A Hooded History
The humble hoodie. Berated by politicians, worn by the masses. From streetwear, to uniform, to the catwalk. A symbol of rebellion, a symbol of togetherness, a symbol of status.
Few items of clothing are as versatile as the hoodie: from kids on a field trip, to those making a fashion statement worth thousands of pounds. With many of us having a collection taking up much wardrobe space it feels as though this item of clothing has been present for years, which would be correct. But where did the hoodie we know today originate?
We start way back in European medieval times, and monks. Monks are thought to be the first to don a hood, known as a cowl, which attached to their tunic. Like today the key purpose was to keep the wearer warm, particularly those who spent much of their time in unheated churches. However functional the hooded tunic was, it seems to have stayed out of mainstream usage until the early to mid-20th century.
Moving across The Atlantic, the 1930s was a decade defined by the Great Depression and the opening of the Empire State Building. During this time, The Knickerbocker Knitting Company, now known as Champion Products, re-introduced the hooded sweatshirt concept. The addition of the hood to the well-loved sweatshirt was designed to primarily provide additional warmth to laborers and athletes - their main demographic.
The popularity of the hoodie grew through the decade and evolved into a personal statement. As we’ve seen with the rowing blazer, sports stars and college students began to showcase their allegiance through their clothing away from the track and lecture halls.
As the century progressed the hoodie transitioned from not just a practical item of comfort, but a cultural symbol. With the release of Rocky, showcasing Sylvester Stallone sporting a grey hoodie running up the steps of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, the fashion item became associated with hard work.
The emergence of hip-hop into mainstream music also assisted in pushing the hoodie into the spotlight, with rappers modelling themselves after athletes to emulate strength and status. Fashion designers, such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, soon joined the growing trend by including the once-humble hoodie in their collections giving a high-end look to the popular garment.
With comfort and style combined it's of little surprise that the hoodie has maintained and cemented its popularity. From celebrities modelling priceless designs, to the obligatory club colours, the hoodie is certainly here to stay.
words by Eleanor Brinkhoff & David Peake