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THE HOODIE: FASHION TREND OR NEW SYMBOL FOR CIVIL INJUSTICE?

[pinup-pro type="pinit" pin_url="CURRENT" pin_image_url="" pin_counter="horizontal" pin_desc=""]Many people were happy that the athletic trend was here for spring 2012. People who love to wear their track suits, yoga pants, sweats and hoodies could do so and be on-trend for spring. However, it seems that one of fashion’s mainstay sporty comforts has new meaning. The hoodie played a significant part in the death of Trayvon Martin. As a result, it is now a symbol of social injustice.

The Hoodie as a Fashion Trend

When garments become symbolic for a culture or subculture as a part of their uniform it also becomes a fashion trend for that culture. Sometimes these cultural trends hit the mainstream. For spring 2012 the hoodie was set become a mainstream trend. With the athletic or sporty chic trend popular for the season, the all too comfortable hoodie was poised to reign as the top trend. Now with global attention being given to the hoodie because of the Trayvon Martin murder, the hoodie went from being trendy to becoming historic.

The Function of the Hoodie

The hoodie is an athletic garment meant for layering and wearing on chilly but not necessarily cold days. Joggers, runners and those who go for their daily morning walks often wear the hoodie to keep warm and offer some protection from wind. It is light- to medium-weight and allows the upper body to move freely while it protects it from the elements. This is the primary function of the hoodie.

A secondary function of the hoodie is that of concealment. This athletic garment is often seen in crime movies, television shows and horror films like “The Maze” which features a psycho killer wearing a hooded sweatshirt concealing his identity. Many celebrities use the hoodie to help hide their identity in public. A-list stars are often spotted by the paparazzi doing ordinary day-to-day stuff wearing a hoodie to blend in and help conceal them so they won’t be bothered.

The Symbolism of the Hoodie

Perhaps no other musical genres have had such an impact on fashion as rap and hip-hop. The urban stylings of these musical genres have played a role in fashion for around three decades. While the hoodie’s function is as an athletic garment, these musical genres have helped it to become synonymous with urban street style. More specifically, it is considered a part of the uniform of the urban street gangster or thug. Consequently, it has also become the uniform of criminal activity.

Gender’s Role for the Hoodie

A large part of the hoodie’s criminal connotations stem from its being worn by males who commit crimes. Primarily it is associated with minority males and poor males. Most times when surveillance camera footage shows a robbery taking place the suspect is a male wearing a hoodie. The infamous police sketch of the Unabomber is a male wearing a hoodie. I know a lot of crimes that I read about in the Mid-Atlantic often involve a male wearing a hoodie as part of the description.

A Symbol of Social Injustice

One can’t deny the fact that Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie the night he was murdered by George Zimmerman plays a significant role. Zimmerman profiled Martin based partly on him being a young black male wearing a hoodie. The assumption implied as per the 911 recordings is that this meant Martin was a street thug looking to cause trouble. Minorities realized that the racial profiling of Martin included his apparel. This sparked protests such as the Million Hoodie Marches in cities across the country and pictures all over the Internet of people wearing hoodies protesting the lack of justice for the slain 17-year old. These events have made the hoodie a modern day symbol of social injustice. As a result, securing the garment’s place in fashion history and the history of the United States.

Will the hoodie ever see the light of day again as a mainstream fashion trend? Or will it forever by seen as a reminder of social injustice against young male minorities. My bet, it may take a while for the hoodie to have a serious turn as a major fashion trend. As for 2012, the hoodie will be seen more as a social and political statement rather than a fashion statement.

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