CLIQUE WEAR: The hoodie
“Rollin through the north and the west but I reps that east when I'm throwin’ up my hood they mistakin’ for peace” – Mistah F.A.B
“From A-Town, so I'ma put up my hood. You pay for what you get, determines whether you chief ridin'” – Goodie Mob
This week we’re reviewing hoodies, the centrepiece of the post-modern gentleman’s wardrobe…
The original hoodie standard was introduced by the brand Champion USA in the 1930s, and was immediately embraced by sports students and people working outside who were sick of freezing to death. And, just like the varsity jacket, the hoodie was taken in by high schools when non-sporting students started wearing them about town, mainly for the swagg.
The Champion hoodie is a masterpiece of style and technical prowess. It is made using reverse weave fabric, whose threads are sewn horizontally instead of vertically, which means the clothing keeps its original form and avoids shrinking vertically. Its extra-wide sleeves, waistband and sides, and the perfect proportion of the hood all add to its irreproachable style. The subtle logo on the left sleeve puts the finishing touches on this unequalled piece.
Robust, good value for money and cool, it was part of several trends at the end of the 20th century. In the early 70s, the hoody became the work uniform for graffiti artists and thieves in New York, who wore it for confidentiality reasons. The Californian skateboard and punk scene also adopted it. And just like several other well-known pieces of clothing, the hoodie made the leap between social classes, and now has contradictory meanings. Worn by a young WASP from Harvard it is the sign of a good education, but worn by Trayvon Martin it becomes a sign for a bullet in the chest for a “threatening attitude”.
Today the hoodie has come into the crosshairs of racism. It is unwelcome in several neighbourhoods in certain cities in England, New Zealand and the USA, where it could get you a police inspection and/or a ban from entering certain shops which actually sell them.
When LeBron James tweeted a photo of him and his Miami teammate wearing hoodies, it was partly to show their support for Trayvon Martin, but also to rebel against the NBA’s controversial hoodie ban in place since 2005.
When young fashion culture, urban style and preconceptions about origins are united by something as symbolic as a piece of clothing, and when wearing said clothing becomes a problem, the same cultures that adopted it become excluded in turn.