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The hoodie: Consumer choice, fashion style and symbolic meaning
The death of an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida in 2012 not only drew public attention to vigilante justice, but also generated public discussion and debate on various issues related to popular culture, race and identity. One item of clothing – the hoodie – attracted massive media interest in this regard. In this exploratory study, the hoodie was used as a vehicle to investigate and illuminate how meanings are produced and perceived. According to the findings of this study, the choice to wear a hoodie can be based solely on such comfort factors as warmth and breathability, but it may also be intended to manifest an individual’s choice or taste. In addition, the study reveals that viewers’ interpretations of an individual’s appearance are not always accurate or aligned with the wearer’s intentions. Without fully understanding the wearer’s intentions and considering situational and contextual factors, misunderstanding, stereotyping, stigmatizing or even demonizing of a person may occur.