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FEATURE

CULT ITEM: LOGO SWEATSHIRT

By Sarah Kershaw, 1 December 2016

The long-standing love affair between fashion and function doesn’t come in a much neater package than the logo sweatshirt. From athletic origins to streetwear staple, wearing your heart on your sleeve (or, in fact, your chest) has never been easier or more stylish. Here’s the story of a cult piece of streetwear history.

Cult Item: Logo Sweatshirt

Picture: Corbis

Collegiate pride

The humble sweatshirt started life in the 20s, a thick, fleecy, cotton pullover, usually in grey, that athletes wore in training to keep warm and, yes, soak up sweat. In the 60s, however, American universities cottoned on (sorry) to the fact that their varsity training gear could be used to shout their school pride loud and clear from their chests. The US schools’ signature capital-lettered logos (like Fetty Wap’s Winsconsin version) made their way over to the UK and into Gap stores (remember that craze?) and now your auntie can’t go to London without buying you a sweat emblazoned with the city’s name from a street-corner stall. 

Cult Item: Logo Sweatshirt

Picture: Rex

90s cult classics

Come the 90s, the simultaneous rise of hip-hop and a cultural preoccupation with skate and sportswear meant the logo sweat was pretty much a mandatory piece in every well-dressed man’s wardrobe. Brands like Champion (who were dressing the NBA and NFL’s top teams at the time), Ellesse and Fila brought a sporty edge to street-based wardrobes (caps and baggy jeans were the ideal accompaniments) while Calvin Klein’s iconic sweats were a more fashion-focused choice. In the last couple of years, with the 90s redux in full flow, you’ve probably copped a fair few original or rebooted versions yourself. 

Cult Item: Logo Sweatshirt

Picture: Xposure

Believe the hype

The cult-mainstream-cult cycle has come all the way back around again recently, meaning there’s still space for hype streetwear brands to carve a niche in the logomania trend. Supreme’s box-logo range is perhaps celeb-land’s favourite example of this, with Travis Scott being a particular fanboy of the New York skate brand, but StussyThrasher, Palace and other sidewalk-surfing labels have all had a bite of the cherry, too.

Cult Item: Logo Sweatshirt

Picture: Photoshot

Sweats on tour

Band merch has always been a low-key cool way to advertise what you were into, but 2016 has taken it up a notch, with artists capitalising on the opportunity to brand their fans – cue waiting lists, huge queues outside pop-ups and eye-popping graphics. Now, wearing a piece of Pablo gear or Drake’s ‘revenge’ merch signals more than fandom – it’s a sign you’re aware of the sartorial street culture that goes along with the trend.

Cult Item: Logo Sweatshirt

Picture: Xposure

Novelty and retro

It’s not all about tasteful insignias, though. With the re-emergence of logomania in recent years comes an inevitable backlash, with some men rejecting of-the-moment labels for a more retro take on the trend. Enter Shia LaBeouf and his ‘Canterbury Avenue School’ sweat – the anything-but-cool nature of the vintage logo actually lending an authentic credibility to the whole look. Similarly, go into any Brooklyn vintage den and you’ll see scores of people combing the racks for old Scout uniforms, summer camp sweats or obscure clothing brands. The logo sweat has come full circle.

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