The Wall Street Journal’s ode to the hoodie… not for what you think
We decided to switch to a new schwag supplier at work, so we had to reorder all our logo gear. The clothes are now made by a different brand, but because they’re custom ordered the difference is negligible. Or so I thought. The new mayor hoodies arrived at our New York office today—heather grey instead of charcoal grey like the old ones. This was… a really big deal. As soon as they hit the shelves (of the supply closet) everyone had to have a look for themselves and decide where they stood on the new hue. It was as though fabric gradient could impact our valuation.
Meanwhile, an actual nationwide controversy over hoodies is raging after a Fox News anchor suggested that the sweatshirt’s stigma caused the shooting of an unarmed minor that looked ‘suspicious’ to an overzealous neighborhood watchman. The Daily Show must not have picked this up yet because none of my startup colleagues seemed to know about it. But I’d just seen it covered (what can I say? 24-hour cable news networks help me fall asleep in my hotel) so it was fresh on my mind. How could the same item of clothing mean something entirely different?
Last year there was a WSJ article about perks at Silicon Valley tech companies that took a lengthy and affectionate digression to hoodies, complete with its own stipple hedcut portrait and Mark Zuckerberg and Marc Andreessen namechecks. The only other time I’ve seen an item of clothing associated so closely with powerful white tech professionals was colorful patterned socks in the New York Times, which describes the “natty ankles” of Dick Costolo and VC Jim Breyer. Admittedly you’re less likely to be mistaken for a castmember of The Wire while wearing pink and orange Happy Socks, although Hunter Walk did liken the pantleg-lift-reveal to a “gang sign.” Anyway, here’s what The Journal has to say about America’s most controversial and dangerous item of clothing:
“The blue shirts and khaki pants that defined the dress code—and ethos—of the 1999 tech bubble have given way to the cult of the hoodie. Many of tech’s leading lights, including the leaders of Dropbox, Angry Birds-maker Rovio Mobile Ltd. and Foursquare Labs Inc., wear hoodies to press conferences and business meetings.
Nancy Friedman, co-founder of a tween website called Kidzvuz.com in New York, says she was caught by surprise by the Web’s new dress code at her first tech conference in April.
She was wearing business casual—and just about everybody else was wearing a hoodie.
Her look was “uncoolness,” the 46-year-old wrote in a tweet. But the hoodie uniform reminded her of “teenagers who think they’re being unique but they all look alike,” she says. Still, she now has a hoodie with her own company logo, which features a bee.
The hoodie’s centrality to tech culture was solidified by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has made it his uniform. “I never take off the hoodie,” Mr. Zuckerberg told participants at the D8: All Things Digital conference last year, while sweating in the spotlight.
Cashmere hoodies are all the rage on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif., home to many big-name venture-capital firms, according to venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who recently brought on former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers as a special adviser. Mr. Andreessen says “the challenge for now is to get Larry to wear a hoodie.” But Mr. Zuckerberg, 27, did take off the hoodie for a February dinner with President Barack Obama. When Mr. Obama came to visit Facebook’s headquarters in April, he introduced himself as “the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie.” Mr. Zuckerberg ended the session by giving Mr. Obama a hoodie of his own.”