Kevin Braddock (a contributing editor to GQ Magazine) provided a thoughtful sartorial angle on the looting and violence in London over the past few days in yesterday’s Guardian. His piece touches upon the multiple meanings of the hoodie’s role in creating masks and social identity amongst sub cultures, linking this to the hoodie’s demonisation in the public eye, and even in some cases its role in the institutionalised criminialisation of people.
Its not flip to talk about the sartorial choices of young people in relation to riots. What Braddock’s piece points to more broadly, are the ways in which clothing can act as criminal mask or urban shield for disenfranchised youth. The hoodie and its multiple meanings as discussed by Braddock, also points to the enormous role that particular kinds of clothing can play in everyday prejudice, helping to fuel divisions both intentional or more complexly rooted in the need to fit in- even if that means fitting into a stereotype. One thing is for sure, after this weeks shocking images which flooded the media the hoodie will continue to serve as a short hand for urban disenfranchisment and public fear for a while to come.
“Feared, derided, misunderstood and still resolutely un-hugged, the utilitarian, hugely popular sportswear garment, the hoodie, has staged a comeback against a backdrop of pyromania and rioting. Worn by millions every day: a generation’s default wardrobe choice was transformed into an instant criminal cloak for London’s looting youth. It may be more newsworthy now, but the hoodie and the folk devil it represents have been with us for a long time”.