The Art and Obsession of Collecting Cycling Caps

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Iancu Barbărasă is in a cycling club. He’s also a designer and illustrator.

A few years ago, his worlds merged when he began collecting casquettes—traditional professional cycling caps that today double as fashion accessories in Europe and beyond.

And, well, one thing led to another.

As he asks in his short film “One Thing Leads to Another,” “If someone told you that in a few years, you’d have a collection of hundreds of things you don’t really need, what would you say? No way you’d do such a silly thing, right?”

At this point, Barbărasă could wear a different cap every day for nearly two years. He has Herman Miller designs from the 1960s. Caps featuring Charles and Ray Eames patterns. Handmade caps from his partner.

His charming film offers a look at the fascinating, kaleidoscopic universe of the cycling cap—and touches on the heart of collecting, and what we can learn from our own pursuits and obsessions.

Moreover, it’s a project that had every element working against its protagonist—Barbărasă had never produced a film before. He had no clue where to start. He borrowed a microphone from a friend, but recorded the initial voiceover with the mic backward the first time around. And so on.

Despite the odds, he utilized his lettering, design and storytelling skills, and emerged with a film that aligns with one of his stated goals: as Milton Glaser and Horace put it, to inform and delight.

“Hopefully my film will inspire people to start something of their own, or share what they’re already doing with other people,” he writes. “That would bring joy to everyone, and there’s never too much of it.”

Give the film a watch—and then delve deeper into some of the items in Barbărasă's collection below.