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A Brief History

How an essential piece of the modern wardrobe came to be

By: JEREMY FREEDDate: 2020-03-30
From its humble beginnings in Medieval Europe to its current status in the fashion world, the hooded sweatshirt has prevailed. Why do millions of men wear hoodies as part of their casual rotation? No doubt because the ubiquitous hoodie remains accessible at various price points, while continually evolving with innovative fabrics and elaborate prints.

The first hooded sweatshirt

Tailors recognized the importance of hooded outerwear since medieval times, but it was Champion sportswear (formerly the Knickerbocker Knitting Company) that modernized the hooded sweatshirt in the 1930s. Champion pioneered a new “reverse-weave” cotton that was thick, cozy and shrink-proof. With collegiate athletics and Ivy League style booming in that era, the hoodie met a demand for casual sportswear that could be worn on or off the field.

From Ali to Rocky Balboa

Originally called “side-line sweatshirts,” these new hooded sweatshirts fit right into the sports industry. By the 1960s, legends like Muhammed Ali were often photographed wearing hoodies in training. This celebrity appeal persisted through the next decade thanks to icons like Joe Namath – and even Rocky Balboa.

Sportswear to Streetwear

By the ‘80s and ‘90s, hip-hop and skater-style began to influence mainstream fashion – and hoodies came along for the ride. They were adopted by subcultures from Californian skaters to the rebellious graffiti artists of New York. More recently in the late 2010s, Champion collabed with premium brands Vetements, Supreme and Off-White, cementing its identity as the originator of the hoodie. Nearly a century later, this staple shows no sign of slowing down.