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Why HUES BOA Loves Hoodies: The Evolution of an American Icon: History of the Hoodie

Early Hoods

Believe it or not, the hoodie dates back thousands of years. Of course, it looked pretty different in its earliest version. In medieval Europe, for example, hoods on clothing were a practical necessity for protection from the weather while people worked outdoors in the cold. Capes with hoods were worn by people from all social classes, often for travel. Depending on your status, they might have been made of elegant fabric if you were wealthy or sackcloth if you were poor.

The Modern Hoodie: Worn in Factories

These were just the beginnings of wearing a garment with an attached hood, long before the current sweatshirt with the hood came to be. In the 1930s, an American manufacturer called The Knickerbocker Knitting Company decided to sew hoods on sweatshirts for factory workers or those outdoors facing harsh conditions. And that’s where it started to take off.

Soon, these shirts with hoods caught on at the University of Michigan, which asked Knickerbocker to produce something similar for its football team. Hoodies were then adopted by athletes on the sidelines, who tried to keep warm when they weren’t out on the football field.

Since outdoor workers and athletes primarily wore hoodies, they became associated with sports and manual labor. In the 1960s, a division of Knickerbocker called Champion began to print the names of colleges on hoodies, making their team members easily recognizable. The hoodie then took on a collegiate vibe.

Hoodies Hit the Streets

Fast forward to the 1970s, and the hoodie became synonymous with youth trying to hide from being caught while out and about doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing. Graffiti artists wore hoodies while spray painting the subway in New York, and street criminals wore them to stay hidden.

But hoodies weren’t just the earmark of those skirting the law in those early days. They also gave visual protection to more marginalized people who sought not to be singled out based on their appearance.

So, the hoodie had developed a reputation for rebellion in a way, even though, at times, that meant rebellion against a system of authority that wasn’t fair.

Obviously, this is part of the inspiration for the HUES BOA hoodie.

Hero in a Hoodie

That all started to change in 1976 with the movie Rocky when Sylvester Stallone made the gray hoodie famous. Rocky wore the gray hoodie as he trained to become a champion boxer. Finally, a hero, not a criminal, was wearing a hoodie in the public eye.

In the 1980s, the hoodie gained more legitimacy and a bigger audience when Ralph Lauren included them in its sportswear collections. At the same time, hoodies became a symbol of other subculture groups. Skateboarders started to wear them to stay under the radar as they looked for abandoned places to skate since cities had closed many skate parks.

Hoodies played a part in Hip Hop culture, too. Run-DMC wore black hoodies in the 1980s, and rapper LL Cool J wore a hoodie in the 1990s. Instead of being a uniform of rebellious youths or sidelined graffiti artists, the hoodie had now taken on a more mainstream, still cool, urban aura.

Hoodie Sweatshirt: A Symbol of Injustice

Though people of all stripes have been wearing hoodies for decades, this piece of fashion still represented racial tensions. Minority youths wore them to avoid being profiled or targeted by police. In a way, the hoodie became a symbol against discrimination.

The hoodie has held on to more profound meaning in US social life. The 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, who was killed while wearing a hoodie, and the protests that followed put the spotlight on the hoodie as a different kind of symbol: one of racial injustice and oppression. It reflected the injustice of a young, innocent man gunned down for what he was wearing- a hoodie.

Tens of thousands across the US responded in hoodie protests to express solidarity against the outright tragedy of discrimination.

An Enduring Classic — Just Like HUES BOA will be!

Despite being charged with a weighty cultural past, the hoodie has endured as a fashion staple today. It transformed from functional and practical to creative, symbolic, and political.


So, the hoodie has a long, storied past, but the cool thing is the hoodie can keep being reinvented. HUES BOA has taken a hoodie and put our mark on it: that’s our take on this iconic piece of clothing. And individuals can wear a hoodie to express whatever they want to convey with their personal fashion choices.


Is it functional and warm? Is it a statement? Is it an item of safety, protecting your identity? Is it the most comfortable training wear you can find as you run outdoors in the cold? Is it your style statement emblazoned with a cool brand?

You decide.

One thing is for sure: the hoodie will remain a cool, iconic American garment for years to come.


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