One of a Kind Katakana Caps
In prepping for our upcoming trip to Japan we knew we wanted to do some sort of special gift for our friends and dealers, so we hit up one of our sponsored riders, Koshi, to help guide Saisha in creating a unique cap that would both be generally awesome, as well as pay honor and respects to the Japanese culture.
He put us onto a number of traditional Japanese patterns and Saisha selected the hemp one, because of course she did. He then created a unique writing of “All-City” in Japanese Katakana which she used under the brim.
However our hat maker is Italian, not Japanese, and somehow during their transfer of her files to their system a piece of the Katakana got dropped and wasn't caught by us when we signed off on the proof. Leaving us with what you see below and crushing disappointment as our gift intended to honor our Japanese friends was now a well-meaning though incorrect Western mangling of a part of their culure.
The Katakana cap with incorrect katakana
So what to do?
We thought about throwing them all out, drawing it in with a paint pen, stenciling it in, etc. However, I happen to screen print for Bike Jerks and realized that through a convoluted one at a time process I could just screen in the missing piece in my workshop.
As the stitching on the hat and thus the placement of the missing piece varies from cap to cap, this was going to be a very manual and labor intensive project. Of the first 30 I screened, only 15 were deeemed good enough to make the trip. A 50% success rate was pretty dismal, but we weren't going to allow screwed up Katakana and we sure as heck weren't going to quit. Luckily with experience came better results and of the next 25 we only had to toss 5.
Caps on my workbench in my basement
Finished caps just waiting to be QC'd, not all would make the cut, and then have the ink set with the iron. This is another step in the process where things can go awry, because if you don't heat the brim up enough the ink won't set, but if you go too much the plastic insert in the brim will melt and get all wavy and weird.
We then decided that since we put a bunch of hand labor into it, we wanted to make the gift even more personal and special by getting all the members of the AC team to sign them. Sometimes when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, and we're really stoked to have these one of a kind mementos to hand out to our friends. Hopefully they'll become remembrances of good times had, and new friends made.
To all of the All-City supporters in Japan, we can't wait to see you soon!