Every single American today has at least one sweatshirt in their closet. In California, everyone probably has more than just a few that they cycle through! The humble sweatshirt finds users in all seasons. It’s a natural choice for fall and spring, but you’ll even find Californians rocking their sweatshirts all through the summer. Of course, they’re also a great choice for layering during winter as well.
While not exactly a new invention – hooded clothes have been around for millennia – it’s only in the past few generations that sweatshirts have earned their place as an apparel standard in our closets. Sweatshirts, as we know them today, were not a Californian innovation either – they were practical workwear for meat packers in upstate New York.
However, like with blue jeans, this practically firmly made it a popular piece of Americana. But not before they first earned a spot in the hearts of Californians.
Sweatshirts for the working classes
As we all know, fur coats can be incredibly expensive and they can be hard to move in. Even real wool coats have the same issues. They’re also difficult to clean properly, which can be a problem if you work in messy conditions. This informed the design of the cotton hooded sweatshirt that we know today as hoodies.
This affordable, easily laundered garment became standard for meat packers and other people working in messy, cold conditions in the 1930s and they’re still used for this kind of work to this day. Variants without the hood later appeared, giving us what most of us today call sweatshirts. Just like the blue jean, you can still get sweatshirts true to their working-class roots, though you can definitely find those with a more trendy upmarket appeal.
A campus icon
Shortly after the sweat became ubiquitous for those working in cold, messy conditions, they became part of American university campus chic. Hoodless sweatshirts with university or Greek society logos and typography came into their own from the about the 1940s onwards and they’re still a part of college life today. However, it wouldn’t be until they became mainstream in California a few decades later that they would become a must-have for every American.
The sweatshirt as ‘Pop Californiana’
California’s emerging surf and skate scenes captured the imaginations of the entire country, as did the numerous films that were set and produced in California, featuring styles and subcultures that at the time, were only to be found in the Golden State. From a workwear and intellectual symbol, the sweatshirt then became a symbol of the youth, and in a way it still is today.
When the sweatshirt caught on, more people throughout the world started to realize the comfort and versatility of the style. In California, the hoodie remains especially popular thanks to the varied but mild climates in the state. The sweatshirt also became the perfect complement to the printed t-shirt, which was also experiencing a renaissance of its own.
Today, are a popular option, not just in the state, but all over the world. Whatever you think about them, they’re honest, individual, and supremely versatile – qualities that we should probably look for out of more things in life.
Which type of sweatshirts do you like? Drop us a line. We’d love to know!