The 22.6 per cent rise in shoppers at Bluewater is not to be sniffed at and looks certain to cement the hoodie ban. Manchester’s led the way with a ban on hoodies at the Trafford Centre (only slightly smaller than Bluewater) for seven years. Putting up your hood in air-conditioned shopping centre doesn’t prove criminal intent, so I’m not at all comfortable with the ban, but I don’t think it’s entirely misplaced.
I had the misfortune to leave London for a village near Cardiff in my early teens and suddenly found myself out in a small provisional city with nothing much to do. From the mid-1980s and into the late ’90s Cardiff topped league tables for nighttime violence, but you were okay if you avoided groups of lads in shiny Burton suits. The thugs’ grannies thought their grandkids ever so smart and, ironically, were far more likely to cross the street on seeing my more grungy, but perfectly harmless, friends.
It’s silly to pretend that the fashion kids adopt isn’t a product of the subculture in which they find themselves. Some subcultures are more tolerant of anti-social behaviour, petty theft et cetera than others. While shiny Burton suits slipped under the older generation’s radar, hoodies have not. And this time they’re right.