Hoodies are possibly the single most popular garment out there. We all have one, whether it's a printed hoodie from university, personalised hoodies from holidays away or sports gear for jogging or training. Every self respecting fashion house has their own take on the classic. You can buy hoodies sewn into suit jackets or design your own hoodie through one of a growing choice of websites and high street stores. But not many people know that the trend actually traces back to the medieval monasteries of Christian Europe.
Back in the Middle Ages, many people wore what would become today's hoodie. Monks hoods known as 'cowls' attached to their robes, or tunics. They were the perfect choice of clothing for men who wanted to have a single, simple wardrobe that they could wear through the cold winters as well as both feeling comfortable and looking plain in. The first hoodies were so popular that workers in the fields and workshops soon took up the trend, liking the warmth and flexibility of the garments.
If it was Medieval Europe where the hoodie's predecessor first appeared, it was another world entirely where they came back into fashion. In freezing, dirty 1930s upstate New York, the first modern-style hoodie was produced and the fashion caught on all over again. People still did not call them 'hoodies', that name only caught on in the 1990s. By then, they were a fashion staple of the United States, much of Europe and, more and more, pretty much everywhere else to some extent.
These days, in fact, hoodies have reached almost cult status in the fashion world. Big brands, institutions and celebrities often leave their mark on personalised hoodies according to their own styles. The world famous Victoria & Albert Museum in central London recently bought one of the rapper P Diddy's embroidered hoodies for a cultural exhibit, showing just how deep into the DNA of modern western culture the one-piece garment has made it. This is a museum that defines tradition, formality and imperial London, if a hoodie can end up there, it can end up anywhere.
Following the trend, personalised hoodies are becoming a popular choice for the style-conscious who prefer to design their own streetwear rather than buy into one of the big brands. Hoodies printing is big business and there are some printers out there that will let you design your own hoodie according to any design you can think up and have it transferred onto a quality fabric. Team hoodies are commissioned for sports teams, companies distribute branded tops to their employees on away days and everything else from embroidered hoodies to silk hoodies are springing up. There is no occasion a hoodie can't be found for.
While the garment first worn by Medieval monks still has to prove its staying power in the world of fashion, so far it seems like it isn't going anywhere; while anybody can design their own version of the classic and every fashion house treats the garment with reverence, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere just yet.