Fashion

Introducing: Champion

Founded in Rochester, New York almost a century ago, Champion started out life crafting high-quality sweatshirts and sweatpants for University and College sports teams local to New York City. The brand’s reputation soon spread, and before long Champion was the go-to apparel sportswear manufacturer for sports teams across the US. The brand expanded its range while retaining its focus on premium quality sportswear, and Champion’s fame continued to grow as it was adopted by professional sports teams and the US Military Academy as their official uniform maker.

A Brief History of Champion Apparel

1919

The Feinbloom brothers establish the company that would become known as “Champion” in Rochester, New York, crafting sweatshirts and sweatpants for University and College sports team in New York City

1920s

Business expands across American Universities, beginning with Champion’s first partnership with the University of Michigan. The University had noticed that Champion was passionate about sports apparel and was impressed by the quality of its innovative new sweatpants and sweatshirts.

Champion’s reputation quickly started to spread as Coaches from Michigan spoke with coaches from other schools and colleges across the U.S. Champion becomes the go-to manufacturer of sports apparel across the US University sports scene.

1930s—1940s

Renamed as Champion Knitting Mills Inc, the brand expands its range to take on T-shirts, athletic socks and more. Champion also developed woollen underwear as a prototype for the sweatshirt, protecting outdoor workers against the cold and increasing its reputation for function, durable apparel. It is not long before Champion products are adopted by the US Military Academy to be used during training exercises and physical education classes.

1950s—1960s

The redesigned logo, the now iconic “C” mark, appears for the first time is affixed from then on to the left sleeve of the sweatshirt. This logo and positioning would become synonymous with Champion.

 1952

Champion’s now famous Reverse Weave technique is finalised and becomes the brand’s signature design process.

The Champion Reverse Weave— A History

Since it was first imagined in 1934, the Reverse Weave technique has been regarded as a pioneering method in manufacturing sports sweatshirts. The idea of the Reverse Weave came from the American coaches of the 1940s in order to be able to wash the uniforms of their athletes all together without the risk of damaging them. To avoid horizontal shrinkage, the fibre fleece is turned upright at the time of creation, hence the name Reverse Weave.

To avoid shrinkage instead in the opposite direction all Reverse Weave sweatshirts, are characterized by the two side panels on the sides. Even cuffs, neck and bottom of the sweatshirts Reverse Weave have the same characteristic of the inserts in order to avoid the dispersion of heat during and after training, keeping the freedom of movement.

During the 1960s Champion entered into an intensive licensing program, which started with the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and expanded in the 1970s with a partnership with the National Football League (NFL).

1970s—1980s

Champion becomes famous for creating one of the most important athletic garments of the 20th century: the Hooded Sweatshirt.

The hoodie was designed and developed for practical reasons and was first introduced as a warm up or “sideline” garment for athletes to wear between games or practice sessions.

Champion transcended what it meant to be an athletic brand by becoming the first Company to produce the Double Sided (or reversible) T-Shirt and the first to develop and manufacture a “Breathable” Nylon Mesh fabric, that would go on to become the staple fabric for basketball Uniforms across the Globe.

1990s—2000

Champion further strengthened its position at the forefront of American sport by acquiring the exclusive rights to be the official outfitter of all 27 teams of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the early ’90s. This was the golden age for the NBA, and this partnership established Champion as the authentic go-to brand for all authentic on-court and off-court merchandise for the NBA.

Today, many NBA enthusiasts and collectors still hone in on iconic Champion pieces from the ’90s, such was the importance and nostalgia of this era in basketball.

Champion was also the official outfitter for the first and arguably the best ever USA Dream Team at the historical Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The Dream Team went on to win the Gold Medal and this helped Champion establish their reputation as an Authentic, Athletic, Apparel brand in Europe.

2000—2012

To mark the 60th anniversary of the year when they first patented the Reverse Weave Sweatshirt, Champion relaunched this legendary product in Europe. This also coincided with the increase in demand from key opinion formers, early adopters and fashion savvy consumers who were being influenced by the music and streetwear culture of the 1990’s.

2015

The original, heavyweight and understated line of Sweatshirts, Tee Shirts, Sweatpants and Shorts, all bearing the iconic Champion “C” logo, were introduced to a new generation of consumers proving yet again that there can be many contenders, but only one Champion.



Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert