I know, I know, don't believe everything you read on the internet. But when outlets from Slate to Refinery 29 saw fit to declare that there is one true hoodie designed to rise above and rule all others—yes, I'm summarizing—I had to check it out. The sweatshirt in question is made in the USA by San Francisco-based American Giant.
A year ago the hype around the brand was such that their hoodies were back-ordered for months on end, but all of the women's colors that weren't marked limited editions were in stock and ready to ship when I looked. A week later, my heavyweight full-zip hooded sweatshirt in Phantom Gray arrived at my door. Total cost: $89, including free shipping.
Think about it: what else that can be legitimately described as the greatest of all time can you get for under $100? If I want the world's greatest car, I'm going to have to shell out six figures for a Tesla Roadster or a Porsche 911 or something similar. The world's greatest handbag is probably sold by Hermés and will set a buyer back at least $10,000. Comparatively, this hoodie is a complete steal.
I've been wearing it non-stop since it came in the mail, and while all the praise is a little over-the-top, I can confirm that it's a great piece of clothing. On weekends I want to be casual without looking sloppy, and despite a soft, fleece-like interior, the material is actually quite stiff so it doesn't stretch out too much on your body. It's a little like getting a warm hug all day long.
American Giant makes much of the ribbing around the shoulders and side panels, and that attention to detail is probably why the hoodie looks so sleek on. Instead of lumping up around the shoulders and sleeves, those areas (and the torso) have more of a slim fit. There's also an exterior patch re-enforcing the elbow that extends all the way down to the cuff of the sleeve.
Hoodies, especially those made for women, have always annoyed me because they seem more concerned with being cute than being functional, with pockets obviously added as afterthoughts and hoods that stopped short of covering all my hair, instead leaving room for the front of my hair to peek out like I'm Little Red Riding Hood and not a real person who is just trying to run errands without getting rained on. Not here. The kanga pockets have just enough room below the hand holes to tuck in keys or a phone without worrying that they'll fall out, while still tight enough not to form an unsightly stomach pooch when used.
The hood itself is a revelation, fitting snugly in a range of positions that are best described using Star Wars characters: held back with the front of hair exposed (The Leia), set to shield your face from the elements, but not from the field of view (The Obi-Wan), and all the way forward until the whole world is shut out (Emperor Palpatine).
I've had other hoodies before, but they were always layers of last resort. This one feels like it will be the last one I ever buy, and for all the right reasons. Sometimes the internet gets it right after all.