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Choosing the Right Hoodie

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Hoodies aren’t just for winter anymore. Nor is the hoodie just what you wear on laundry day. Over the last five years, there’s been an explosion in breathable workout hoodies, lightweight spring and summer hoodies, and long-sleeved, high-performance hooded tees.

And of course that’s all on top of the traditional, and still very popular, hooded sweatshirt. With this recent surge in options, knowing the ins and outs of hoodie style, weight, and fabric is essential for brands to nail this trend.

There are two primary styles of hoodie: pullover and zippered (either quarter-zip or full-zip).

The Pullover Hoodie

What it is

  • The style people think of first when they think of a hoodie. Similar to any other tee shirt or sweatshirt in that it doesn’t have a zipper or buttons to adjust it over the torso.
  • Traditionally comes with a drawstring to cinch the hood looser and tighter depending on the desired look and feel around the head.
  • It can come as either a sweatshirt or, for warmer climates or higher athletic performance, a hooded tee.
  • Some pullover hoodies come with a pouch pocket for storage and keeping your hands warm, and some don’t. This is purely a matter of preference.

Who it’s for

  • Comes in men’s/unisex styles as well as women’s styles. This is the most classic and recognized hoodie design that everyone, men and women, has in their closet.

Brands that choose it

  • The customizable pullover hoodie is a great option for simple consumer brands, the skate and streetwear markets, and brands working on a bit of a tight budget.

The Quarter-Zip Hoodie

What it is

  • A quarter-zip hoodie can be zipped from heart to collar, but still must be pulled over the head to be put on and taken off.
  • It’s the most boutique hoodie look, as it’s a bit more stylized than the traditional pullover or the full zip.
  • Sometimes includes a pouch pocket.

Who it’s for

  • Comes in men’s/unisex styles as well as women’s styles. This style often appeals to a more athletic or athleisure audience.

Brands that choose it

  • The quarter-zip styles is a great option for higher end brands looking to make a splash with their apparel while still remaining highly functional.

The Full-Zip Hoodie

What it is

  • As the name suggests, this hoodie has a zipper that runs all the way down the front.
  • More refined than the pullover, yet is a bit more practical than the quarter-zip as you’re able to toggle the zipper from waist to collar, and take it off like a jacket.
  • Like the quarter-zip, it can come with or without a split pouch pocket.

Who it’s for

  • Comes in men’s/unisex styles as well as women’s styles. This type of hoodie is appropriate for warmer climates and seasons as the zipper allows it to be fully opened for ventilation.

Brands that choose it

  • The full-zip style is especially great for sports and lifestyle brands, tech audiences, and can work well in either cold or warm weather.

Hoodie Weight and Fabric

Every style of hoodie mentioned above can come in a variety of weights and fabrics. Because different materials and weights dictate different functions, it’s important to understand the benefits and shortcomings of each before deciding what product is right for your audience.

Lightweight Hoodies

Lightweight, highly breathable hoodies are great for brisk summer evenings, winter trail runs, or gym workouts. Weighing anywhere from .5 to 1lb, they represent a great middle ground between style and function. They’re a great option for lifestyle, fitness, and outdoor recreation brands.

One of the most popular styles of lightweight hoodies are long sleeved hooded tees, usually made of some blend of cotton, polyester and sometimes rayon. Cotton blends like these are especially great for regions where it rains often, but doesn’t get extremely cold. There are many styles of lightweight long sleeved tee, from a simple jersey style to a stretchier, more form-fitting spandex blend for high-performance training.  

In addition to long sleeved tees, there are also lightweight hooded sweatshirts for a slightly more insulated, but still highly breathable hoodie. This cotton/poly blend pullover, for example, or this 100% combed and ringspun cotton full-zip are both great options for comfortable, soft sweatshirts that are still light enough for training or warm weather.

Midweight Hoodies

Midweight hoodies, aka the OG hoodies, are perfect for low-key winter adventures, lounging on the couch, or throwing in your bag for day/night music festival. They’re an especially great match for skate and streetwear markets, but also any brand looking to print their logo onto a piece of apparel known for its comfort and warmth.

Midweight hoodies weigh anywhere from 1 to 1.6lbs. They come in slightly heftier cotton blends than lightweight hoodies, like this hooded pullover from Independent Training or this full-zip from J. America, as well as some awesome fleece varieties. Midweight is also an area where cash-strapped brands would be smart to look, as there are many great low-cost options here.

Heavyweight Hoodies

Let’s face it, some environments are just too cold for the OG midweight hoodie. For that ski or snowboarding trip, or for those cold nights out camping, it’s good to have a bit more heft. In those cases, look no further than the heavyweight hoodie. These hoodies are made with thick cotton, polyester and fleece and have highly insulated interiors.

Weighing anywhere from 1.6 to 5 lbs, these cold weather warriors are great for winter sports and outdoor recreation brands, as well as brands with audiences in extremely cold climates. Make no mistake, these hoodies are extremely warm and comfortable, like wearing a hug.

The bottom line

Hoodies are a great way to express team spirit. Case in point: they’re one of the best-selling items for every professional sports team out there. As they become more stylish, and as their functions diversify, far more brands have the opportunity to take advantage of that team spirit when marketing to their followers.

Whether your audience wants a stylish summer hoodie, a lightweight workout hoodie, or a hoodie that can keep them warm in the thick of winter, there’s a hoodie out there to meet their needs. They’re already wearing them. Will they rep your brand on their next one?

Picture of Alex Hales
Alex Hales

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