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The history of the sweatshirt

When we talk about the sweatshirt we are also talking about comfort, sport, cosiness – everything we feel we need right now, today. What is its history in the world of fashion? We’ll give you a quick tour here.

The sweatshirt was born in the USA in the 1920s on the sports grounds of university campuses. Previously sports men had worn woollen sweaters when exercising in warmer weather. The cotton sweatshirt replaced these as it was better at absorbing perspiration, hence its name. It’s difficult to know to whom the design credit is owed as several brands have claimed to have made the first sweatshirt. One thing is certain, the ‘Champion’ brand first marketed their famous version of the hoodie (hooded sweatshirt) in 1934 using their created technique of ‘flocking’ to convey the first messages on clothes – the names of universities and sports clubs.

The original sweatshirts were made using circular looms or ‘loopwheels’. The body of the garment was therefore a single cylinder or tube or jersey without any side seams. In the 1950s, we say an evolution in sweatshirt design from the Russel Athletic brand which mixed polyester with cotton, improving its resistance and quality. They introduced the iconic heather gray colour to the world.

For some time, the sweatshirt was pigeonholed in its historic use, as sportswear of university sports clubs. In the 1980s though, the body worship culture began in earnest with the rise in popularity of aerobics. The sweatshirt was now out on the street, and it became the uniform for a healthy, physical lifestyle. From then the different styles multiplied – there were cropped sweats, batwing sleeves, kitsch prints, fluorescents. Over time, with emergence of hip-hop culture, we then saw the oversized versions.

It was overcooked, but in 2010s it made a comeback and is now the piece that everyone has in their cupboard. Iconic designs include printed Kenzo (the famous tiger head), oversized sweatshirts of Clothing and Balenciaga and the elegant version of Vuitton. It remains an edgy garment with social and political claim and is the wardrobe alternative to a knitted sweater.

Here at we offer you a selection so you can explore the range of styles of this staple garment.

Credits :

photo 6 : Yannis Viamos/Kenzo

photo 7 : Dior/Filippo Fior

photo 8 : Vêtements/Kim Weston Arnold