Wearing Hemingway’s Cap
J. Peterman Catalogue looks different from the bundle of similar offerings that arrive weekly in the mail. It is white; instead of assertive photos of male and female models, there are delicate watercolor renderings of clothes and merchandise. None of it appears too distinctive or special, until you start to look and read closer.
A shirt on sale is a copy of one worn by Thomas Jefferson, a striped t-shirt was spotted on Picasso in St. Tropez, and a long-billed cap once belonged to Hemingway. “He probably bought his in a gas station on the road to Ketchum, next to the cash register, among the beef jerky wrapped in cellophane,” – intones the catalogue.
How does it feel to wear a copy of Hemingway’s cap? Do you feel empowered? amused? – or does it make a cute conversation topic? (I am tempted to order one and try it out.)
These references to cultural history clearly endow J. Peterman merchandise with a certain aura. In a highly saturated fashion market, these humble, not-inexpensive caps and shirts are able to stand their own ground. Fashion industry is always the first to tap into consumers’ hidden cultural desires. I could see product and furniture design following suit. Could offerings like John Lennon’s bed be far behind?