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Giovanni's Ultimate Guide to Hoodies

Updated: Dec 16, 2022



In the fickle world of fashion, things regularly come full circle – Aloha shirts, socks and sandals and tie-dye being just some of the most current case studies. And the hoodie – once seen as the garb of teenagers with nothing much to do – has shaken off its scruffy image and has been elevated to new heights by brands from Balenciaga to Brunello Cucinelli, morphing into something considerably more versatile and refined.

There are some that say the hoodie’s origins can be traced back to the days of yore, but we’d be reluctant to draw similarities between a Medieval monk’s robe and today’s iteration. Rationally speaking, the blueprint of the modern hoodie was first mapped out in the 1930s, when US brand Champion took the increasingly popular men’s sweatshirt – worn by jocks and nerds alike – and added a hood, a zip-up fastening and marsupial-like pouch for cold-storage workers in Manhattan warehouses to wear on shift. Football players soon adopted oversized hoodies to keep them snug while they waited on the sidelines in the driving rain. It wasn’t long before preppy American students began sporting hoodies on campus, emblazoned with the name of the institution of their allegiance – a custom which continues to this day.


But perhaps it’s the hoodie’s rebellious image that’s the most enduring, one which emerged during the youthquake of the 1970s when burgeoning style tribes and rap and R&B artists – the true originators of street style – adopted the hoodie in defiance of the tweed-and-starch get-up of their institutionalised forefathers. Utilitarian and dissident roots aside, the hoodie is a firm fixture of the modern leisurewear arsenal and it has virtues that extend well beyond Sunday sofa uniform, as you’ll find out if you read on.

Design with Ease


The skater hoodie




If there’s one place that deserves a grand accolade for the rise of leisurewear – the hoodie included – it’s California. After all, it was the 1980s skaters of the Golden State who really brought the hoodie to the fore. After finding themselves banned from skateparks amid a state crackdown, these devil-may-care kids refused to relinquish the hoodies that were part of their cultural identity and wore them beyond the confines of the halfpipe. In turn, this nonconformism captured the imagination of high-end designers, including Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, who brought the hoodie to the attention of the wider style-conscious public. In fact, the genre has been so influential, it’s meant that brands such as Supreme and Stüssy – the progenitors of skater style – have achieved cult following among men whether they’re au fait with a flat rail or not (and as we’re well aware, produced snake-like queues down city streets worldwide on drop days). Of course, you might not want to go the whole hog for unease of looking like you’re all the gear and no idea, but a classic skate-inspired black logo hoodie or tie-dye number worn with a pair of chinos or selvedge denim and canvas slip-ons is an easy, throw-on-and go ensemble even if you’re not bound for the skatepark.


The urbane hoodie



Be original, show off your style, and tell your story.”

Paris has been the nucleus of fashion for as long as there were trends to be set, so it’s little wonder that its citizens are often hyped as the best dressed beings on the planet. And if you’ve a keen eye for style, you’ll probably have noticed that Parisians have a distinctive way of interpreting urban attire, fusing formal and casual elements with an effortless sartorial fluency that’s best described as Gallic je ne sais quoi. Maison Kitsuné, based in the city’s second arrondissement, is a brand that typifies this approach to dressing, as its CEO Mr Gildas Loaëc explains. “There are so many ways to wear a hoodie: simply as it is, over a crew-neck T-shirt with chinos, denim or matching jogging trousers and a pair of canvas sneakers; as an extra layer under a worker jacket, a bomber or a parka on cooler days, or with a suit to add a more laid-back, streetwear vibe to your tailoring.” While you might not initially think a suit and a hoodie as the most harmonious of matches, the inherently casual nature of a hoodie makes it easy to smarten up for certain settings – say, the office – and by teaming it with a well-cut jacket (the softly structured kind, mind, not the strong-shouldered sort) you’ll have a look that’s just as appropriate for work or play, à la Parisienne.


