old possessions. I myself am a big fan of the NCAA Basketball League and began my collection with their alumni caps. There’s a story to every cap that every collector has, and that’s what makes these vintage caps so fascinating,” said Reyes.

The enthusiasts, largely Filipino men, were from all ages and backgrounds. They were accompanied by their families, with parents passing down their love for vintage caps to the younger generation, while seasoned collectors swapped stories and tips with newcomers, especially on how to identify fakes and guard against buying them.

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Zer Pen admires the sea of headwear, with some caps being relics from the 1960s to the 1990s. Image Credit: Supplied

Zer Pen, 41, said, “It was a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones with the same interest. Community spirit ran high and it was a memroable evening.”

Zer Pen said he was essentially a sneakerhead with 400-plus pairs of sneakers to his collection, “I got into caps in 2019 when I started buying them to match my outfits. Soon, I became a cap collector and I have around 300 caps in my personal collection.”

His most prized possession, he said, was an NBA Charlotte Hornetsdraft hat of Kobe Bryant from 1996. “I got it from Lost & Found, a reseller of vintage caps in Abu Dhabi. It is valued today at Dh2,000,” he added.

Among the sea of headwear, some caps that were showcased were relics from the 1960s to the 1990s, a testament to the allure of vintage fashion.

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The sea of headwear at LATAGAN SA GITNANG SILANGAN, each making a statement of its own. Image Credit: Supplied

Participants said they looked forward to more events such as these in the future as it united cap enthusiasts in a shared passion for nostalgia, style and camaraderie.

According to the organisers, “Each snapback tells a unique story, representing a moment in time, a sports team’s glory days, as fan or a brand’s iconic design. They evoke memories, spark conversations and add a touch of authenticity to the style. Like any other collection, there’s a thrill in hunting down rare finds and discovering the hidden gems that add depth. And collecting vintage caps is a way for others to preserve a piece of history and appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity of bygone eras.”