The ups and downs of the hoodie


Almost everyone owns at least one hoodie. This warm, comfort garment, available in an array of colours can be found zip fronted or pull-over style. It’s our go-to garment for all occasions now, even being seen on the red carpet in recent months.


So where did it all begin? Well, apparently the Greeks are credited with the first hooded garments, but as they invented pretty much everything else, perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us. Monks, men and women of medieval Europe and fighters during the Norman Conquest, all wore hooded attire.


In more recent time it’s development started growing in the 1930s with a knitting mill in Rochester USA. They began updating their machines to allow them to sew thicker materials, changed their name to Champion and started producing hooded sweatshirts for the US military. Soon after they were asked to make oversized hooded sweatshirts for American footballers to keep them warm while they sat on the benches during games.


Fast forward to the 1970s and Sylvester Stallone was seen wearing hoodies in the film about a boxer named Rocky. Suddenly hoodies were in high demand, especially amongst the working classes.

The university in Michigan USA, was the first to order sweatshirts and pants for their sports students. Other universities followed suit and then the status of the hoodie was further elevated when universities began printing their town names on them, these were snapped up by the students looking for easy-wear, tough clothing with an element of prestige.


In 1981, high-end, New York designer Norma Kamali created an entire collection from grey sweatshirt fabric, called Sweats. It was inspired by her love of a grey sweatshirt she had bought from an ex-military wear store years before. Now sweatshirts and hoodies were acceptable sport inspired clothing for all occasions.


By the early 1990s skateboarders had adopted the hoodie as their best friend whilst spending hours out in the elements attempting mind boggling stunts. Non skating youth were quick to jump on the trend in hopes of finding their own identity. Not all hoodie wearing youth were sporty and they began to be seen being worn by groups of youth simply hanging out together.

In 1993 Gangsta-rap artists WuTang Clan released an album cover depicting themselves, ghost faced, dressed in black hoodies, hoods up. Further adding to the image of menace that the media was fuelling.


Hoodies started to get a bad name, being associated with criminal behaviour, the hood allowing for a certain anonymity and making identification of individuals difficult especially on CCTV. Around 2005 some shopping centres and schools banned the wearing of hoodies. This was a sad time for the hoodie, which was previously worn with good intention, its only rebellious aspect being the opportunity to wear a statement showing what you stood for or supported.


Thankfully over time and with the help of designers like Raf Simons, who continue to release collections including sweatshirts and fashionistas showing us it’s possible to mix hoodies into our current wardrobe and look great in a sweatshirt and floaty skirt, we can all breathe easy knowing our favourite garment is here to stay. Recently Vogue announced that the hoodie was back, so now it’s official: this functional, comfortable and stylish wardrobe staple is bang on trend and everyone really should own at least one.


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