The Story of the Sweater

August 24 2016, 0 Comments

Canada and United States American football teams sporting cotton football sweaters, Whites Stadium, London 1944

Few items of sportswear fully transcend their roots on the tracks and fields of competitive sport, shed associations with the sports they were originally designed to be played in, and evolve to become something more. Garments that are stylistically iconic but still maintain the function and comfort you expect in sportswear are few and far between. Tracksuits never quite made it. Jogging-bottoms never will.

"Homely but not slobbish, so you can wear it where and when you want. "

The humble sweater, though, has. Truly timeless, it encompasses everything that’s needed in clothing. Design with a purpose, so you know it will last. Simple but not bland, so it works with your whole wardrobe. Homely but not slobbish, so you can wear it where and when you want. The sweater is the pinnacle of function-as-style perfectionism.

The Russel MFG Co., Alexander City, 1911

The story of the sweatshirt begins in 1920s America, in a ladies underwear factory in Alexander City, Alabama. The owner of the factory, Benjamin Russell, had been successfully producing cotton underwear since the turn of the century, but in 1926 his son, Benny, came to him with a suggestion to try something a little different.

Then a young man, Benny attended Alabama City University where he played American football for the university’s team. The football jerseys he practiced in were itchy, uncomfortable and, as they were made out of wool, prone to shrinking. Benny suggested that his dad’s factory would be perfect for making an alternative. By altering the pattern for the thick cotton ladies suit top undergarment that was already being produced, they could make a jersey for football players that was both considerably more comfortable and appropriately durable.

"A piece that can be worn up or down that you’ll be wearing for years and years..."

The new jerseys were a hit. By the 1930s every college jock in America was wearing them. By the 50s, with the birth of the teenager, the sweater was established as a mainstay of alternative fashion. Through the subsequent decades it found a home in skate and hip-hop subcultures, eventually becoming a mainstream garment with a deep and important history, securing its place as a man’s wardrobe essential.

In our design, we pay homage to the legend. Inspired by the original ideas behind it, we’ve produced something with comfort and long-lasting durability at its heart. A piece that can be worn up or down that you’ll be wearing for years and years.

Manufactured in Japan, our sweater uses 560gsm2 (grams per square metre) loopwheeled fleece back jersey for the perfect balance between comfort, breathability and resilience. We’ve included ribbed cuffs, sleeves and hems, as well as a ribbed v-shape on both the front and back - details included on original sweaters to catch sweat after exercise. 

On the sleeves we decided on a curved raglan stitch which provides an optimal fit for its wearers. We also chose a tubular knit construction for the body, which means there’s no side seams and makes for an overall more robust garment.

If you want to take a closer look at our Grey Marl 50s Sweater, head to the product page here, and find more information on shipping and sizing.

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