The technical hoodie




Given that its pedigree stems from sportswear, it makes sense that the hoodie is built for active pursuits. Of course, the advantage we have in now since its loopback-cotton predecessor first came on the scene in the 1930s, is a host of innovative technical fabrics which can be used to your advantage. Brands including Arc’teryx, Moncler Genius and Patagonia go to great lengths to engineer their fabrics so they perform just so. Many of these sportif iterations are made with materials and techniques to ensure they breathe like a second skin, keep your body temperature on an even keel, are super light and yet still provide the sort of waterproofness you’d associate with a Macintosh – but without the associated bulk, of course. If you’re the wellness-orientated type, these technical hoodies are just what you need to stay cool and collected so you can focus on topping your personal best. Or if crisp, technical fibres aren’t your thing, a plush, fleecy hoodie is a great out-of-doors alternative. Throw it on with a gilet, ripstop shorts and your favourite New Balance sneakers and you’ll have nailed all-day athleisure dressing in one fell swoop.


The sophisticated hoodie



You might think that a pure cashmere or silk-blend hoodie sounds just a bit, well, indulgent, but we can bet you’ll be an instant convert as soon as you shrug one on over your shoulders. “The hoodie’s continued success is down to the fact that comfort is becoming the number one consideration when choosing clothing today. Flipping the hood up and sinking your hands into those deep front pockets into soft, luxurious material just feels great,” says Ms Olivia Francis, founder of British loungewear brand, Hamilton and Hare. Labels such as Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, Ermenegildo Zegna and Gucci excel at giving this practical, working man’s garment a plush new guise and prove that it’s not just streetwear titans that know how to craft a decent hoodie. Built from the finest cloud-soft threads known to man, with graphic prints and artisanal details in spades, they’re the sort of pieces you’d be happy to be buried in.

Of course, giving this most casual of items a high-brow spin instantly makes it feel more polished, making it suited to a wide spectrum of occasions. Mr Mark Zuckerberg knows this – the social-media king is famed for wearing hoodies to business meetings (we suspect the finest cashmere ones, though, naturally). Who said a suit denotes status when it comes to power moves in business these days? For this level of luxury, we’d suggest combining yours with an oversized wool overcoat – this somewhat surprising combo opened the eyes of aficionados when clotheshorse Mr Kanye West first rocked the look a few years back, prompting numerous other style mavens to follow suit. Don’t be shy to mix things up further, either. Add some pebbled-grain leather derbies, a jaunty beanie and a touch of man-bling and you’ll have sartorial juxtaposition down to a tee.

Of course, giving this most casual of items a high-brow spin instantly makes it feel more polished, making it suited to a wide spectrum of occasions. Mr Mark Zuckerberg knows this – the social-media king is famed for wearing hoodies to business meetings (we suspect the finest cashmere ones, though, naturally). Who said a suit denotes status when it comes to power moves in business these days? For this level of luxury, we’d suggest combining yours with an oversized wool overcoat – this somewhat surprising combo opened the eyes of aficionados when clotheshorse Mr Kanye West first rocked the look a few years back, prompting numerous other style mavens to follow suit. Don’t be shy to mix things up further, either. Add some pebbled-grain leather derbies, a jaunty beanie and a touch of man-bling and you’ll have sartorial juxtaposition down to a tee.



The all-purpose hoodie



As we’ve seen, the origin of the hoodie is largely utilitarian, with grey and black hoodies originally the standard with their grime-disguising, wash-and-wear functionality. Of course, as men, we’re still inclined today to lean towards the safer shades of black, white and grey, and what’s wrong with that? A versatile palette is one of the hallmarks of considered dressing and a quality, staple hoodie in an adaptable shade will provide a solid foundation to build on, as Ms Francis explains: “I don’t think there are any rules with a hoodie anymore, if it’s well-made in a good fabric, considered in terms of design detailing and colour, it can be worn anywhere, whether you’re out to dinner or on the sofa”. It’s these pair-with-anything styles that are key to a well-curated leisurewear cache – they’ll happily see you through everything from idle Sundays to long-haul exploits, whether you wear yours with a pair of jersey shorts, an indigo denim jacket or a tailored travel blazer.


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