We use the term “hoodie” carelessly. There is no one hoodie, after all, just like there is no one pair of jeans or one way to peel and slice a mango. There are many hoodies for many people. There are the too-small hoodies that can only be worn unzipped, to frame a popcorn-catching Captain America graphic tee. There are the form-fitted hoodies, that highlight a squirrely physique carved out of startup dreams and bulletproof coffee. There are the sporty hoodies–breathable, waterproof, and reflecting their marathon accomplishments to the entire world. There are the Kylie Jenner hoodies, too big, too graphic, too expensive, too talked about.
A hoodie is a mirror of your soul, broadcast on your body. It should also be relatively affordable and launder easily, too.
So when Ikea announced a hoodie that it would sell for $25–designed with L.A. fashion designer Chris Stamp as part of a new series of external collaborations Ikea is doing to learn new techniques and get out of its own tasteful, affordable Scandinavian design rut–the only question was, who will this hoodie make me? A leisurely Poang chair of a man, or a buttoned-up, highly organized Kallax shelf?
I open its plastic pouch to be greeted with a whiff of ozone. Without washing, I toss it over my head–it’s the pullover type of hoodie lacking a zipper or pull cords, which speaks to Ikea’s tendency to cut back components in the name of production and price efficiency.
The blend is 83% cotton, which leaves 17% polyester that feels like the unpleasant surface of a wetsuit on my skin rather than a soft cotton cloud. Walking to the mirror, I examine its details. It’s a medium that looks more like a large, with a tennis tail that makes it hang more like an oversized T-shirt than any the more common, elastic-bottomed hoodie. I look ready for a ’90s rave under a bridge, perhaps set to some modern-day dubstep.
But over a few days of wear, I’ll admit, the Ikea hoodie grows on me. It’s cut well and lays superbly. The polyester defies wrinkles. I wash it, throw it in a high heat dryer, and it doesn’t shrink–but it does soften to feel less like chemicals and more like clothing.
As I step out of an Uber in Wicker Park–a hip, but honestly not too hip part of Chicago (think current day Williamsburg, maybe)–a young woman a decade younger than I gives me a lingering, head-to-toe once over. Maybe . . . dubstep suits me?
I’m heading to a meeting with Queer Eye‘s Bobby Berk a few minutes later. When I get there, I’m tempted to ask him, “Hey, I know you don’t do fashion on the show, but what do you think about this hoodie?” I decide not to. He doesn’t seem like a dubstep guy or a rave guy or a hoodie guy. His wool suit fits like his tailor spliced lamb DNA directly into his epidermis.
In any case, Ikea’s hoodie is eminently buyable–$25 for a hoodie is a pretty low-risk investment, and Ikea’s first and apparently only foray into fashion seems like an interesting artifact to own. When I ask Ikea’s head of design, Marcus Engman, if we should expect more fashion from the company, he destroys any and all hopes of that possibility. “No actually, we’re not going into clothing at all,” he says. Ikea made a hoodie with Stamp simply because the company collaborated with him, and he’s a fashion designer by trade. “But working with fashion designers, you learn how they work with narrative,” Engman continues, “and the concept of reinventing themselves under one umbrella and brand.”
If nothing else, Ikea’s hoodie offers a chance to reinvent yourself, too. At least as much as one can with particleboard and wood laminate–or, in this case, 83% cotton.
You can find the Ikea hoodie online, but it’s only available in stores.