ELEVATING THE NORMAL
The pace of fashion has undeniably increased in the past 100 years. Garments which people might have kept for twenty years back in the seventies are now purchased at throw-away prices. This devaluing of seasonal products has led, in the last decade, to a reactionary development of the ‘wardrobe basic’. People are increasingly interested in investing in, and wearing, staple items like the hoodie.
During the nineties there was an evolution of the skater culture. Skaters – the blurrily defined gang of good-looking, unkempt renegades who have ridden their boards carelessly through life since the seventies – enjoyed a second wave of success in the nineties, in time with the baggy-trousered, laissez-faire grunge-style music representative of the decade.
The emergence of harder ‘gansta rap’, coupled with the success of grunge bands such as Nirvana, created a community of ‘counter-culturalism’ in the youth. Subcultures such as these have always utilized fashion (or an apparent rejection of fashion choices) to portray their distaste for a certain aspect of society, or to identify other like-minded people. The hip-hop kids and the skater kids bonded over their shared distaste for authority and ‘mainstream’ society, weaving the hoodie – their main uniform-esque garment – firmly into the perception of their subculture.
…who wants to be precious with something that is inherently supposed to be so casual?
The hoodie – or hooded-sweatshirt -, is claimed to have been originally developed by Champion Products in the early 1930’s. Hoods were added to sweatshirts to product athletes and laborers from the elements. Laborers working in cold environments – as well as high school and college athletes training during the winter time – were looking for clothing options that offered more protection and warmth than the ‘long john’-style underwear typically of the period.
Through the 20th and 21st centuries the hoodie was co-opted by many countercultural movements, imbuing the garment with a legacy of dubious, criminal associations. Even in the renaissance it is experiencing currently, the hoodie still carries that edge of disobedience.
One form of disobedience the hoodie is currently representative of is ‘design-fatigue’. The public is tired of the innumerable fashion choices available to them, and are moving away from the highly stylized fashions of the early 2000’s to a more iconoclastic, paired down style. This can be seen clearly in the success of fashion trends such as Athleisure, NormCore, and DadCore.
BENCH is a British heritage brand, established Manchester, 1989. The brand originally focused on produce men’s graphic tees, and were heavily influenced by the Skater culture of the late eighties and early nineties. In the last 28 years they have evolved into a globally successful lifestyle brand, stocking both mens and womenswear throughout the UK and Europe. Their A’W17/18 range pairs sleek cuts with bright pops of colour, and capitalizes on the hoodie’s perennial place in the fashion zeitgeist.
Emma Morrison, market editor for Vogue, is quoted regarding the hoodie; “who wants to be precious with something that is inherently supposed to be so casual?”. This attitude, a garment lacking in pretension or fuss, and a simple and colourful campaign reminiscent of the eye catching visual of sixties pop art, all come together to elevate BENCH’s collection of hoodies far beyond the wardrobe basic.
You can connect with BENCH and view this as well as many other collections on the Buying Show platform…