Cult brand: Champion
By Ross Wilson, 16 August 2016
Rapidly becoming the understated leisurewear brand of choice for fashion connoisseurs from Tokyo to London, Champion has a long history of sports-inspired style adding up to almost 100 years in the game.
Brothers Abe and Bill Feinbloom formed the ‘Knickerbocker Knitting Company’ in Rochester, New York, back in 1919, before switching to the slightly snappier ‘Champion Knitting Mills’ moniker in the 30s. By this time, the brothers had gained a reputation for producing high-quality sweatshirts, tees and sports socks that were quickly becoming staples for American college athletes.
Always innovating in the sports-style game, Champion went on to trail-blaze through the athletic world by producing the first cotton football jersey, mesh practice shorts and a reverse-weave sweatshirt, which was picked up by Japanese streetwear heads as a must-have cult item over 60 years later.
Champion’s biggest contribution to the fashion world must surely be when they 'invented' the hoodie back in the 30s. Seeing the need to keep outdoor workers warm in the harsh New York winter, Champion created the iconic hooded sweatshirt that went on to be a wardrobe staple for athletes, rappers, skateboarders and off-duty celebrities worldwide.
Once Champion was chosen as the official outfitter of the Olympic gold-medal-conquering ‘Dream Team’ (a who’s who of NBA legends, including Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan), it became firmly established as an era-defining brand and the go-to label for high-quality leisurewear in the 90s.
Two decades on – thanks to celeb fans like Kendrick, Yeezy, Drizzy and Ri-Ri, and high-profile collaborations with brands such as Supreme, BAPE and Undefeated – Champion are back on top, delivering consistently strong collections that riff on their iconic logo and signature shapes.
Whether flexing at the club or simply lounging around in front of the telly, few things will leave you looking so effortlessly casual and composed as a classic sweatshirt or joggers from Champion.