This exhibition considers the role of a fashion garment as a socio-political carrier. The hoodie is a staple of contemporary dress, hyped as a trend and a must-have item; but elsewhere it is also a topic of moral panic, banned by certain institutions and dissected by the media as an emblem of inequality, crime or deviancy. Curated by writer and curator Lou Stoppard.

The hoodie tells many stories that define our times – tales of social inequality, youth culture, subculture, police brutality, racism, privacy, fear and, in turn, style. With its roots in sports clothing and workwear, the hoodie as we know it today was popularised by Champion in the 1930s as a practical solution for workmen. It is now, arguably, western fashion’s last truly political garment – a garment that can incite fear, jealously, camaraderie and even fury in others – as well as being a garment you can lose your life by wearing. 

The hoodie sparks a range of emotions, communicating all manner of social and cultural ideas and nuances depending on the gender, geography, age, conduct and ethnicity of the wearer and, in turn, the prejudices and politics of the viewer. To some it is a clothing solution and nothing more. To others, its complexities are unavoidable. Based on the particular context, the hoodie can be both boring or iconic, bourgeois or rebellious, provide a safe shelter or trigger aggression, generate invisibility or privacy or make an explicit statement; you will find it on the streets, on sports tracks, on the catwalk and in the office.

The lingering question posed by the hoodie is simply: ‘Who enjoys the right to wear one without challenge?’ (The New York Times)

The hoodie's story is tied to other contemporary debates and industries: the rise of surveillance culture and the growing dominance of CCTV and facial recognition technologies; the boom in hip-hop culture and the role icons of this genre have in influencing fashion; conversations around androgyny and gender fluidity within clothing; and the breakdown of formal dress codes within the workplace, bolstered in part by the spread of freelancing and the rise of new, disruptive industries such as tech where past formalities are rejected. These themes are at the heart of this exhibition, which spotlights artists and makers who use the hoodie within their work while also contextualizing the hoodie within fashion history and spotlighting the diverse heritage of hooded garments.

Things and Materials

Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to increase the appreciation of the cultural and social significance of design and fashion. The exhibition is part of the programme track ‘Things and Materials’ that aims to investigate materials and things as forms, symbols and commodities, as well as examining the interlacing of aesthetic power with political and economic agency. Previous exhibitions in this series include Finders KeepersTemporary Fashion Museum, ‘All-time favourites’, Platform Body/Space and a series focusing on material innovation.

Building upon the Temporary Fashion Museum and its attempt at ‘re-fashioning the institution’, The Hoodie further explores the potential of the museum as a site of critique (rather than a representation factory). It explores how institutions, fashion and broader societal issues might relate to one another.




Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam