I didn’t ever think my hoodie would become a modern day fashion piece or a source of social unrest and discord. Well it appears that it has become both! Would you have given any thought to the idea that this piece of clothing attire would become a must-have item.
I am an old school guy so my hoodie wearing was simply a way to keep warm on cold days. While I grew up in the South, we did experience seasonal changes; therefore, donning it was just natural. I don’t really know the origins of the hoodie, but I do know that it was comfortable and kept Jack Frost at a distance. I have also heard it referred to as a fleece jacket and hooded jacket.
During the 1960s, there weren’t any social attachments to wearing them. You weren’t labeled as a bad person or someone to be watched. As I recalled, we didn’t look menacing and have people afraid of us when we walked in the neighborhood. The hoodies that we wore were plain and nondescript.
Suffice it to say, the hoodie, like bell bottoms and Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, had its day. It came on the scene in an uneventful way and left the scene without any sendoff. Over the years, I have purchased other hoodies and enjoy wearing them. The hoodie as a wardrobe item has not changed but the times have.
Who or what made the hoodie so popular? There are some different answers to this question. I would opine that all the answers have some validity and can be the source of a good debate. Some would suggest that music and the hip hop culture had a hand in the resurgence of the hooded jacket. Now there is some truth to that statement. I think an equally strong influence was the expansion of television. Back in the day there were only a few television stations, and they all went off at midnight.
Other folks would say that Russell Simmons, a pioneer of the hip hop movement, had something to do with the hoodie coming back on the scene. If you agree that Simmons helped to create this culture, then we should say that he created more than just music. It was also the clothing line, the hair styles and the cutting edge sassiness.
There were probably those who thought this would be short lived, but when you turn on the television or listen to the radio you see it and you hear it. When you go in your communities, you see it. When you enter school buildings or go onto a college campus, you see it.
Some would argue that the language has also been affected. There is a lexicon out here among the young that is different from when I was coming of age. For example, “hello” has been replaced by “what’s up.” “See you later” has been replaced by “I’m out.” Quite honestly, I have used both terms, and I feel comfortable using them. What I admire about young people today is their ability to transform themselves both in language and in apparel.
Somewhere along the way the hoodie became a stylish item to wear. The hoodie or fleece is now being worn throughout the year regardless of the season. The hoodie has resurfaced mightily and is here to stay. For some time now there has been this debate about sagging pants. Now in some circles there is growing concern over wearing a hoodie.
Unfortunately and tragically the death of young Trayvon Martin has added fuel to this firestorm. There have been protests with people wearing hoodies. A member of the House of Representatives wore a hoodie on the House floor. Students at schools and colleges have joined in by wearing hoodies to class and to student activities in increasing numbers.
I never would have thought that the hoodie would become such a polarizing symbol. Does what we wear determine who we are? You be the judge and answer that question. When I wore my Afro was I considered cool or was I perceived as a militant? When I wore my blue jean outfit was I considered a trendsetter or was I “ready to march”?
These are all questions that will pop up again albeit with another set of clothing apparel. We can’t let the fashions of today create distrust and apprehension because of who wears them. Just remember your Afro and your platform shoes!