We own and wear them, but do you really know the history of your sweatshirts?

We will explain how this comfy, fashionable sweatshirt of yours was invented and how it came to be so popular around the world!

Versatile enough to be worn any time of year, the classic crew neck sweatshirt is one of those rare clothing items that has become a crucial piece of everyone’s wardrobe. Though it’s regularly updated and reinvented, crew neck sweatshirt will never go out of style.

The original sweatshirt was invented by Benjamin Russell Jr., a football player in 1926. It began with the new idea for an all-cotton practice football jersey. Football jerseys at that time were made of wool and were extremely uncomfortable. Always one to take the lead, Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Benjamin Russell, Jr. decided to do something about it in 1926. He set out to put an end to the constant chafing and itching caused by woolen uniforms, changing the face of fashion forever.

It’s true that sweatshirts are great at keeping wearers warm, but as they were typically cotton practice jerseys back in the day, the ‘sweat’ part of the word comes from their origins on the field. So, what is a sweatshirt used for today? Sweatshirts are still used for their original purpose as comfortable athletic wear, but they are also worn for staying warm in cooler temps, repping a collegiate team, or layering to form a fashionable outfit.

In the 1930s American clothing manufactures began experimenting with fabrics traditionally used in undergarment mills to create what we now know as the hoodie. The apparel company now known as Champion Athletic Apparel produced a sweat shirt material to keep athletes and laborers warm and protected from the elements. The design evolved into sportswear for the mass market over the course of the 20th century. The hoodie made a transition from practical clothing to a personal statement when athletes started to give their sports attire to their girlfriends to wear. This trend proliferated throughout high schools in 50’s America and initiated the early adoption of using sportswear as a fashion statement.

From humble beginnings as athletic wear, the sweatshirt has achieved mass-market domination, propelled by the birth of logomania in the 1980s. Designers wishing to cash in on branding, utilized the sweatshirt to do so. From Vivienne Westwood's "Anglomania" sailor sweatshirts to Calvin Klein's ubiquitous "CK" example, sweatshirts with designer logos became the affordable version of designer wear for the masses.

The sweatshirt's commercial success is a direct result of its connotations of comfort, sportiness, and practicality. In the early 1980s, designer Norma Kamali sought to create a collection for the working woman that epitomized those aforementioned ideals. Her answer was the well-received Spring-Summer 1980 "Sweatshirt Collection" in which Kamali designed an entire wardrobe from sweatshirt fabric.

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