It's hard to hear the words 'political fashion' without picturing a smug male model swaggering down a catwalk with "FUCK WAR!" felt-tipped across his cardigan, but bear with me while I make the case that the humble hoody is possibly the most politicised clothing item of our times.
I got my first one in 2004, at the age of 13. It was a basic, pitch-black Nike design, identical to the pullovers donned by every other kid at my school – although the decision was only partly based on trend. Truth is, I'd gotten chubby and just wanted to hide my newfound flubber away.
It was the wrong time to invest. Not long after I pulled on a hoodie for the first time, it became the focal point of a hysterical national crisis.
For middle England, 2004 was a year of unremitting paranoia, fear and snobbery. In the face of rising 'anti-social behavior' stats, the Labour government extended the remit of the much-criticised ASBO ban. "Chav", a word used to vilify working class youths decked out in sportswear, quickly became common parlance in the nation's newspapers and TV shows.
In truth, I'd gotten chubby
But worst of all, it was the year that people were contemptibly banned from wearing hoodies in Bluewater Shopping Centre – the prime location of my bored, wandering teenage weekends.
Fast-forward a bit and, surprisingly, it was David Cameron who in 2006 first attempted to pour some empathetic light on the issue with his much-ridiculed call for people to "hug a hoodie". In the proceeding five years, England embraced the fashion item like never before – albeit in the form of novelty school leaver souvenirs and New Rave colour-clash monstrosities.
But it's only over the past half-decade, alongside the staggering rise of streetwear, that the hoodie has become approved by the cool kids and the fashion industry at-large – and only very recently that high-end designers have dabbled in them at all.
The appropriation of working class style by high fashion is hardly a new or surprising trajectory, but the irony remains that the people who inspired this season's most celebrated catwalk looks have no hope of actually affording the result.
But even still, I'd rather see working class culture celebrated and embraced than vilified and scorned.
That being said, hoodies make me look like I'm really, really into hockey, so you won't catch me in one. No way.
Ranging from banned-at-Bluewater ASBO badge of honour, to skater staple, to the uniform de rigeur of the private school and University leaver, the hoodie has, over the years, been taken on by a wide variety of social groups: none of them stylish.
But, recently, something's changed. The hoodie is having a moment. A stylish moment. It really is!
And I hate it
The people that have appropriated the hoodie as the ultimate layering piece for 2017 are the same who, this time last year, would have rolled their moisturised eyes and laughed their minty laughs if it was suggested the least stylish form of sweatshirt ever made was set to become a trend.
But look at them now.
Typically worn underneath an oversized overcoat, denim jacket or bomber by the smug street style set, the nu wave of hoodie wearer sees it as a clever way of blending sportswear and high fashion… but really it just looks stupid.
Just buy a sweatshirt
You see, the thing with hoodies is that we outgrew them long ago. They're your go-to when you're 12 with the wind in your sails and the world at your feet. You own one hoodie with some sort of graphic on it and that's all you need to keep you warm and just about cool enough to not get beaten up when hang out near the stoners at the local skate park.
But then you grow up, grow out and your wardrobe changes. One day you go to pick out ol' reliable and it just doesn't look or feel the same. The hoodie has lost its luster. You're better than that now, or at least over it.
So that's why this recent ploy to bring the hoodie back into the fashion sphere irks me. It doesn't matter if it's the latest Vetements or Off White in cotton sourced from the highest Afghan plateaus, we're not 12 anymore (sorry if you are 12. Enjoy it!); our hoodie days are over … gone.
You are a grown-up now, with a job now and bills to pay. Just buy a sweatshirt. Unlikely the hoody, they're not going out of style any time soon.
You Might Also Like