A short history of the sweatshirt

Despite being a must-have item in your wardrobe today, the sweatshirt hasn’t been around all that long. Let’s take a look at its history.

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The sweatshirt originated in Alabama, US in 1926. American football player Benjamin Russell Junior grew tired of the itchy wool jerseys worn by his team; what’s more, the wool shrunk when it was washed.

Benjamin’s father ran an underwear factory, so Benjamin decided to try using the same material for his new sports top as his father used in underwear – cotton. Amongst its many qualities, cotton is breathable and lightweight. Benjamin went on to open Russell Athletic Mills to mass-produce his new sweatshirts, which went on to become Russell Athletic Co.

Where does the name ‘sweatshirt’ come from?

The name ‘sweatshirt’ originates from remarks made by factory workers after it had been worn in games. The players had obviously participated enthusiastically, as it had become rather sweaty! Despite this, players found the sweatshirt to be highly breathable and comfortable, and the idea soon caught on across sports and beyond. It also did its job of capturing sweat.

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How did sweatshirts develop?

Sweatshirts grew exponentially in popularity through the 1900s, starting with sports teams and growing to become part of everyday apparel. By the 1960s, US students were wearing them adorned with their university’s logo.

Logos on sweatshirts became more popular, with Abercrombie & Fitch using this design to create sweatshirts for people from all walks of life. The sweatshirt was even adapted for use by surfers, as it was the ideal garment to wear to stay warm after being in the ocean. Skateboarders then added a touch of edgy hip-hop to the designs through the 1990s.

Where are they found today?

Sweatshirts are found everywhere! They are the perfect winter warmer to this day, being longer-lasting and more practical than jumpers. Their high level of breathability is ideal for day-to-day life. Sweatshirts can be bought in a range of places, including high street stores and online stockists of mens Barbour sweatshirts such as EJ Menswear.

Sweatshirts are the ideal garment for everyday wear to this day, having transcended from their sporting origin to a range of influential styles.


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