There has been intense media speculation in the UK recently as to the rise of crime associated with youths wearing hooded tops. It has even spawned a new noun – as in “a gang of hoodies beat up a man yesterday". What is it that has created this image of illegality in such a short time?
The obvious reason is that the hoodie part of the top can obscure the face of the wearer, so some wearers have committed criminal acts such as shoplifting using the hood to conceal their identity from CCTV cameras in shopping centres
In May 2005, the largest shopping centre in the UK, Bluewater in Kent, launched a Code of Conduct which bans its shoppers from sporting hoodies and baseball caps. Hoodies and baseball caps are still on sale there, however. Prime Minister Tony Blair has openly supported this stance and vowed to clamp down on the anti-social behaviour hoody wearers are often associated with.
What is often ignored is the fact that the hoodie was developed for a very different reason – keeping warm! Surfers and skateboarders have known this for some time and the original functionality of the clothing has evolved into a fashion item.
What a lot of the media gloss over is that many hoodies are customized or at least branded with logos, names etc which tend to negate the anonymity anyway. At least half of the hoodies sold have been customized in some way, even if it’s just a common brand name – such as Next in the UK. The more up market brands can cost over £100 each and (unless they’re themselves stolen!) are less likely to be worn by your average shoplifter.
So the next time you see a “suspicious" youth in the street, have a closer look – he may be a surf champion wearing clothes costing more than your own!
Logan Hunter works for Localhoods , a leading supplier of hoodies in the UK.