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By Brad Tuttle
Updated: January 23, 2020 8:53 AM ET | Originally published: January 22, 2020
Courtesy of Amazon

What’s the best hoodie you can buy? Well, if money is no object, some people swear that Reigning Champ, American Giant, or an ultra-luxe brand like JW Anderson deserves the crown. But each of these “best” hoodies costs over $100. That last hoodie (or “felted sweater” as JW Anderson calls it), has an insane list price of $990, though it was “on sale” for $495 (50% off!) when we looked.

For a single freaking hooded sweatshirt.

So perhaps a different question needs to be asked: What’s the best hoodie for the money?

While the answer to such a question is obviously subjective, there are some good arguments to be made that the Hanes EcoSmart Fleece Hooded Sweatshirt is the best basic hoodie deal in the market today.

Courtesy of Amazon

This Hanes hoodie, which weighs 7.8 ounces and is made of 50% cotton and 50% polyester, is routinely ranked among the top 5 bestsellers at Amazon not only for men’s athletic hoodies but the general category of clothing, shoes, and jewelry. Hanes calls it an “EcoSmart” hoodie because it is made with “up to 5% polyester created from recycled plastic bottles.” It has a rating of 4.5 stars based on over 16,000 reviews (“great, comfy, warm, basic, cool looking, inexpensive and high quality” one reviewer says) and comes in a choice of two dozen colors and sizes ranging from Small to 5X-Large. And prices generally start at just $11.

Is this hoodie on sale for $11 in every color and size? Unfortunately, no. Amazon prices can be painfully confusing, because what you are charged can vary widely based on when you buy a product and whether there’s a sale, in addition to which color, style, and size you want. Amazon also muddles up the value proposition with inflated and misleading “list prices” that are rarely, if ever, charged.

For the Hanes hoodie in question, Amazon says that prices vary from $10.99 to $35.88. When you click on particular hoodies, you’ll find that the majority of men’s sizes and colors can be purchased for a flat $11.

Some options, however, are listed at prices such as $16.34, $15.50, or $23.03. These aren’t “sale” prices, mind you; they’re regular prices according to Amazon. Perhaps most confusing of all, select colors and sizes of this men’s Hanes hoodie had flat list prices of $25 and were “on sale” for $14.78 when we looked.

Courtesy of Amazon

Why are Amazon’s prices all over the map, for this hoodie and so many other products? Well, whereas most retailers generally charge the same price for any size or color of a particular item, that’s not how Amazon plays the game. Though the e-retailer never really explains how and why it charges different prices for essentially the same product, we assume there is an algorithm at play that measures consumer supply and demand in order to maximize profits.

In other words, Amazon is charging higher prices for certain hoodies because they believe that shoppers will pay more for certain hoodies. Amazon also sometimes shows different prices to different people, based on their purchasing and browsing history. As for the inflated “list” price that occasionally pops up, that’s a classic strategy used by retailers to trick shoppers into thinking they’re getting an extra good deal, possibly for a limited time only, to add a sense of urgency to the transaction.

But back to the Hanes men’s sweatshirt: Yes, it’s a pretty darn good hoodie deal, especially if you find the size and color you like for only $11.

While many women like wearing “men’s” hoodies, there are several similar Hanes sweatshirts designed and marketed specifically to women. And they can be quite cheap too, including the 80% cotton Hanes Full Zip EcoSmart Fleece Hoodie for $15, the 50% cotton, 50% polyester Hanes Full Zip Hooded Jacket starting at $7.99, and the 50% cotton, 50% polyester non-hooded Hanes V-Notch Pullover Fleece Sweatshirt starting at just $4.99 in select colors and sizes.

Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon is hardly the only place you can find great basic hoodie deals. Walmart has a 60% cotton, 40% polyester men’s Fruit of the Loom hoodie for only $9.96, and it matches Amazon’s $11 starting price for the men’s Hanes EcoSmart hoodie. You can also buy these same hoodies directly from Hanes, and though their website says the regular price is $26, we saw it on Wednesday for just $10.40 in many sizes and colors, though it’s since gone up to $15.99.

Meanwhile, Target’s price for the same men’s Hanes hoodie in a variety of styles and colors is a penny cheaper than Walmart, at $10.99. And if you’re already shopping around for hoodies and other comfortable activewear, it’s worth checking out Target’s brand-new “athleisure” line. It’s called All in Motion and features a variety of options for women, men, and kids in all body shapes and sizes — including a moisture-wicking men’s hoodie for $32.

Courtesy of Target

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