Every autumn a piece of novelty clothing appears, covering the wearer from head to toe, wrapping them in a feeling of embryonic safety. We’ve had the onesie (as popularised by One Direction and Robbie Williams), the Slanket, the Snuggie, the mermaid tail blanket. And this year we have the Oodie.
Resembling a blanket with a hood and featuring versions covered in doodles of unicorns, cartoon avocados, sloths, pizzas and in shades of tie-dye, it might look like a twee gimmick but its selling point is its comfort level.
Searches for Oodie are up a huge 207% in the last six months in the UK, and 220% worldwide, according to Digitaloft.co.uk, while demand is so high that orders being taken now will only be shipped out in late December. Similar products have appeared in its wake, such as the Snuggie – as worn by Geordie Shore’s Chloe Ferry, The Only Way is Essex’s Amber Turner and Anna Vakili from Love Island.
Perhaps its success is down to the pandemic shifting ideas on what we want from our clothes. For those who are able to work from home, the emphasis is less on the functionality of our garments and more about their cosiness. “It’s not necessarily about choosing comfort over cool any more, because comfort is cool,” says Tara Drury, a retail analyst from market intelligence company Edited.
Created by Australian brothers David and Todd Fogarty, the idea for the Oodie came to David organically. “I came up with the idea of a really warm blanket but you can’t really walk around in a blanket,” he explained to Australian newspaper The Advertiser. “People are just looking for anything to wear around the house at the moment.”
The “blanket hoodie” is made with two types of fleece (flannel and sherpa) and sells itself as the “warmest… piece of clothing you’ll ever own”, rivalling any fleece items you might already have. Photographer Anthony Mayze, who has “lived in my Oodie for days on end”, agrees, saying that it’s “actually one of the most comfiest items I’ve ever worn. It keeps you nice and warm and is easy to move around in”. Content creator Brittany Sanders, who owns three, says: “It makes me feel like a big marshmallow. They are super comfy and you have such a nice, soft and high-quality experience while wearing them.”
Items like the Oodie and weighted blankets, which offer a simulacrum of touching, can appeal to those who feel deprived of physical contact in the pandemic. Just as people are watching AMSR videos to help with their anxiety and buying candles and diffusers that evoke familiar fragrances, they are pivoting to items like the Oodie to give themselves familiar tactile sensations of wellbeing.
Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer at The Strategist, a product website, said: “I definitely think more and more people are seeking that ‘tight hug’ feeling. Plus, with the pandemic, many of us are isolated from loved ones so we might need to get that tactile release.”
Professor Carolyn Mair, behavioural psychologist and author of The Psychology of Fashion, adds: “We are turning to our clothes to give us that reassurance and replace the looseness we felt in previous times, when we took socialising and physical touching for granted. Soft clothes can help us feel physically and psychologically safe.”