In the Seinfeld episode “The Foundation,” Julia Louis Dreyfus’ Elaine is left in charge of the J. Peterman catalog after her boss, John O’Hurley’s Peterman, runs off to Burma. In an ill-conceived moment of self-confidence, Elaine decides to put one of her own ideas on the catalog’s cover, introducing the world to “the Urban Sombrero.” Unfortunately for Elaine, the Urban Sombrero turns out to be universally loathed, and it’s a massive flop for the J. Peterman Company. As you might expect, then, Seinfeld fans have been begging the real J. Peterman Company to start making actual Urban Sombreros since that episode aired in 1996. Now, at long last, J. Peterman is going to try and make that arguably terrible dream a reality.
Peterman and his company have launched a Kickstarter to fund the development of new clothing items with thrilling, romantic backstories, and one of the items they’re looking to create is none other than the Urban Sombrero. In the Kickstarter video, Peterman refers to the hat as “a fun item” that he has “resisted for 20 years,” explaining on the page that he didn’t want to make it because it’s not “an authentic item” that people actually wear. After all this time, though, he thinks the Urban Sombrero has “served enough time in purgatory,” adding, “maybe it has earned its authenticity.”
The campaign is looking to raise $500,000 before May 20, and in addition to funding the Urban Sombrero, the money will be used to recreate a classic flapper dress and ‘70s-style motorcycle jacket. If it’s successful enough, the J. Peterman Company will also use the money to once again make itself the “unique, customer-focused, rule-breaking company” that Seinfeld so delightfully parodied all those years ago. As of this writing, the campaign has raised a little over $15,000.
Kickstarter backers who pledge enough money can get a pretty wide array of rewards, from stuff for Seinfeld nerds (a signed script) to stuff for J. Peterman nerds (a chance to go on a globe-trotting adventure with Peterman). The sweet spot, though, is an actual J. Peterman catalog signed by O’Hurley and the real Peterman with the Urban Sombrero on the cover. That’s almost better than the real thing, because then you don’t have to explain to anyone why you wasted money on something as stupid as the Urban Sombrero.