The Evolution of the Hoodie: From Streetwear to Fashion
From insta-ready influencers with a street-style edge to Silicon Valley tech geeks, everyone is in love with the hoodie. But how has this casual garment become such a universal closet staple?
Hoodies are extraordinarily versatile. Not only is it a must-have piece for those days when you really can’t be bothered to think about putting together a complex outfit, but it also plays a significant role in our shared cultural history.
Think about it: is there any other item of clothing that more accurately represents anti-social, anti-establishment sentiments? We don’t think so, and neither do many legit fashion historians.
Allow us to take you back to the 1930s, just for a moment…
The Origins of the Hoodie had an Entirely Practical Purpose
In the 1930s, the hoodie made its first appearance in the retail space. It was designed purely from a practical perspective and kept athletes warm during training. It wasn’t long until blue-collar workers got in on the warming action and eventually the hoodie would garner itself a bit of a reputation on the streets.
Counter-Culture and the Hoodie
Interestingly, practicality was also a key factor here. The hood offered a certain amount of protection for those getting up to no good on the streets, allowing them to get away with more and more petty crimes.
In the 1970s, hoodies became the go-to garment of graffiti artists. During the 1980s and 1990s, skaters and members of the hip-hop scene also adopted it as a favored fashion item. In fact, the hoodie played a starring role in Juice, which was released in 1992 and starred Tupac Shakur. The hoodie is also present on the now-iconic cover of the debut album released by the Wu-Tang Clan.
Hoodies also started cropping up in Hollywood blockbusters. Think Dustin Hoffman in The Marathon Man and, of course, young Elliot in E.T. The Extraterrestrial. Find us a kid who didn’t want a red hoodie just like Elliot’s in the early 1980s - it’s simply not possible! Top tip: grown-ups who are big kids at heart can replicate this look in their contemporary casual closets with a Maroon Pullover Hoodie.
Counter-culture and the hoodie became two peas in a pod, but its evolution wasn’t finished there.
A Detour Back to its Squeaky-Clean Origins?
Notably, the hoodie has an entirely separate thread that is far different from the counter-culture scenes it dominated. When flipping through old issues of Vogue magazine from the 1970s, it never takes long to spot a leggy model wearing a hooded sweatshirt and posing up a storm for the camera.
The hoodie has also maintained a presence within the resort and leisurewear trends, which surprisingly connects some of contemporary history’s most notable counter-culture movements and the perfectly groomed individuals who frequent country clubs across the world.
The Hoodie Became a Go-To Garment for the Tech Savvy
During the beginning of the 21st century, the hoodie became a staple item for tech-minded recluses who would pioneer the advancement in Silicon Valley.
After all, hoodies offer plenty of warmth and comfort, which is precisely what you need when sitting in front of a screen for long stretches of time and fundamentally transforming contemporary culture forever.
What Does the Hoodie Mean Today?
Contemporary hoodie designs are expertly merging its humble origins with the preppy style popularized in the 1970s to lean into the athleisure trend. But there’s also something else happening, as some of the biggest labels release hoodies with eye-watering price tags. Although initially this might seem like a huge step away from the core purpose of the hoodie, this can also be seen as counter-culture for the contemporary generation.
The hoodie has been at the heart of a large percentage of the most significant cultural conversations over the last 100 years. Contemporary designers are drawing on this rich history and incorporating them into their high-fashion collections precisely because hoodies have such a rich and widespread background.
Over the course of a century, the hoodie has been part of myriad counter-culture moments and has ultimately managed to insert itself into the heart of fashion conversations happening among trend watchers and this generation’s most exciting designers.
The Future of the Hoodie
One thing is certain: the hoodie isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, we’re willing to bet it will be with humanity for as long as we continue to exist. And, excitingly, hoodies are unlikely to slip into the background, which means that they will continue to sit at the heart of cultural movements and trends long into the future.