I don't like wearing hoodies, but I like wearing this hoodie.
The Zip-Up from gaming clothing manufacturer Ateyo is a luxury hoodie designed with the needs of gamers in mind. But you don't have to be serious about gaming to enjoy its unique design. You just need to be serious about comfort.
Ateyo Creative Director Breanne Harrison-Pollock tells Inverse that she and fellow co-founder Rachel Feinberg approach product design similar to the "games-as-a-service" model used with titles like Fortnite, Fall Guys, and Animal Crossing. Ongoing updates refresh and refine the experience, except instead of a new season or battle pass, the Zip-Up might get a new stitch or a fabric modification.
"We approach the design kind of like how you would a game," Pollock says. "We're always updating things and asking for feedback. We're changing our zipper pull or seam to make it better. The process and quality are important to us."
For all intents and purposes, the version we reviewed is the Zip-Up 4.0. And it seems as though this cozy addition to your closet will only get better over time.
Sophisticated Gamer is an Inverse series focused on elevated gaming accessories you won't be embarrassed to show your Tinder date. We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too.
Harrison-Pollock and Feinberg both graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2014 with BFAs in fashion. After moving to New York City, they wound up exploring PC gaming cafes in Flushing, Queens. Looking at the sea of hoodies and screen-printed shirts, they saw an opportunity for change — and a specific need.
Everybody puts on specific clothes to exercise or go to work, but what should gamers wear during marathon gaming sessions, especially pro players and streamers? Tackling that question was a focus since Ateyo began in 2016. In 2020, similar principles have become even more timely: What's the best thing to wear when working from home?
"Nobody had really thought about how do you design clothes to sit at a computer all day," Harrison-Pollock says. "And how do you design clothes that help you perform better as a gamer?"
Because those items didn't exist, the team at Ateyo decided to make them. They observed and interviewed pro gamers and streamers about their habits, and it quickly emerged that any hoodie had to allow for wrist support and movement, but also ideal temperature control.
At $88, the Zip-Up is definitely a costly investment for a hoodie, but at the same time, you're paying for a prestige product. For PC gamers in particular who already spend top dollar on their computer rigs and peripherals, having the best clothing available is worth it.
So what can the Ateyo Zip-Up do for you?
The first time I wore my Ateyo Zip-Up, it was 63 degrees and sunny in New York City, the awkward kind of temperature where you could easily be too hot or too cold depending on your wardrobe choices. I remember all this vividly because I had to walk 3.4 miles to my doctor’s office for a routine test. Normally, I’d consider running that distance and then running back, but I couldn’t eat for six hours beforehand.
"You don't want to be noticing your clothes."
I'm one of those people that always runs warm. In peak summer, I'm always drenched in sweat and look like I'm about to pass out on the NYC subway. I overheat easily, so I almost never wear layers; It's why I don't own any pullover hoodies at all. Falling between sizes doesn't help. Large hoodies look baggy and terrible on me. Medium hoodies are always too tight on my shoulders. Because I'm often warm anyway, a hoodie is something I'll rarely consider.
The Ateyo Zip-Up sincerely feels like the perfect in-between in terms of fit, and the way it regulated my temperature on my walk was downright impressive.
One of the main things that you notice when you first put an Ateyo Zip-Up on is that the forearm sleeves are snug, far tighter than your average hoodie. But there are no seams underneath, so you can still move that mouse, keyboard, or controller without the fabric catching on anything in between. That slight bit of compression also helps to keep your forearm in place. There's minimal tension in the shoulder because there's a similar degree of compression, with flexible material that allows for more movement and stretch.
"You don't want to be noticing your clothes," Harrison-Pollock says at one point, which made me think of how my huge head barely fits in medium-sized hoodies, and they always hurt my shoulders. It's a certain kind of mild discomfort that I always notice. The Ateyo Zip-Up offers a kind of comfort I never thought was possible from a hoodie — even when I had to walk seven miles in it.
Like a pair of expensive jeans that actually fit, once you forget about the snug feeling of an Ateyo Zip-Up, you learn to appreciate the look and feel as a cut above the usual hoodie.
The ultra-soft fabric on the inside also feels totally different from the anti-microbial and sleek outer layer. There's also sweat-wicking fabric incorporated under the arm and around the wrist, so it feels rather breathable as your body gets hotter or colder. Overall, it's a 50/50 cotton-polyester blend, which is a common ratio in clothing, but how the exact threads are placed make for something totally different.
One of the most glaring differences is the extra-wide hood that can accommodate even the bulkiest of headsets. Every little detail like this stacks to make the overall hoodie totally worthwhile for gamers, but even as a piece of loungewear or an exercise hoodie, the Zip-Up is worth the investment.
If you care about the quality of your headset, or your controller, or your gaming chair, then why wouldn't you care about your sweatshirt?
The Ateyo Zip-Up is available now for $88.