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What's in a hoodie?

Vanessa Nunez and other supporters of Trayvon Martin gather for a rally following the Trayvon Martin killing on April 9, 2012 in Miami, Fla.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has become well-known for his signature hoodie uniform.

Kai Ryssdal: The Facebook IPO roadshow continues today in Boston. And one of the biggest issues, right up there with privacy policies or returns on investment or corporate governance, is what founder Mark Zuckerberg is wearing.

Bloomberg TV clip: Mark and his signature hoodie. I mean he's actually showing investors he doesn't care that much, he's going to be him, and he's going to do what he's always done. And I think that's a mark of immaturity.

That was some analyst on Bloomberg TV the other day. But agree with him or don't, the hoodie has become something of a charged symbol. One that means very different things depending on who is wearing it.

From the Wealth & Poverty Desk, Marketplace's Krissy Clark did some asking around.


Krissy Clark: As soon as Wall Street started bashing the hoodie, voices from Silicon Valley came rallying to its defense, on -- where else? -- Twitter: the hashtag #lovethehoodie popped up.

Aaron Levie, the CEO of Box.com, says in the land of Internet entrepreneurs, hoodies are actually a status symbol.

Aaron Levie: Most of your time is spent just completely at the computer, doesn't matter what you show up to work in. I think Zuckerberg was accurately representing what the culture of Facebook is.

Yet it was only a few months ago that the same cozy outerware had a very different meaning, after the shooting of a teenage boy named Trayvon Martin, who was wearing a hoodie. Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris is an organizer with the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice.

Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris: When black boys wear hoodies, they are identified with criminal activity -- whereas the Mark Zuckerbergs, they look comfortable. And so what does that communicate about the politics of race and class in America?

A lot, says Simon Doonan. He's creative ambassador of Barneys New York.

Simon Doonan: You know, Mark Zuckerberg has adopted the uniform at a sort of disadvantage. He's already a tremendous target because of his wealth, so his disinclination to telegraph that wealth through his clothes is very understandable.

Doonan says the fact that the hoodie has such different meanings depending on who's wearing it, is exactly why it's so popular.

I'm Krissy Clark for Marketplace.

About the author

Krissy Clark is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty Desk.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has become well-known for his signature hoodie uniform.

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