The History Of The Hoodie

As we all know, the hoodie is simply a sweatshirt with a hood. From it’s appearance and the fact that it appeals to the younger generation, you would be forgiven for thinking that the hoodie is a modern invention. However, the origins of this cool top can be traced back to medieval Europe. In England, hooded clothing was recorded as early as the 12th Century. When you think about it, this does ring true: monks and priests wore hooded robes and still do. Friar Tuck in the Disney film Robin Hood wears a hooded tunic, although Robin himself has a collared tunic and hat (despite his name!).

Hoodies as we know today were actually first designed in the 1930s to be worn as winter workwear by labourers in the US. The hooded sweatshirt was beneficial for protecting the workers’ ears from cold winds. It wasn’t until the 1970s that hoodies became popular, but once it was glamourised by leading designers and worn by Sylvester Stallone in the famous film Rocky it became a gotta-have-it fashion item. At the same time, the emerging Hip Hop culture in New York adopted the hoodie, and this then spread to evolving teen cultures and young adult trends including skater groups and emos. By the 1990s, even universities and colleges began selling branded hoodies.

However, the history of the hoodie wouldn’t be complete without reference to the darker side of the seam. In Western countries, the contemporary hoodie has often been associated with criminality. In the UK specifically, there have been cases where shoplifters have hidden their identities using the hood. By year 2000, the hoodie was seen as an icon of antisocial behaviour and rebellion, especially when teamed with a baseball cap. By 2005 controversial bans were issued which prevented shoppers from wearing hoodies in certain retail centres. This only created social backlash and sparked protests and a “save the hoodie” campaign. In 2012, the shooting of a hoodie-wearing teenager in the US raised the item to a symbol of injustice.

It is interesting how one simple item of clothing has kicked up such a storm. Today, many people still fight against the blatant stereotyping faced by youths choosing to wear a hoodie. However, despite all this controversy, it remains a staple work and leisure wear garment for people of all ages and races worldwide. The older generations are beginning to add their support by wearing them, and even Zara Phillips, a member of the British royal family, has included hoodies in her range of equestrian clothing. Ultimately, they are designed for practicality and comfort, and so will always be a popular workwear essential.