The signature red, white, and blue “C” is a symbol of quality and authenticity. It’s the symbol of Champion—a clothing company with more than 100 years of history.
The Champion brand’s captivating past reveals a story of innovation, quality, and reliability. The brand’s innovations (such as the hoodie!) have become so mainstream, hardly anyone questions their origins.
Over the last century, Champion experienced its heyday and downfall, but as the saying goes—it’s a marathon, not a sprint. In the last decade, Champion made an unexpected comeback, stepping into the spotlight once again.
From Gen Z latching onto the retro trend to millennials relishing ’90s nostalgia—Champion is all the rage right now and doesn’t seem likely to slow down. As they describe it on their website: “There can be many contenders, but only one Champion.”
A brief history of the Champion brand
The company was established in 1919, in Rochester, New York, by Simon Feinbloom and his sons William and Abraham. Back then, the company was called the Knickerbocker Knitting Company. In 2019, Champion celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Champion was created as a wholesale clothing company, yet the Feinbloom brothers soon noticed the lack of high-quality clothing for athletes and focused on manufacturing comfy and durable sportswear. The sweatshirt, first introduced as a wool undergarment for outdoor workers, soon assumed the role of keeping athletes warm during exercise.
The Champion logo was designed only in the ’50s. At first, the logo was on the neck label and featured a running man crossing the finish line, but the brand gradually changed it to the iconic “C” placed on the left sleeve. However, the signature red, white, and blue colors stayed the same.
The brand’s most famous invention—the hoodie—was born in the early ’30s. By adding hoods to sweatshirts for extra protection against the cold, Champion had unwittingly invented what was to become one of the most popular garments of our time.
The hoodie quickly went from sportswear item to streetwear hero—by the ’80s, it was embraced by athletes, performers, and artists alike. Even now, the versatile hoodie hasn’t lost its appeal. It’s the go-to item for both sports and leisure, and with the right design, it can become a luxury garment admired on the runway.
By the early 2000s, people had pushed Champion back to the discount section at Walmart. Thanks to the glorious revival of the ’90s in the past years, Champion is back in style and in business. The brand is now considered retro, and Champion’s signature sweats and hoodies are in sync with the athleisure fashion trend.
Over the last decade, Champion has collaborated with various designers and brands, creating premium streetwear collections with unique brand-specific twists. Supreme created all-over print designs, Vetements added their signature droopy sleeves, and Weekday turned the classic sweatshirt into a crop, and now we at Cruising Aviation are proud to make these iconic fashion pieces our own by adding our stylish, self-made, designs.
As Champion brand ambassador Manny Martinez told Esquire in 2017, the brand can stand on its own now. Yet it seems that now collaborations are part of Champion’s brand identity, as Champion continues working with various artists and fashion brands, including Cruising Aviation!