A Brief History of the Hoodie

Published: 04th March 2009
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The hoodie is a variant of the popular sweatshirt, which of course come in various shapes and sizes, from pullovers and jumpers to cardigans and hoodies. It is thought the sweatshirt, so named because it was designed to draw the sweat from the body, was originally the preserve of the British fisherman, who wore it because it kept them warm and relatively dry whilst working on their boats. This is where the famous Guernsey, Aran and Fair Isle sweatshirt patterns originated, all are islands of the British coast that fishermen commonly lived or worked nearby.

The sweatshirt and its offshoots gained mainstream popularity thanks to several popular 19th Century wartime figures, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Brudnell (who led the infamous charge of the Light Brigade) and Lord Raglan, Fitzroy Somerset (another officer of the Crimean War). The cardigan and raglan sleeve were popularised by these men respectively, the wider raglan sleeves actually being designed specifically for the one-armed Somerset who had lost his right arm in battle.

However the concept of the hoodie stretches back even further in time. While hoodies might now be more associated with an ASBO their spiritual predecessor is thought to have been worn by Catholic monks in the Middle Ages. Their formal outfits consisted of a standard baggy tunic and a cowl, or long hood, to cover their heads. The modern version of the hoodie was designed much later in the 1930's by Champion Sportswear for those labouring in the cold warehouses of America. Famous designers such as Claire McCardell helped ensure its entry into the mainstream fashion world by designing whole ranges around the concept of the hooded sweatshirt. The clothing only really took off forty years later though with the rising status of hip-hop culture and its ubiquitous presence in the immensely influential Rocky films of the 1970's.

By the 1990's the hoodie had gained a strong foothold both in trendy sub-culture such as among the surfers and skaters of California and the mainstream fashion world, with brands such as Armani and Ralph Lauren using it as the basis for many of their collections. Whilst the hoodie is now viewed as more of a relaxed garment,
personalised hoodies
are becoming increasingly popular as a form of either embroidered or printed promotional apparel.

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