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Actually, the Bucket Hat Never Went Away

If you weren’t getting drunk in 2015 wearing a bucket hat, your old ass is late to the trend

The Olds are back at it, once again uncovering a “new” trend that the Youths adopted five years ago. The bucket hat — a 360-degree-brimmed cap that makes its wearer look like a toddler — is back, supposedly. At least that’s what Esquire declared on Twitter this week. 

I love a hat with built-in full-coverage sun protection, so it’s nice to see the bucket hat get its due once more. But it’s erroneous to declare it a new trend in the year 2020. Rihanna has been out here rocking the bucket hat on repeat for half a decade. E! even ran an article in April 2015 titled “Can Rihanna Bring Back the Bucket Hat?” 

And here’s Rihanna in Versace in 2018:

What we have here is a classic case of the Olds deciding a trend is new because they didn’t notice it until now. Maybe they saw a skateboarder rock one on the street below their doorman- and central-air-equipped apartment, and it reminded them of their lost youth. 

Okay, I’ll cut my editor a little bit of slack. Menswear, specifically mass-market men’s lines, is often dragged kicking and screaming toward embracing anything remotely buzzy. Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones was right when she outlined the key to creating a trend: “First come the gays, then the girls, then the industry.”

What Samantha didn’t explain is who influences the gays. This leads me back to Rihanna. When a pop star trots out a new look, queer people tend to spend their entire paychecks trying to emulate their queens’ sartorial choices. (Lady Gaga currently has a cadre of gay men waiting months for a shitty hot pink jockstrap sold as merchandise for her new album, Chromatica.)

Of course, Rihanna is not solely responsible for the bucket hats’ big return. They’ve been a staple of hip-hop culture going back to the ’80s when LL Cool J, Missy Elliot and Run-DMC were known to rock Kangol bucket hats.

Rihanna, the wise businesswoman she is, was simply early to the revival trend. Models and fashionable celebs including Gigi Hadid, Dua Lipa and Kaia Gerber all subsequently said yes to luxury-brand bucket hats.

But, of course, menswear (and male lifestyle publications) are reluctant to take on any trend until they’ve seen a male celebrity embrace it. In 2017, rapper Lil Yachty partnered with, of all brands, Nautica as a creative designer in 2017. He’s produced a series of bucket hats for the brand, including a reversible royal blue and canary-yellow version.

NBA star Russell Westbrook, K-pop singer G-Dragon and even R&B legend Usher were all photographed in recent years wearing bucket hats. 

Over the past five years, lifestyle publications have foretold the return of a specifically cringe-y ’90s dad look. Refinery29 in 2014: “Calling It: Bucket Hats Are the Next Birkenstock.” GQ in 2017: “The Bucket Hat Is No Longer Style Kryptonite.” Vogue last year: “Top Off Your Summer Style With the Best Bucket Hats Under the Sun.”

As one of MEL’s two resident Gen Z reporters, I can tell you in my own experience that drunken, wannabe-fashionable teens at music festivals embraced the bucket hat in 2015 when H&M started telling them for cheap. 

If you don’t believe me, I’ll play my two ace cards to prove once and for all that the bucket hat is here. The two most sartorially influential young people of the moment made the headwear even bigger.

Billie Eilish in bright Louis Vuitton bucket hats:

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And Kylie Jenner with Prada on her head: 

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prada bae

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HQ days ??

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So, for the last time, please just let the bucket hat be back. What we really have to worry about now is this: If the bucket hat comes back, does that mean the dreaded fedora (or, I’m sorry, a trilby) be next? I’m happy to look like a ’90s kid. I will not be caught looking like a sleazy ’00s ukulele musician.