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The Sweatsuit: from sportswear to fashion

/ Words: Sophie Matthijssen

/ Category: History

/ Published: February 2023

The history of The Sweatsuit

The sweatsuit: the perfect outfit to spend a lovely Sunday on the couch, but which you can also wear during a lunch date with friends. Because comfort plays a major role in the current fashion image, the sweatsuit can no longer be ignored as a classic. But where and how did the sweatsuit ever originate? In this blog we tell you more about the history of the sweatsuit.

Benjamin Russel - History of the Sweatshirt

1926: The Sweatshirt is born

The very first sweatshirt was designed in 1926 by Benjamin Russel Jr. He was a successful American Football player from Kentucky for the Crimson Tide team. Benjamin was tired of itchy wool sportswear and wanted something more comfortable. His father Russell Sr., who had been developing women’s underwear since 1902, brought his son’s idea into production. Father and son used the same thick cotton as that used for the underwear they were already developing. Benjamin’s iconic sweatshirt has a crew neck with a small v-notch around the collar. This thickened notch is one of the signature details of sweatshirts and is intended to absorb sweat and control stretching of the collar after years of wear. Due to the thickness of the fabric, it is of course extra resistant to a blow from a hefty American Football opponent. The sweatshirts that the Russel family developed became a success, in 1930 Russel Athletic Mills was founded to only produce sweatshirts.

History - Hoodie

The Hoodie: from religion to sport

Hoodies have been popular for centuries as protection against the elements. They called the traditional robe of the medieval monk ‘capa’, a hooded robe that protected against the cold. Medieval peasants wore capes with hoods called “chapons” against the impetuous weather. But they had their dark sides. Death traditionally wears a hood in Western art, and executioners and criminals alike wore hoods to hide their identities. This negative impression of hoodies has long influenced how people perceive hoodies.


Where the Russell family were the first to develop the sweatshirt, the credit for adding the hoodie as we know it now goes to the American company Champion. Simon Feinbloom, and his sons William and Abraham, founders of the Knickerbocker Knitting Company in 1919 developed primarily wholesale clothing. In the 1930s they changed their name to Champion Knitting Mills Inc. and designed them as the first hooded sweatshirt for warehouse workers in New York State.

60’s and 70’s: The Hoodie becomes standard

In the 1960s, Champion first partnered with US National Collegiate Athletic and became the official supplier to the National Football League. To distinguish themselves, American high-schools began to decorate their hoodies and American football teams sold their hoodies as merchandise. With this, the hoodie was integrated step by step into everyday life.


In 1976, The Hoodie premiered on the screen. Boxer Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, breaks all movie records. His outfit? A gray hoodie as he runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The hoodie has arrived. Although. Until the 1990s it would still be called a hooded sweatshirt, it was not until the 1990s that the term hoodie became more common.

Rocky Bilboa
The Sweatpant - Olympic Games - 1936

The Sweatpant: fast and comfortable

The first sweatpants appeared in 1920 and were released by the founder of the French Le Coq Sportif, Émile Camuset. He saw them as much-needed sportswear for athletes of the time. Until then, people sported in woolen, tight-fitting trousers, which had dominated men’s fashion since the French Revolution. The sweatpant could provide the athletes with more comfort, warmth and stretch so that they could also perform better. During the Olympic Games in 1936 you saw the sweatpant on almost all athletes.


Hip Hop Culture and logomania in the 80s

In 1970, the popularity of the sweatsuit rose rapidly. Not because there were more sports, but because the hip-hop culture was created. Rap music, graffiti and breakdance took over America. In a sweatsuit with a hoodie you had room to move for breakdancing and your face remained covered so that your identity was partially hidden. Fashion gradually became more casual and genres started to flow into each other. This especially took off during logomania: a period in the 1980s and 1990s when major designers conquered the commercial market by marketing sweatshirts and hoodies with only their logo large on the garment. From Calvin Klein to Tommy Hilfiger, the affordable version of designer clothing has been a huge success.

Teym - Full Collection - Women

Sustainable Sweatshirt, Hoodie and Sweatpant

The sweatsuit is an indispensable part of everyone’s wardrobe. Teym has therefore made a Sweatsuit that is timeless in both quality and design and has the longest possible lifespan. The Sweatsuit is made of specially developed French terry (100% GOTS certified organic cotton) and is made in our factory in Esposende, where they produce the perfect sweatsuit with their extensive knowledge.

The Sweatsuit

Are you interested in The Sweatsuit? View the productpage for women or men.