From publicist to celebrity agent, Josh Reed has worn many hats in his career. But only one really stuck around: the baseball cap. "I've always worn them," the 34-year-old Florida native says. "At red carpet events, I was known for wearing one with my suit. In a high-profile job, it's a great way to keep it low-key and have a signature style."
Fifteen years working in fashion PR circles have taught Reed a lot about the industry, but it took him a while to break out on his own. "I never set out to be a fashion designer," he says, "but I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I didn't train to design, but I did have the proper training in creating and directing a brand."
After a PR stint at David Yurman, Reed moved to Calvin Klein in 2006 and became the company's director of public relations. He decamped four years later, this time for the West Coast. Seeing A-listers hide under sports hats to elude the masses made him realize his own wardrobe staple was a key Hollywood accessory: "When I became an agent in L.A., I noticed that a lot of leading men wore baseball caps to hide from paparazzi. But they couldn't really find upscale baseball caps; they're all too sporty, with big logos. If these guys can't get a good baseball cap, then who can?"
Reed set out to fill that gap, working over two years to polish the design of his own hat line, called Gents. "I really wanted the shape to be perfect," he says. "A cap is like a pair of jeans: It looks bad if the fit is wrong." His first collection stays within the basic aesthetic of the classic baseball hat, but with minimal logos -- or none -- and a brushed cotton and spandex blend that ensures a snug fit. The brand's signature is on the inside, with taping in contrasting purple -- "Gents royal purple," as Reed dubbed it. "We want the cap to make a statement for itself. It's distinct, but we don't advertise the brand."
On top of his new collection of T-shirts and beanies (inspired by David Beckham and Ashton Kutcher), Reed plans to expand the line with new fabrics this fall. Expect cashmere, herringbone patterns, and a "tuxedo cap" in all-black satin. "I want Gents to become a true lifestyle brand," he says. "I don't want to limit it to just baseball caps. Gay or straight, men want to make a statement without standing out too much."