The Cap Series: Johnnie Long
Johnnie Long, is a man that wears many hats, literally. From the time he graduated high school over a decade ago until now he has been known around the city to wear some of the coolest hats. Dating back to our physical location, Kreme Twenty-Four in 2011, Johnnie has been family and a supporter of things we have done.
Long is no stranger to helping others as he gets out in the community and helps feed the homeless, cleans up parks and more in his free time. He is on his way to opening his own non-for-profit organization, The Rendering Hope Project where he will be helping those in need around Indianapolis and beyond.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion to me means personality. I’ve never been an individual that cared about prices of material and what not. In the same sense I was probably more naive until I ran into y’all old spot KTF. Like I didn’t know about Japanese denim and things like that, I knew about H&M. I was putting fits together with basic materials but it was always like what felt good and what looked good to me. I was never an individual where I was following what everyone else was wearing.
Why are hats an essential part of your outfits?
I was big on 59 Fifty’s, I went to a military high school, so when I graduated I had a whole wall of 59 Fifty’s. Every week I was going to get a new one, my favorite was the New York fitted - always interchangeable every year like a pair of “butters”. For me hats were the icing on the cake, and I’m bald too so at one point I was fading out so I needed something on top of my head before I committed and shaved it all off.
But for more it was always the icing on the cake because you put a fit together and then you make the colors with the fitted it just always went together. Back then you wouldn’t catch me without a 59 Fifty on.
Then I got into snapbacks when they were popular because of some of the color ways. I was always basic, I always had a San Francisco, Colorado, and all the other basics because I knew I could put an outfit with it. It got to the point where I started to base my outfit off of my hat as opposed to the hat off of the outfit.
After so long, everybody knew I would have something fitted, so they were looking forward to what new fitted I had.
When buying a hat, what do you look for in it?
The style of the hats, the colors and the creativity behind it. If I like it, I’ll grab it, whatever I’m feeling at the moment.
What do you like most about the WDRFA Ebbets Caps?
When the hats started dropping I knew you guys were specific, y’all do things your way. For me it all started at KTF (Kreme Twenty-Four).
KTF was just a vibe. Everything started trickling into place from there in regards to the clothing that you were exposed to, the atmosphere that you were exposed to, like you knew these were cool individuals. For me KTF was every Friday but if I can get in there on a Wednesday, then I’m just in there. So after that when y’all started dropping the hats I knew they were different and the materials were good but as I learned more about the story and the meaning behind the brand it made me want the hats even more because like I say I love hats. I’m just proud to be a part of what y’all have going on.
What made you want to get out in the community and help people in need?
You know downtown (Indianapolis) you will see these individuals when you’re coming out of the club and they will ask for some change. It was always in the back of my mind like I’ll give you these couple of dollars but there really was no food out there where I really thought they were going to get something to eat. The closest thing in the immediate area are bars, bars, bars, liquor stores and more bars.
So I started to keep my money and the same money I would spend on the weekends or when we go out, I can just put these meals together for people. I keep it consistent when it’s nice out on a Sunday. I will go downtown with a cooler, my daughter will color the bags because she's big into art and then we would go out and pass out the sandwiches that we made. It was always just more of me treating individuals the way I would want to be treated if I was in the same situation.
Holding conversations with these individuals and building relationships so I can learn from them and pass knowledge. These people may vary from people who were up at one point and then lost it all financially, or people with mental health issues, emotional or just so many different things but it's unfortunate because most people won't even talk to them.
Even when you look at it now, the city is working on housing for the individual but they are not focused on the individual. So I always make an effort to let them know that I have a meal and if you want conversation I am here for that. In my car I keep clothes from Goodwill or that people donate, other essentials they need, underwear, shoes, socks and more.
This interview was done verbally and answers have been typed out by Michael Gillis.