Mall sticks to hoodie ban despite campaign

A mall that banned hoodies is refusing to embrace Hoodie Day, an initiative aimed at fighting the bad rap given youths who wear the trendy gear.

Hoodie Day is part of Youth Week, which starts on May 26. It is aimed at getting people to look past the clothing to see the young person inside them.

Favoured by hip-hop culture and United States street gangs, hooded sweatshirts have been linked with youth crime in New Zealand - unfairly so, says Sarah Helm, spokeswoman for Hoodie Day organisers New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development.

"Like young people, hoodies are often incorrectly stereotyped," she said. Youth Week aimed to "foster a society in which young people are supported and nurtured".

But her plea for stores and malls to stop discriminating against hoodies did not sway Coastlands Mall, in Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast.

Coastlands banned people wearing hoods up in 2005 and will not alter its rules for Hoodie Day, said spokeswoman Jan Forrest.

Shoplifters were using hoodies to hide their faces from security cameras and staff, she said.

"[It] really appears to not really be an issue with anyone - shoppers and our stores."

Customers can still have hoodies, provided the hood is worn down.

At least one mall in Britain has adopted the same policy.

Ms Helm had hoped Hoodie Day, on May 30, would encourage companies to review their policies and practices and not judge young people unfairly.

"A lot of the same malls also sell hoodies, so it makes absolutely no sense to ban them," she said.

"It is what is under the hoodie that counts.

"Given the chance, a hoodie can be your best friend - warm, comforting.

"Young people are all different, and if you give them the chance, they will disprove the negative rap they get."

NZPA

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