Hoodie

hoodie by doug hucker

A hoodie is a sweatshirt with a hood. They often include a muff sewn onto the lower front, and a drawstring to adjust the hood opening, and may have a vertical zipper down the center similar to a windbreaker style jacket.

The garment’s style and form can be traced back to Medieval Europe when the formal wear for monks included a long, decorative hood called cowl worn a tunic or robes. The modern clothing style was first produced by Champion in the 1930s and marketed to laborers who endured freezing temperatures in upstate New York.

The hoodie took off in the 1970s, with several factors contributing to its success. Hip hop culture developed in New York City around this time, and the hoodie’s element of instant anonymity, provided by the accessible hood, appealed to those with criminal intent. High fashion also contributed during this era, as Norma Kamali and other high-profile designers embraced and glamorized the new clothing. Most critical to the hoodie’s popularity during this time was its iconic appearance in the blockbuster ‘Rocky’ film. By the 1990s, the hoodie had evolved into a symbol of isolation, a statement of academic spirit, and several fashion collections. The association with chavs/neds (UK working-class, youth subculture) in the UK developed around this time, as their popularity rose with that specific demographic.

Young men, often skateboarders or surfers, sported the hoodie and spread the trend across the western United States, most significantly in California. The rise of hoodies with university logos began around this time. Tommy Hilfiger, Giorgio Armani, and Ralph Lauren, for example, used the hoodie as the primary component for many of their collections in the 1990s. In Saskatchewan, the hoodie is often known as a ‘bunny hug,’ it is currently popular with Scene Kids (people who conforms to current trends), who have shaken off it’s dark meaning and made it a fun way of implementing cartoon features (kawaii, anime) in the outfit, e.g. monster eyes and spikes or kitty ears on the hood.

Angela McRobbie, professor of communications at Goldsmiths College in the UK, says the appeal of the hoodie is because of its promise of anonymity, mystery and anxiety. ‘The point of origin is obviously black American hip-hop culture, now thoroughly mainstream and a key part of the global economy. Leisure and sportswear adopted for everyday suggests a distance from the world of office suit or school uniform. Rap culture celebrates defiance, as it narrates the experience of social exclusion. Musically and stylistically, it projects menace and danger as well as anger and rage. The hooded top is one in a long line of garments chosen by young people, usually boys, to which are ascribed meanings suggesting that they are ‘up to no good.’ In the past, such appropriation was usually restricted to membership of specific youth cultures – leather jackets, bondage trousers – but nowadays it is the norm among young people to flag up their music and cultural preferences in this way, hence the adoption of the hoodie by boys across the boundaries of age, ethnicity and class.’

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