Hoodies & Sweatshirts For Men | 80s and 90s

Casual clothing encompasses a huge variety of styles, with their popularity varying according to age groups, culture, ethnicity, and more. There is, however, apparel that goes through all of these factors; hoodies & sweatshirts for men are a great example of this.

Vintage styles are no exception. The 80s and 90s were golden times for these clothes and they remain very relevant even today.

Comfort and unique designs make the vintage models the way to go. With this guide, we aim to provide you with the background information on hoodies and sweatshirts, the 80s and 90s styles, and how you can incorporate them differently today.

Make sure to check out our hoodies and sweatshirts reviews to know more about acquiring some of the best garments available online.

First Sweatshirts

If you are familiar with sweatshirts then you may be wondering why are they so buff yet cooler than other similar clothes. Well, this is because sweatshirts were originally designed to be a warm and comfortable (all-cotton) practice football jersey. This was during the 1920s.

You can see the football heritage in the v notch it had around the collar to collect sweat (hence the name sweatshirt), the protection it offers, and the comfort to practice athletic activities with it. Over the next years, the sweatshirt would evolve beyond sports, however, this look remains popular even today.

So what happened to it during the next decades?

The transition from sports apparel to everyday clothing was due to factors like style uniqueness and the need for warm clothes in freezing environments, Sweatshirts evolved into hoodies, and starting in the 1930s, these were produced in parallel.

Sweatshirts continued mainly as sports apparel during the following decades, but by mid-century, a sense of fashion and individuality was added to them via messages printed on them. The first ones were university sweatshirts. Just like with T-shirts, catchphrases and political messages conquered sweatshirts.

By the 1970s sweatshirt fashion boomed with the introduction of matching pants; from this point on you could combine other clothing and accessories to look good even when you were exercising.

Hoodies hit the scene

The hooded sweatshirts or hoodies were first produced in the 1930s by a Champion (back then it was known as knickerbocker knitting company), a brand that is still present today.

As we said, protection from freezing temperatures was the primary reason for its development, but after the mid-XX century, keeping a mysterious, intimidating, and low profile image also became a reason for acquiring one. Printed messages on them were a common sight.

By the mid and late 1970s, its popularity as everyday wear skyrocketed, giving place to the phenomena seen in the next decades.

80s and 90s Sweatshirts & Hoodies

The 80s saw a phenomenon that would change sweatshirts and hoodies. This would continue into the 90s and beyond.

With so many subcultures emerging during those days, the sweatshirts and hoodies split and adapted to the ideas that each and every one of them conveyed.

Some of the most popular groups that adopted these clothes were:

Skaters: During the 80s skaters were skating began to become a mainstream sport. Casual trousers and Logo t-shirts were the primary skatewear, but so were hoodies.

As skating was considered a rebellious activity, shielding yourself from unwanted looks was a good enough reason to wear hoodies. Comfort, protection from falls, and portraying that street look were also important so sweatshirts were popular too.

Punks: Punks being anti-establishment, underground, and heavily music-focused movement that gained a lot of strength during these times, it was natural for them to gravitate towards these clothes.

Sweatshirts with offensive messages and musical references were very common, however, hoodies (or using the hood) were mostly popular among women. This was because mohawks and other spiky bright coloured hairstyles were a signature part of the movement for men, so you definitely couldn’t afford to mess up your hair.

Of course, this could be forgiven when you were trying to hide from someone. Hoodies provided this aid for them.

Hip-Hop: We know the late 70s, 80s, and 90s were huge for hip-hop culture. Out of all the subcultures who were adopting hoodies and sweatshirts, hip-hop was probably the one who used them the most.

With hip-hop culture, you had graffiti artists who wore hoodies while painting the streets in order to avoid being recognized.

You also had rappers, whose rebellion message was transmitted through baggy clothes with printed lines, as a natural recipient of the hoodie and sweatshirt fever.

And last but not least you had breakdancers, who needed both the comfort and the “swag” of these clothes to convey their message.

Surfers: A group that is not normally associated with these clothes, surfers mainly used sweatshirts as beachwear. Given the warmness and sweat-absorption properties of sweatshirts, surfers used them right after exiting the ocean to remove excess water and keep their bodies warm.

Others: Among other groups who pride themselves in wearing sweatshirts and hoodies we have the Cholos, Geeks, Metalheads, and Hobos.

Finally, during these decades, sweatshirts were adopted by designers, and brand logos could be seen almost in every piece. Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Adidas, and of course Champion, were among the most popular brands.

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A brief note on Hoodies and Sweatshirts Fashion

Throughout their history, sweatshirts and hoodies have been oversized and slouchy pieces whose evolution involved 3 factors: Fabrics, designs, and complementary apparel.

As we said before, the original sweatshirt was all-cotton made. Over the next years, fabrics such as polyester, hem, and rayon we used in the fabrication of both types of sweatshirts.

Nowadays the sweatshirt fleece, which is a combination of some of the fabrics just mentioned, is the premium sweatshirt and hoodie fabric. Stay tuned for our guide on fabrics to learn more about these and other clothing materials.

When it comes to designs, lots of new variations have been introduced since the first sweatshirt hit the market. Zip-Up, Pullover, Fitted, Baja, Sleeveless, and Button-Up sweatshirts/hoodies are great examples of this.

But not only the appearance changes; as you can see from the previous sections, different subcultures and brands added their own printed messages, wearing style, and purpose, giving a unique trait to the clothes.

Last but not least, sweatshirts and hoodies became a fashion item too; outfits centered around them became a thing and complementary apparel was central to looking good in these clothes. Casual, Party and Semi-formal outfits with sweatshirts are not as uncommon as one might think.

Encourage yourself to try vintage models!

It is true that more recent sweatshirt apparel outplays vintage ones when it comes to fabrics, fitting, and weight. However, there are still many advantages to the latter ones.

Pricewise they are excellent as most of them are sold as used or secondhand. They are also extremely durable and can resist years and years of usage without tearing down. Comfort-wise they are also excellent and tend to be puffier; a great alternative for home wear and casual wear.

So there you go! With this general background on sweatshirts and hoodies, you can start looking at which types are of your preference. Remember that in our reviews we give you some suggestions for the best apparel online, so definitely check them out.

And with that said, we hope you learned one or two things and we thank you for stopping by Vintage Shape. Don’t forget to talk with us via the comment section down below!

Have a great day!

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2 thoughts on “Hoodies & Sweatshirts For Men | 80s and 90s”

  1. When I was coming up in the early 60’s, clothes were the least thing me and my friends worried about. Playing sports, getting good grades and music was really more important than fashion (And of course, girls topped the list.) Parents back then, was normally in charge of the wardrobe department. (What they like, we had to like). Also, the selection of clothes wasn’t the greatest! But all-in-all, our parents instilled in us how important education was over how someone dresses. So we lived by that advice.  

    1. Wow, being born in the 90s I got to experience a very different view on fashion than you Kennedy. I can’t imagine myself wearing the same things as my dad :S but I guess I wouldn’t mind if I would have been born during that time. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Kennedy!

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