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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 ideal outfit to relax in on the couch, but which you can also wear during a lunch date with friends. Because of the major role comfort plays in our current fashion image, the sweatsuit has become an indispensable classic. But where and how did the sweatsuit ever originate? In this blog we will tell you more about the history of the sweatsuit.

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Casual wear throughout the years

Before the 20th century, a form of casual wear was a mens suit that consisted of trousers and a jacket. This was very casual in addition to the three-piece dress suit that was mainly worn at the time. Can you imagine chilling in a jacket? We neither. Fortunately, at the beginning of the 20th century, more clothes that could be moved easily came onto the market. This had everything to do with the practice of sports that became more and more common. After the free Saturday was introduced in the 1960s, the popularity of the sweatsuit increased.

1926 the birth year of the sweatshirt

The very first sweatshirt was designed by Benjamin Russel Jr., a Kentucky football player in 1926. He was tired of itchy wool jerseys and wanted something more comfortable. His father Russel Sr., who owned a clothing manufacturing company, turned his idea into reality. The iconic sweatshirt has a crewneck with a small v-notch around the collar. This thick piece of cotton is the signature detail for a sweatshirt to wick away sweat and control collar stretching after years of wear. Russel Athletic Mills was founded in 1930 to only produce sweatshirts and has grown into a multinational.

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The hoodie: from monk clothing to sportswear

The hoodie followed shortly after the sweatshirt. The design remains the same, only a hood has been added. But the very first hoodies are much older, dating back to the Middle Ages, when monks wore them. They wore robes with long hoods that offered protection against the cold. This was the standard uniform in monasteries and was called ‘capa’. This was common in Normandy and probably came with the Norman conquest of England. The word ‘hood’ comes from the word ‘höd’ which means ‘hat’ or ‘headgear’.


The American company Champion made the first hooded sweatshirt, as we know the hoodie today, in 1930. Initially, hoods were added to sweatshirts to keep workers warm during the cold New York winters. After this, they also became popular with athletes.

The origin of the sweatpants

The first sweatpants appeared in 1920 and were released by the French Le Coq Sportif. Sweatpants as we still know them today; gray jersey pants. These comfortable pants were designed by Émile Camuset, the founder of Le Coq Sportif. Specific for athletes; the pants offer warmth and stretch for movement. During the Olympic Games in 1930 you saw the sweatpants on almost all athletes.

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Hip Hop Culture and logomania in the 80s

In 1970 the popularity of the sweatsuit increased quickly. Hip-hop culture came into being; rap music, graffiti and breakdance took over The Bronx. In a jogging suit and hoodie, you had room to move and your face remained covered, thus concealing your identity. In addition, in 1976 the sweatsuit was shown in the extremely popular film ‘Rocky’, which caused extra attention. A few years later, ‘logomania’ arose; major designers conquered the commercial market by releasing sweatshirts and hoodies with only their logo printed on the garment. From Calvin Klein to Vivienne Westwood, the affordable version of designer clothing has been a huge success. Universities were ahead of the designers, printing their school logo on hoodies and sweatshirts from the 1960s. Ultimately, students contributed a lot to the popularity of the sweatsuit. Because of them, it went from sportswear to everyday wear.

Sustainable Sweatsuit

The sweatsuit has become 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 French terry specially developed for us (100% GOTS certified organic cotton) and is made in Esposende, where they use their extensive knowledge to produce the perfect sweatsuit. 

Discover the factory where we make our Sweatsuit here.

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