hoodies have an image problem. For those who have forgotten, or
for those Midwesterners like me who called them “mop tops,”
Bajas are roomy pullovers, slit on each side, with a hood, a
huge front center pocket, and 2 thick ropes at the neck that
were of no real practical use.
Still can’t remember the Baja? Here you go: Jeff Spicoli,
Fast Times at Ridgemont
High. Now you got it, right? And therein lies the
These shirts are forever associated with, well, stoner chic.
Thanks to the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High
and Sean Penn’s now-legendary zoned out surfer dude character,
the Baja is, in fashion circles at least, a bit of a joke.
Granted, Spicoli did dress his red-and-white-striped pullover up
a bit by adding a white turtleneck underneath.
He was wearing it
in the scene where Spicoli orders a pizza during class, much to
the dismay of teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston).
not all Jeff Spicoli’s fault, actually. These tops were already
ubiquitous at Grateful Dead shows and among surfing communities. Fair
enough, but it’s too bad they got so closely associated with
counterculture and, especially, drugs.
Because Bajas are pretty cool. They are
warm and slouchy and cozy and practical. And they have an interesting,
not-quite-burlap feel to them and smell very earthy when they get rained
on. (Can you tell I spent a considerable amount of time in the 80s
wearing a Baja? Call me biased.)
So. 2010 is seeing a reappearance, if
only slightly, of the Baja. Only now it’s called a Baja hoodie because “hoodie”
is so much more au courant, non? Sure, you can find them at places like
bravesurf.com, where they are billed as the Original Senor Lopez
Baja Pullover, and
hippieshop.com, where they are currently on sale for $19.95. Both
these are poly/acrylic/cotton blends of recycled fibers and look exactly
like the ones of 2 decades ago.
But then. Over at Free
People there’s a very loose re-interpretation called the Baja
Pullover, which will set you back $128. It’s cotton and acrylic, no
pocket, with snaps on the placket instead of the fat ties, and lots of
embroidering at the neck, wrists, and tunic-length waist. It’s a nice
top, but I’m not sure anyone but Free People would associate it with the Spicoli Baja of yore (which perhaps is the point).
you’re in the market for a 21st century Baja, I’d like to point you to
one at Rawganiquea, known for the last decade for its eco-friendly,
sweatshop-free, style-minded clothing.
Rawganique’s Baja is 100% organic hemp (pictured at left). Now let’s just stop right there. How perfect is that! A little
cheeky, a little tongue-in-cheeky, the perfect embracing of this top’s
But here’s the kicker—it’s really pretty
lovely. The material looks soft, and the overall cut is still generous
but far less slouchy. The ties at the neck appear to serve an actual
purpose and the neck is cut more like a hooded college sweatshirt, that
is, higher at the neck and rounded instead of a deep V. It would look
perfectly at home in a yoga studio.
In short, if you’re in the market for a
Baja and you didn’t save your old one, you have several choices. You can
go with the hard-core Baja that looks just like you remember, which may
raise a few eyebrows, or at the very least come off as slightly ironic.
Or you can go with one that’s Baja in name only, in which case what’s
the point? Or you can settle on the Baja hoodie that’s grown up and
become responsible, but kept some of its counterculture edge.
Just like you, right?
||1989, Alli & Jules of Like Totally 80s