Hoodies- The Real Life Invisibility Cloak?

We can’t all live in the Harry Potter universe can we?

Chances are you’re wearing a hoodie as you read this. Hmm, all 3 of you…

Whether you’ve just eaten too much pizza, or you just aren’t interested in spending 2 hours playing dress-up just to look presentable before leaving the house- hoodies are a staple in all of our closets.

It helps us achieve that coveted ‘effortless’ look without having to actually put in any effort.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post consisting of a few tips and tricks of how to stay sane during the lockdown. However, I failed to mention the most important tip: own like…a thousand hoodies. If you’ve had a video conference with me anytime over the past year, I’m sure you can testify to the fact that I’m always wearing a hoodie.

I can’t even tell you how many times over the past few months that I’ve had to quickly turn my camera on during online classes; whether it be a spur of the moment test (it wasn’t spur of the moment, I just forgot), or a group project video call; where a hoodie has literally saved my life.

There were even times where I could go from the whole ‘hipster homeless man’ look to the effortless ‘I still look incredibly dishevelled, but just slightly more put together’ look in just a few seconds.

Or ‘BoHeMiAn,’ as some of you are still trying to convince yourselves.

As I simultaneously pull a hoodie over my head while typing this sentence, I can’t help but wonder why hoodies are so comforting? I mean, there must be some sort of explanation behind why a simple article of clothing can do so much for our comfort levels and overall psychological state.

Where did they come from? I’m pretty sure the founding fathers didn’t also own a grey NASA hoodie. Right? Any historians in the comments?

Also why are they so damn expensive? I won’t be able to answer that question for you.

Side note to all the people that interact with me on a day to day basis- my birthday’s coming up in a few months. Size Medium.

Today I’m going to be talking about the history and evolution of hoodies, as well as the psychology behind why they helps us feel so much better about being home alone on a Saturday night.

1930s: Invention

Hoodie Catalogue 1935
A catalogue from 1935

In the late 1930s in upstate New York, ‘The Knickerbocker Knitting Company,’ now widely known as ‘Champion,’ was the first manufacturer to design and produce the modern hoodie as we know it today. They marketed it as a practical and functional solution for workmen and labourers that worked in extremely frosty New York warehouses.

Although sweatshirts were already a popular clothing choice, the hood was added to protect them from the elements during bad weather.

Soon after, they were adopted by labourers and even athletes everywhere.

1950s: A Personal Statement

Hoodies began being worn outside of the labour workmen force and athletes in the 1950s as high school teenagers began focusing on clothes as personal statements instead of just practical garments.

This is approximately the period where women would also begin wearing hoodies. High school athletes would gift their girlfriends their sportswear hoodies as a personal symbol of affection.

I guess that explains why your girlfriend keeps stealing all of your damn hoodies? I certainly don’t have that problem! (no guys seriously I’m single).

Over the next decade, schools and universities began designing and selling their own hoodies adorned with their logos and mascots.

1970s: Rocky and Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali Hoodie Designs
Noma Kamali’s Designs

With the emergence of hip-hop culture in New York in the 1970s, hoodies slowly started becoming synonymous with rap and punk culture.

Prolific fashion designers such as Norma Kamali began glamourising the garment, producing hoodies in a variety of colours with intricate embroidery and cutouts.

However, the most pivotal moment of the so called ‘hoodie culture’ of the 70s was in 1976 with the release of the blockbuster rags-to-riches film ‘Rocky,’ starring Sylvester Stallone. The main protagonist Rocky, for whom after the movie is named, dons a grey hoodie during the film’s most iconic moments; cementing and establishing the hoodie’s connection to the working class.

Rocky 1976 Grey Hoodie.
Stills from the 1976 movie ‘Rocky.’

1990s: Mainstream Popularity

The term ‘hoodie’ was first coined during the 1990s.

Hoodies also somehow managed to infiltrate the popular street skateboarding culture in the late 90s to early 2000s. At this point of time, street skating was banned due to safety concerns and damage to public property. Therefore, hoodies were used as a way to conceal a skater’s identity in the case of being caught by the authorities. Hoodies decorated with different graphic designs and visual effects soon became a trend.

It was also around this time that hoodies began being used as an identifying factor for local gangs. You could tell if a person belonged to a specific gang by the colour, design, and message on their hoodie.

Luxury fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Giorgio Armani began to notice the intense, growing popularity of hoodies and decided to add embellished versions of them to their runway collections.

Hoodies from the 1990s.
Hoodie designs from the 1990s from Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren respectively.

2000s – Present: The Hoodie of Wall Street

In 2012, during Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO), Mark Zuckerberg famously wore a black hoodie to meet with Wall Street investors instead of the more generally accepted suit and tie.

Why Is Everyone Focused on Zuckerberg's Hoodie? - The New York Times

While some viewed the image of a 27 year old, hoodie-wearing CEO as immature, others argued that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in a hoodie, and should continue to execute its financial deals and increase its profitability in a hoodie.

In fact, some analysts even said that his hoodies were absolutely vital in maintaining Facebook’s brand image. If Mark Zuckerberg suddenly switched out his comfortable hoodie for a stuffy suit and tie, it would signal that Facebook was moving away from its at the time new formula- youth, creativity and individuality.

The incident was widely known as ‘Hoodiegate.’ To hood or not to hood?

Yahoo CEO: No hoodie; AOL CEO: No hoodie; Facebook CEO: hoodie. Coincidence?

Aaron Levie- CEO of cloud computing company ‘Box’

However, some pointed out a double standard in the perception of hoodies.

The same year Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old high school student, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a member of the local neighbourhood watch community.

George Zimmerman (a white man) viewed Trayvon Martin (a black teen walking home wearing a hoodie) as a violent threat to the neighbourhood, and consequently decided to shoot at him.

In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death, a rally known as ‘The Million Hoodie March’ took place on March 21, 2012; in which people wore hoodies and marched through the streets of New York City to protest the racial profiling of non-white youths wearing hoodies.

During George Zimmerman’s trial, his defence team used what was known as ‘the hoodie defence,’ which attempted to justify his actions by saying that it was absolutely reasonable to view a person in a hoodie as ‘suspicious.’

When black boys wear hoodies, they are identified with criminal activity — whereas the Mark Zuckerbergs, they look comfortable. And so what does that communicate about the politics of race and class in America?

Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, an organizer of ‘The Million Hoodie March’
The Million Hoodie March
The Million Hoodie March

Psychology- is all really good in the hood?

It turns out there is a reason why hoodies make us feel better.

Although wearing a hoodie isn’t a prima facie sign of depression, some have put forward the theory that wearing hoodies can actually be used as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult emotions such as loneliness, loss and anxiety.

Think about it- I don’t think it’s completely out of the question to believe that the literal warmth from a hoodie could somehow mimic emotional warmth. Sort of like how it has been proved that people with depression subconsciously prefer warmer showers because it mimics the experience of being hugged.

Basically you’re depressed and lonely!

It could also be theorised that hoodies can somehow act as social armour- it can hide and distort one’s body shape (popularised in mainstream media by Billie Eilish) to prevent unwanted attention and sexualization.

Wearing a hoodie, for me at least, is sort of like going out in “incognito mode,” but in real life.

Thank you for reading! Comment below and let me know your thoughts on hoodies. Love them? Hate them? Wear them? Need them?

Make sure to share this post with any hoodie-loving friends or family!

You can check out my last few posts here:

Until Next Time.


3 thoughts on “Hoodies- The Real Life Invisibility Cloak?

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    Liked by 2 people

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