How the Hooded Sweatshirt Became the Hoodie

What do you call a sweatshirt with a hood on it? If you are older than about forty or so, your preferred term is probably ‘hooded sweatshirt’. If you are younger, you might prefer ‘hoodie’. It is the same garment no matter what you call it. Still, have you ever wondered why the term changed? Have you ever wondered how the hooded sweatshirt became the hoodie?

Both fashion and language evolve with time. They are influenced by everything from culture to necessity. In the case of the hooded sweatshirt, there seems to be a single defining moment that forced the change of terms. You might be surprised to learn what that moment was.

Origins of the Hoodie

With the understanding that a hoodie is just a hooded sweatshirt, its origins date back to late 1920s sports and workwear. What eventually became the modern sweatshirt was prized by athletes who appreciated its comfort and perspiration absorbing capabilities. Workers who spent the majority of their time outdoors wore sweatshirts to stay warm.

It is believed that Champion was the first company to come out with a hooded sweatshirt. They added the hood in the 1930s. Champion went on to become a military supplier for both the U.S. and U.K., supplying a range of training gear that included sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts. By the 1940s, full sweatsuits had gained acceptance outside of military circles.

Sweatshirts and College Sports

The next innovation in sweatshirts came in the 1960s, when colleges began printing their names and logos on them. Branded sweatsuits were issued to college athletes while students were encouraged to buy the sweatshirts. Both hooded and non-hooded sweatshirts really took off as streetwear at this time.

Before moving on, the importance of the college influence cannot be understated. Today you can buy hoodies with all sorts of graphics, messages, and brand images. At Plurawl, you can buy hoodies designed specifically for the LatinX community. And of course, you can still buy hoodies representing your favorite sports team. It all goes back to the 1960s decision to use sweatshirts as a collegiate branding tool.

Sweatshirts and Urban Fashion

Beginning in the 1970s, hooded sweatshirts came into their own as urban fashion. The hoodie was the outer garment of choice for urban artists from New York to London. It became synonymous with America’s independent spirit thanks to the success of the 1976 film Rocky.

At some point between the late 70s and the end of the 90s, hooded sweatshirts inexplicably found themselves linked to urban crime. Then came the turning point in the mid 2000’s.

According to the SANVT website, a UK shopping center banned wearing hooded sweatshirts on site due to their negative connotation. The shopping center actually used the term ‘hoodie’. From that point on, the older term would be destined to fade away. That leads us to 2021 and our use of the newer term.

Language Continues to Evolve

No matter how you feel about the history of the hooded sweatshirt and how it came to be known as the hoodie, there is no denying the fact that language continues to evolve. Transitioning from hooded sweatshirt to hoodie is but one example. Language evolves because society and culture evolve.

And now you know how the hooded sweatshirt became the hoodie. At the end of the day, what you call the garment doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that you can buy one if you want one. And thankfully, that’s not a problem. Hoodies are as common today as T-shirts and jeans. That is a good thing no matter what term you use.

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