Hoodwinked: The History of the Hoodie
You slept through your alarm and now have approximately 2 minutes and 27 seconds to get ready. You have a pounding headache from your late-night gaming sesh and just want to be comfy. You’re about to hit the street to train for track try-outs. What do all of these scenarios have in common? They compel you to reach for your favorite fashion catch-all: the hoodie.
But this innocuous piece of cotton had to come from somewhere, and I don’t just mean your closet. And for something you wear literally everywhere, the history of the hoodie is a lot more complex than you would think.
You only have to throw on your favorite period drama to know that the hood has been around for a long time (we’re looking at you, Daphne Bridgerton). But the hood goes back even further than Regency-era cloaks or even little red riding hoods. We’re talking ancient Greece and Rome—approximately 3,000 years ago. Since then, you could find them on monks, modest women, or adorning images of the Grim Reaper.
Hitting the Track
The hood got a makeover in the 1920s when the Knickerbocker Knitting Company, now known as Champion, started sewing hoods on their athletic apparel. These sweatshirts were designed to help keep athletes’ heads warm and became increasingly popular among colleges and sports teams as a way to display their logos. For decades, the hoodie was mostly associated with athleticwear until the 80s got a hold of it.
Streetwear and Hip-Hop
This is where the history of the hoodie collides with the history of streetwear fashion. This is when California skaters and east coast b-boys alike embraced cool, casual clothing, especially clothing that was easy to move around in. This made hoodies the perfect addition to the style. From here, everyone from music artists to high-end designers added their own spin to the hoodie.
Unassuming as it is, the hoodie has managed to garner mixed social connotations. Some have embraced it as a way to value comfort over flashy appearances. Others have shunned it because some, capitalizing on the anonymity of the hood, have used it as a way to hide their identity from the police.
This association, in part, lead to the unjust killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Martin was wearing his hood up when he was walking through a neighborhood when a neighborhood vigilante mistook him as a criminal and fatally shot him. After this, protests sprang up across the US. Protestors often donned hoodies, using it as a symbol of the way people use appearances to judge and condemn others.
From simple roots to designer fashions, from fame to infamy, one thing’s for sure, the hoodie isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Next time you’re dashing off to class or a workout, you may appreciate it a little more.