The History Of Hoodies
Hoodies are known to have existed in some form since the 1930s, but there is evidence to suggest that their history could even date back to the middle ages, when hoods became part of a monk's uniform in the form of a large cowl-neck cut, which could be pulled over one's head (not dissimilar to the current customised hoody fashion worn by the likes of chart-toppers JLS).
The modern hoody, as we now know it, was first made by Champion in the '30s and was marketed as a practical piece of clothing to be worn by labourers who worked outside throughout the winter in New York. It was then adopted by sports players and teams. At this stage, hoodies were customised for each team through hoody printing. The 1970s saw the hoodies be adapted into purely a fashion item, thanks to New York's developing hip-hop culture. However, 'hoody' only became a recognised term in the '90s.
As a fashion item, the hoody was first adopted by New York hip-hoppers as a statement of anonymity, at a time when hip-hop acted as a 'voice' for those that were being largely ignored by their Government and suffering social exclusion within their communities. It has been said that the hoody became so popular within this culture because it represented a level of defiance and a stand against corporate suits and 'the system'. As many hip-hop artists began to own their own businesses, many set about selling custom made hoodies. And the hoody remained a staple within hip-hop culture - which was embodied by a casual 'street style' - until the late noughties when mainstream success saw a more smart, high end style be adopted.
In the '90s the hoody was appropriated by skaters and surfers, initially in California and then internationally. The hoody's practicality appeals to surfers and skaters as it is warm and protective, but also easy to remove and put on whilst carrying equipment. Customised hoodies are still very much a part of the surfer/skater culture and stereotype, thanks to brands such as FatFace.
Around this time universities also took to hoody printing, creating brands for their students and sports teams. This has become an international norm, with most universities worldwide having branded hoodies available.
Now considered a mainstream fashion staple, the hoody did face a backlash in the mid-noughties in the UK, with right wing press synonymising the hoody with 'chavs', 'gangs' and crime. There was even talk of hoodies being banned in some public places within the country. This was supported by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who saw it as a move to combat anti-social behaviour. Luckily, after a 'Save The Hoody' campaign, which was supported by many musicians and public figures, common sense prevailed. But not before Tesco had hit the headlines for telling a 58-year-old teacher that she had to remove her hooded top before entering their Swindon store!
Global perceptions of hoodies vary; in Canada hoodies have no social connotations at all - instead being seen as a practical item worn for warmth; New Zealand actually have their own National Hoody Day, a pro-youth event which launched in 2008 with the aim of addressing youth stereotypes; and in the United States it is common for middle schools, high schools and college students to wear hoodies as part of their uniform.
Similar to jeans, hoodies have transcended their original utilitarian purpose and found their way into a variety of styles and purposes. However, some things will never change; hoodies are warm, cosy and practical, and provide a great uniform for students and companies - especially when branded, as they also act as advertising for the organisation.
Provided by Art Division, February 2012.
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