When thinking of stylish garments, the zip-up hoodie probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Bland at best, sloppy at worst, this tech-bro staple might be practical and functional, but fashionable? Not so much. With that said, it is cosy, comfortable and versatile, and it can be an asset to your layering game if you arm yourself with a good one.
Despite its perceived sloppiness and ties to Mark Zuckerberg, we firmly believe that the zip-up hoodie is a modern wardrobe essential. It blends the casual comfort of a pullover hoodie with the full-zip convenience of a jacket. It’s a four-season garment that can be worn either as a top layer in mild weather or underneath more substantial outerwear when the temperature plummets.
If you don’t already own a zip-up hoodie, now is as good a time as any to add one to your wardrobe. To help you make the right choice, we’ve pulled together some key buying advice along with our top picks of the best brands making zip-up hoodies for men.
Zip-Up Vs. Pullover
So, why not just stick with a pullover hoodie? After all, it’s a classic design that does pretty much the same job, and it’s usually a little bit cheaper too. For us, it’s a question of convenience. A full zip makes a hoodie much easier to put on and take off. It also means that you can wear it open for ventilation, which also lets you show off whatever T-shirt or shirt you’re wearing underneath.
Essentially, the zip-up hoodie is a more versatile version of the pullover, and will suit those who like to get the maximum amount of wear out of each and every purchase. For example, a pullover hoodie would likely be too hot and stuffy to wear during the summer, but an unfastened zip-up hoodie over a T-shirt is still nice and breezy.
Most zip-up hoodies tend to be made from fleece-backed jersey cotton, which is warm, cosy and comfortable but also breathable and absorbent. This is the classic choice, but there are other options out there too.
Some sportswear brands make use of technical fabrics in their zip-ups. These are usually synthetic materials that are designed to wick moisture away from the skin, making them good for sports. There are also outdoor brands making zip-up hoodies with fleece and even with small amounts of synthetic or down insulation.
Some people prefer their hoodies to be oversized for added comfort and cosiness, but if you want to be able to layer effectively then it needs to sit relatively close to the body. It shouldn’t be tight either – just the right size to throw on over a T-shirt or sweater and layer a big coat on top of comfortably.
Like most garments, the price of zip-up hoodies varies a lot. The main factors that determine the number on the tag are the materials, the country of manufacture and whose name is stitched into the label.
Generally, a simple jersey zip-up hoodie from a high-street store like H&M or Uniqlo will cost you around £20-£40. Big logo graphic hoodies from designer labels like Gucci and Balenciaga are likely to be upwards of £400, and high-end hoodies from brands like Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana that are known for fine fabrics might cost anywhere up to a grand.
The Best Zip Up Hoodie Brands
Direct-to-consumer brand Asket is committed to decluttering wardrobes by creating high-quality timeless essentials. We’re talking garments like the perfect plain white tee, immaculately fitting Italian-made jeans and zip-up hoodies too.
The brand’s signature zip hoodie features a two-way zipper, is available in four muted colour options and you can even choose your length to ensure a perfect fit.
L’Estrange is all about elevating the everyday basics. The British brand blends comfort with premium touches and impeccable fits to create a range of versatile garments that tread the line between smart and casual.
The Hoodie is one of L’Estrange’s signature styles. It mixes the laid-back silhouette of a hoodie with the meticulous attention to detail of a tailored jacket.
In Italy, getting stunning Italian-made garments is as simple as taking a trip to the local menswear store. For those who live elsewhere, it’s not quite so straightforward.
Luca Faloni is a brand on a mission to change that by collaborating with the country’s finest makers and artisans and bringing their work to the global audience. The label even makes a cashmere zip-up hoodie, which is handknitted in Bergamo and features a two-way zipper and twin front pockets.
British brand Sunspel makes upscale basics for people who want to give their wardrobe a solid foundation. Pieces range from underwear to tailoring and even loungewear, including loopback zip-up hoodies that are available either as standalone garments or as part of a matching tracksuit set.
Active lifestyle brand Lululemon almost single-handedly started the athleisure movement. It creates high-end athletic apparel geared largely towards yoga, but with a stylish aesthetic that works outside of the gym too.
Hoodies therefore have long been some of the label’s bestselling products, like the City full-zip hoodie, which features zip pockets, a funnel neck, hidden internal pockets and soft terry fabric for warmth and comfort.
Colourful Standard specialises in simple wardrobe basics using a vibrant and varied colour palette. Expect to find garment-dyed zip-up hoodies in both muted and vivid block colours, made from eco-friendly organic cotton and environmentally approved dyes.
When shopping for no-frills wardrobe essentials at reasonable prices, Uniqlo should be your first port of call. The Japanese retailer is known for its simple yet stylish basics like slim-fit Oxford shirts, affordable selvedge denim and well-fitting plain tees, and it makes some great zip-up hoodies too.
The brand’s sweats are available in a range of versatile colours and cost under £40 a pop, making them perfect for stocking up on.
Heritage sportswear brand Champion has been in the hoodie game longer than most. The American label specialises in fleece-backed jersey cotton hoodies and sweats that are known for their ‘reverse weave’ fabric, which eliminates shrinkage by cutting the fleece in a particular way.
They’re simple, uncluttered garments, usually with minimal branding and contrast pull cords to the hood.
Hoodies don’t have to be made from fleece cotton. They can be much more technical. Arc’teryx’s Atom and Proton hoodies are some of the Canadian outdoor brand’s best selling and most accessible products, blending the shape and wearability of a regular hoodie with the techy details of an alpine sports jacket.
These hoodies feature synthetic insulation and are designed to be either worn with a T-shirt in dry conditions or paired with a shell in cold, wet conditions.