Melissa Gage, of Beechfield, demonstrates a variety of distressing techniques that will transform a blank cap into a 90s grunge-inspired fashion item

The distressed look can be spotted up and down the UK, with teenagers everywhere wearing jeans that are more thread than denim while high street shops’ shelves are groaning with stacks of artfully ripped T-shirts and subtly frayed caps.

Melissa Gage, marketing assistant at Beechfield, explains: “The destroyed effect originates from the re-appropriation of the 90s grunge aesthetic and is now being rolled out by many youth-centric brands. Designer brands such as Dsquared, Givenchy and Twinzz have all released caps that demonstrate this look, and you can also find examples on Asos, and at River Island, Foot Asylum and many other high street retailers that stock headwear for a younger generation, including Primark and Forever 21.”

Noting the trend, this year Beechfield introduced the new Low Profile Vintage Cap (B655). This retro-inspired cap is made from a pigment-dyed cotton fabric that the brand says recreates the acid wash effect that is seeing a resurgence and is linked to the distressed look. It is available in vintage black, vintage denim, vintage olive, vintage red and vintage stone shades – and it’s great starting point for those looking to create the distressed look.

1. The first task is to equip yourself with all the necessary tools: safety glasses and gloves, pointed head tweezers, threadcutter, Dremel Multi-Tool, coarse sandpaper and pointed head scissors

2. For health and safety reasons, Beechfield recommends securing the Low Profile Vintage Cap in clamp. Any type of clamp will do. Those who don’t have access to a clamp can just hold the hat, provided they use gloves in case one of the tools slips while carrying out the distressing.

3. Before starting to make any cuts, think about what you’re going to do. “Too many cuts or frays and it will go from looking cool to clumsy ‘at the drop of a hat!’,” advises Melissa. She recommends an asymmetrical look so that the effect looks natural and random. For example, if you make a hole on the bottom left of the crown, try making an incision top right on your next cut.

4. As for the peak, a fray just off-centre will look better than a fray directly in the centre. If it is a subtle look you are trying to achieve, Melissa suggests one hole or fray on each of the vertical seams, two frays on the peak and a little on the buckle strap/fastener. If you want a more extreme distressed look, then you can introduce the diagonal ‘scratches’ on the peak and crown.

5. The Dremel head used here is the 22mm cutting wheel attachment. Beechfield recommends using a Dremel tool if distressing in large volumes purely for speed and ease. If you are using a Dremel you probably won’t need to use the smaller tools as it achieves the desired effect by itself.

6. If you do not have access to a Dremel and will be using smaller tools, Melissa recommends cutting the fabric with sharp scissors

7. The threads can then be teased out using the tweezers. The pointier, and therefore sharper, the tweezers, the easier it will be to catch the threads.

8. The pointed end of the scissors or the threadcutter can also be used to tease out the threads. Melissa advises: The smaller and pointier the scissors, the better.

9. The scissors can produce a very similar look to the Dremel if you have the patience. You will find that the fabric has a slightly more ‘fluffy’ look when distressed using the Dremel, as the tool subjects the fabric to extreme friction.

10. Use sandpaper if you want to further distress the fabric. For example, if you are not working on a pigment-dyed, washed fabric like that used in the Low Profile Vintage Cap, you may want to create some added texture by removing some of the surface dye from your cap.

11. The seams obviously have a double fold of fabric so you can easily distress the top layer of fabric without going right through the crown. Try to avoid the actual stitching as this will affect the structure of the cap. The edge of the peak looks great when distressed, but if you distress too far you will expose the plastic underneath which is often white and not very attractive – something to bear in mind when using sandpaper.

12. And there you have it – a few simple techniques that will result in a pile of bang-on-trend, ready-to-sell, distressed caps.

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Click the video graphic to watch Melissa distressing the caps