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The Sweater Story

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

To coincide with the new Benjamin Sweatshirt Range, we take a look at the history of the great American classic, 'The Sweatshirt'.

The true beauty in wearing certain garments is to understand the history of where it came from. That’s how we feel anyway. Where an appreciation for a piece of clothing's evolution and capacity to change face, meets with the potential to become timeless.

The history of the sweatshirt

We all love and wear sweatshirts. They are a key piece to any wardrobe in today’s society and as we have seen, designer labels, highstreet brands and street-store start-ups all have their own versions. The sweatshirt is here to stay.

So where did it all begin?

In 1926, US footballer Benjamin Russell Jnr had an idea for an all-cotton practice jersey, one that could replace the itchy and uncomfortable wool options which also caused chafing. Fortunately, his father, Russell Sr owned a clothing company and was able to make his son’s side-line hobby become a reality. From here, Russell Athletic was born and started making the now iconic crew-neck sweatshirt from 1930.

Historical Sweat shirt image

The name ’sweatshirt’ derives from its sporting inspiration. Obviously great for keeping wearers warm, they were created initially as cotton practice jerseys, taking the ’sweat’ element of its name from on-the-field origins. Today, the sweatshirt is still used for its original purpose, but reimagined for a more style-focussed presentation, to be utilised in layering stylistically or simply as an extra layer to keep warm in cooler temperatures.

In essence, the sweatshirt has become a versatile fashion piece, ready for each wearer to make their own statement.

Old images of the sweatshirt

Rocky wearing a sweatshirt

Those iconic plain sweats seen on the likes of Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen in The Great Escape and Stallone in Rocky eventually became seen as blank canvasses and similar to the T-shirt, the sweatshirt became a platform for branding and statements to be printed and embroidered onto. By the end of the 20th century, it had transformed into the fashion garment by the various design fashion houses, and this continues today. Everyone from Balmain, Luis Vuitton and Gucci through to Palace, Champion and Nike promote sweatshirts.

It is with this history in mind that Stanley Biggs sweatshirts have been developed and created in an understated style which harks back to the era that made the sweatshirt world famous. With an appreciation for the finer things in life and the aesthetic of perhaps a more distinguished style presentation, the original pieces that started the ball rolling yesteryear are often the ones that we find pull us in the most, the sweatshirt is no different.

The vintage style of sweatshirt

So, from Ali training on the streets of London in his army boots and original sweats, from McQueen circling the barbed-wire fence on his motorbike ready to make a breakthrough, to Gene Kelly effortlessly dancing his way through his films, these are the images we conjure in preparation for our own take on a classic.

What's Next?

The T-Shirt ; Fashion Rebel.

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1 Comment

Mar 13, 2023

Great story and history of a true classic.

Love your brand too.

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