History of the sweatshirt: the best ally for your comfort


Sweatshirts are part of our everyday life in all its forms: hooded, hoodless, with or without a hood, with or without a zip and in thousands of colours. But… do you know what their history is?

At Smile Vintage we tell you!

Beginning of the sweatshirt

The sweatshirt is one of the most popular garments that has evolved the most and has hardly changed.

The history of the sweatshirt goes back to the end of the 19th century and it was born as a work garment. Those first sweatshirts were used by French vegetable and fruit sellers. They were used because of their great effectiveness in protecting against the cold. Moreover, the Spanish word ‘chándal’ (tracksuit) comes from the French abbreviation of ‘merchand d’ail‘, which means ‘garlic seller’.

The modern sweatshirt

But sweatshirts didn’t arrive in the sporting world until 1926, when Benjamin Russell, a clothing brand owner, created a cotton sports jersey. This was the closest thing to the sweatshirt we wear today.

It came about because Russell’s son played American football and, tired of the itchy jerseys, asked his father to design a more comfortable outfit for his team. Thus, the first sports sweatshirts were born, using materials that were used for women’s underwear.

From that moment on, sweatshirts became popular not only in the world of sports, but also in many other areas such as universities.

The first sweatshirts did not have a hood, and it was Champion brand that made the leap to add a hood in 1930. The function of the hood was to protect the heads of cold storage workers, forest rangers and sportsmen from the cold.

Over the years, the sweatshirt underwent many modifications.

The sweatshirt and its influence on vintage and current style

In 1960 the use of this garment was normalised among women, as its use spread among university students and sportsmen and their girlfriends, who began to “steal” this comfortable garment.

In 1970, the sweatshirt arrived in the hip hop culture and its use began to be related to criminality and other factors of marginal subcultures. Although most people began to wear them for comfort, graffiti artists wore them to cover up their identity and not be discovered when they painted wagons. In this way, the sweatshirt started to become a key piece of urban style.

On the other hand, Rocky Balboa’s character on the big screen was a great catapult for the hoodie.

In recent years, its presence in the fashion world has been massive and has reached the most exclusive catwalks. Influencers, celebrities and citizens can wear this garment at any time, whatever our style thanks to its great versatility.

Sweatshirts on trend

The sweatshirt is always in the limelight. Nowadays, we can find university sweatshirts everywhere, such as the Harvard sweatshirt or sports team sweatshirts to match the trendy caps. We also see them with pictures or artistic paintings and even messages.

Not to mention another risky trend: a sweatshirt with a checked or black blazer, mixing the most representative garment of the tracksuit with the most classic piece of tailoring.

In any case, fashion is there to be enjoyed and the sweatshirt is a great ally.

Basic, original, stylish, tight, baggy, with all kinds of fabrics and with messages or logos included… The sweatshirt arrived years ago to stay in our wardrobes and make our lives more comfortable and why not say it… more cool. 

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