In one of his first press conferences as New York City mayor, Eric Adams made a bold proclamation. “If you know it or not, I’m the first mayor in the history of New York that wore a hoodie,” he said, as he slipped on a white, paint-splattered sweatshirt that read “Vaccine and Testing” across the front. The occasion was a PR appearance to help promote an executive order aimed to help small businesses recover from the ongoing challenges caused by COVID-19, but the main event was briefly derailed for a little bit of showboating about his personal style. Could Adams possibly be correct?
A quick Google search said otherwise. In fact, Mayor Adams’ direct predecessor, Bill DeBlasio, was spotted wearing hoodies on numerous occasions, mostly while en route to the gym, where he notably spent a lot of time. It’s harder to find such photos of the mayor before him, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, wearing a hoodie, though there is this gem of him wearing a five-gallon hat. (For what it’s worth, Bloomberg’s casual knitwear of choice appears to be the more formal half-zip sweater.)
It’s unclear exactly what Adams meant by his comment—though I emailed his press office to clarify, and haven’t heard back. Did he mean the first mayor ever to don a hoodie at all? Or while officially on-duty? And what, pray tell, did he mean to convey about himself as the brand-spanking-new leader of our country’s largest metropolis by pointing it out? That he will have a casual approach to governing? That he’s well aware of streetwear’s ascendancy? That he, too, hates that going back to the office means abandoning the cozy uniforms we’ve grown accustomed to?
The hoodie, of course, has become a symbol of power in just the last couple of decades, thanks to its popularity amongst high-ranking tech executives in Silicon Valley. But what was once an aggressive sartorial challenge to the status quo has now mellowed into something more commonplace. And while the hoodie has been so thoroughly absorbed by the culture it seems unlikely that Adams, in his impromptu moment of tossing on a hoodie over his button-up and tie, meant anything too coded about power, then why did he point it out? It’s no big secret that politics game is in large part about appearances; for good or bad, elected officials love to use their clothing to communicate with us.
My guess is that Adams is trying to set a certain tone, now that he’s actually on the job—and that, while he has challenges ahead, he’s also attempting to strike a casual, “cool dad” vibe right off the bat. The hoodie may no longer be the most powerful garment in town—that’s now the zip fleece vest—but at least Adams has not embraced the “power party shirt”. Yet.