It feels like just yesterday that 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was confronted and killed by George Zimmerman. Martin wore a hoodie that night, an article of clothing worn by many teenagers around the world, but was described as being “suspicious” while wearing it. Outrage and protest shortly followed with people wearing hoodies to show their support for the arrest of Zimmerman. People changed their social networking profile pictures to themselves wearing hoodies to show unity within the protest as well as “million hoodie marches” in cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. A hoodie even made its way to the floor of Congress, an act that caused Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) to be escorted from the House floor for violating dresscode. The hoodie has become a center piece of the story and has been perceived as something negative and controversial, however, the hoodie has humble beginnings before it became a part of national headlines.
The history of the early hoodie started centuries ago and variations were worn by those in high positions and the religious. Hoodies as we know them today first appeared in the United States during the early 20th century. Sportswear clothing company Champion invented the hoodie in the 1930s and was meant for labor workers who did their work in cold conditions. Athletes began wearing hoodies as Champion started to market to schools and started providing clothing. It wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s when the hoodie started to become popular and mainstream. With films like Rocky, where the main character Rocky Balboa wore hoodies, and the emergence of hip hop and the punk era, hoodies were cool and now worn by the masses.
The hoodie was no longer seen as just something you wore over a t-shirt, but for some it was a sinister piece of clothing worn by criminals. On screen in commercials, television shows, and films, it was not uncommon if the “crook” wore a hoodie to disclose their identity for a fast getaway. Like many pieces of clothing or accessories, the hoodie had its assumed unfavorable connotations like jeans, bandanas, and miniskirts all had at one time.
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Since then, the hoodie has been a staple piece of clothing no matter the background of a person. Billionaire Mark Zuckerburg is frequently spotted wearing them, high end retailers such as Versace and Louis Vuitton sell (very expensive) hoodies, and even beloved America’s heartthrob Justin Bieber wears them often, plus sells them on his official website. Hoodies are a mainstay in contemporary American culture and will continue to be. Despite the controversy and reckless comments suggesting hoodies are something bad, they will and should continue to be exactly what they are, a piece of cool, comfy clothing.
words by: Valerye Griffin – (@valmarie)