Published Jan 01, 2006It might seem harmless enough, but in the UK, the hoodie may be the most feared item of clothing in the land. Bluewater, Europe's largest shopping centre, introduced a zero-tolerance policy toward "intimidating conduct" earlier this year. Endorsed by British PM Tony Blair, the policy prohibits the wearing of clothing that can deliberately obscure the face, targeting the hoodie, and has influenced similar decisions across the country.
This hasn't gone down too well with many, including UK grime artist Lady Sovereign, who launched a campaign for her beloved wardrobe staple with the savethehoodie.com website. It features an online petition, an arcade-style game where you can pick up sovereign coins while trying to avoid store security, and an irreverent history of the hood featuring everyone from Little Red Riding Hood to monks.
"I'm sure Jesus wore a hoodie and you can't really see him getting in trouble," she says. In addition to the website, Sov's latest UK single, called "Hoodie," features her mocking various sartorial choices, urging them to follow her instead. While the song, written before the shopping centre ban came into effect, takes a jovial approach to the situation, it's clearly reflective of brewing social tensions in the UK. This past summer, a Manchester young offender, served with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order under the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act, was banned from wearing a hoodie for five years. While the stipulation has been removed, the sentiment that people who wear a hoodie are predisposed to crime was made clear.
"What about people with long hair that goes over their face?" Sovereign asks. "What about people who wear baseball caps? It's just silly and irrelevant. It's people getting scared. All these posh people that don't leave the house and don't know what's going on." Sov wants to eventually bring the online petition to the PM's house on Downing Street. Despite these lofty goals it doesn't seem like the forthright and opinionated Sov is orchestrating an elaborate marketing plan. "There are no gimmicks at all. I like the hoodie that's why I'm sticking up for it now."
Del F. Cowie