Where the basic hoodie means to defend against the elements, the protest hoodie seeks to offend the right people. In the paranoid view of stodgy shopkeepers, the hoodie is to be feared for extinguishing individuality; in its politicized life, it mutes identity to signal alliance, not unlike a resistance group’s uniform.
All that potential subtext is attached to a generally evocative item of clothing. The white working-class hoodie still glows with the Rocky Balboa ideal of grit and tenacity. The yoga-class hoodie is sold on a promise of snuggly virtue that may explain why in Saskatchewan they call the thing a ‘‘bunny hug.’’ The tech-sector hoodie made default by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg carries on the garment’s proud juvenile tradition of informality and defiance. Once perceived as an affront to professionalism, it has since settled in as a convention.
But the ascent of casual wear does not quite disguise the unchanging strictness of social codes, and the hood continues to frame matters of class and race in ways that tend to satisfy the interest of power.
Troy Patterson, “On Clothing”, The New York Times Magazine (6 March 2016), 19.