FIRST LOOK: Ranking the 20 coolest pieces of MLB fan swag for 2018

CHICAGO -- CBS Sports had the opportunity to attend this year's MLB Retail Summit, an annual two-day event for Major League Baseball licensees, retailers and Club buyers. It consists of a trade show and Spring 2018 line presentations -- so we're talking wearable merchandise, which fans -- this one included -- love. Some of what you're about to see became available not long ago, and others are coming soon. A lot of it, though, won't be available for purchase until the spring of 2018. So consider this a sneak preview of sorts.

Baseball fans, of course, love to rep. While NFL rooters tend to content themselves with the jersey of their chosen gladiator, the baseball enthusiast requires more care and feeding when it comes to matters of high fashion. That's why you're about to see a lot of different stuff -- some outside the norm, some of a "classical revival" bent. Either way, join us as we frolic through the sun-dappled meadows of durable textile goods. Because this is the internet, where things are ranked, we'll rank the 20 coolest things we saw at the 2017 Summit ... 

20. Team flip-flops from Havaianas

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MLB's partnership with this Brazilian manufacturer of flip-flops and sandals begins in spring training 2018, and some team designs are already out. 

19. MLB gym shorts from Loudmouth Golf

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Loudmouth Golf of course is the purveyor of the heavyweight championship attire spotted during the 2015 NLDS. What you see above is suitable for lounging, balling, or playing a round at a more egalitarian public course. 

18. Alternative Dodger hats from New Era

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So pretty cool local color here. The fond kind of evokes Eazy-E, N.W.A. and the late-80s/early-90s L.A. rap scene, while also name-checking the year in which the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. 

17. Jimmy Fallon's "Hands High" apparel from G-III

Remember when Jimmy Fallon came up with this idea?

Well, it's been a thing for a while -- an actual thing available in exchange for redeemable currency. On display at the retail summit was this Hands High installment starring the reigning champs ... 

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Pits don't lie, people. 

16. Leggings from Loudmouth Golf 

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Something for the ladies? Sure. Or, if you're of the male persuasion, think of them as form-fitting Zubaz pants. While you're at it, think of Colin Montgomerie in them. 

15. MLB deck shoes from Eastland

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For the baseball-observing yachtsman and or coxswain. 

14. Mike Trout jersey from G-III and Carl Banks

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MLB's making a point to get its young stars more out there as the NBA has done so well for so long. Jerseys and shirseys have been around for a long time, of course, but don't be surprised if you start seeing more player-branded items like this pretty nifty one. Looks a little football-ish, especially with the mesh, which works because Trout could absolutely be nicknamed "Two Tight End Set."

13. Baseballs from Rawlings

Pretty fundamental item here, no? Check out these team-themed cowhides ... 

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And as a bonus, here's the official All-Star Game ball (middle) and Father's Day ball (right) ... 

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12. "Game of Thrones" shirts from Liquid Blue

Not so long ago, MLB partnered with HBO's "Game of Thrones" to target the younger demo, so consider what follows to be the natural next step ...

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11. MLB sneakers from Row One

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Love that smiling bird logo. Row One features multiple sneaker designs for each team. Also, note that insert. Would wear!

10. MLB denim from Levi's

The national pastime plus a classic American brand seems like an overdue pairing ... 

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Team patch on the jacket, always cool. That's a denim hat, by the way, and it's a collaboration between Levi's and New Era (more on that duo in a moment). Also, dig that iconic Levi's tag on the hat ... 

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9. MLB T-Shirt Club by SustainU

Great idea here. SustainU, which uses 100 percent recycled fabrics and makes their products here in the U.S., has launched an MLB T-Shirt Club for this season. They'll cook up unique t-shirt designs tied to special events throughout the year and ship them to you periodically based on your style preferences (they also say they're planning on make-your-own-shirt kiosks in ballparks). Also, you receive your shirts in what this scribe declares to be The Greatest Cardboard Box in the History of History ... 

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Thine eyes do not deceive: That's a home plate-shaped box with the appearance of baseball stitching on it. It contains a t-shirt and calls to mind wholesome and restorative pizza. It is good, I say. 

8. KISS shirts from Liquid Blue

As a band, KISS is overrated (although "Black Diamond" is a solid enough tune), but as enablers of kitsch they continue to come in strong. See below for evidence of this stirring claim ... 

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That it also calls to mind the Baseball Furies is a pleasing bonus. Would purchase, wear. Would not listen. Except to "Black Diamond." Hey, let's listen to "Black Diamond" ... 

7. Team sweaters from Hillflint

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Those are pretty solid -- nice use of the "varsity sweater" look. It takes a confident rooter to brandish a cardigan, but the opportunity is there if you want it. You might be asking: Do they traffic in luxurious cashmere?

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Yea and also verily: They traffic in luxurious cashmere. 

6. 2017 All-Star Game hats from Levi's and New Era

Speaking of that Levi's-New Era collaboration noted above, here's a first look at their white denim hat for the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami ... 

Speaking of the All-Star Game, a Levi's rep tells CBSSports that they some pretty cool plans for Miami. Those plans involve customization booths where fans can add MLB patches, buttons and even airbrushing to their denim jackets. 

5. Mascot socks from Stance

Stance churns tremendous sock designs on the reg, but until now mascot representation was lacking. Those dark days are no more ... 

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4. Old-school World Series hats from American Needle

Great to see the vintage World Series logos make their way back to these righteous lids ... 

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3. MLB team mountain bikes from Lucky Explorers

Yep, team mountain bikes ... 

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And the Cubs' version has a fetching color scheme ... 

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2. Upcycled womenswear from Refried Tees

Great idea here. Refried Tees takes overstocked, discontinued, and slightly imperfect tee shirts and "refries" them into skirts, dresses, tanks, and tops for ladies and girls. As you're about to see, some pretty creative designs come out of the wash ... 

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And ... 

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1. Interchangeable shoes from Fan Kicks

Man, these are just outstanding. Take a look ... 

So what's up with the unzipping and removal seen above? Well, these are interchangeable shoes. The shoe "base" remains the same, but you can swap out the tops ... 

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Yep, each one of those team tops you see above can be swapped out on the same base with the pull of a zipper. Mix and match if you want. Rep two different teams if you want. People, these stole my consumerist heart. 

And there you have it. Disagree with the above rankings? The freedom to be wrong remains an important freedom. So it is with the 2017 MLB Retail Summit. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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