In honor of our Todd Snyder + Champion collaboration, we decided to take a look at the history of the company and examine some of their catalog covers from the past. Established in Rochester, New York in 1919, Brothers Abe and Bill Fainbloom founded “The Knickerbocker Knitting Company” which later became Champion. Focusing on producing a heavy-duty cotton, which they patented as Reverse-Weave, the Fainbloom brothers manufactured sweatshirts and later jerseys. Designed originally for athletes, an examination of Champion’s catalog covers shows the shift to causal wear that helped fuel the Ivy League look of the 60s.
The catalogs uncovered from 1953 and 1966 both feature artistic versions of athletes wearing Champion jerseys. The focus seems to be truly on performance as the ad from the following year points out.
However, in 1967 we see a quick departure from drawing athletes to featuring college students wearing Champion clothes off the athletic field. This cover seems to be in direct correlation with the Ivy League look that was becoming popular on college campus.
In 1968, Champion went back to an artist rendition of athletics, probably to show that performance and quality will always be first in foremost with the company. The small caption of “athletic wear and physical education uniforms” on the catalog says it all.
But you can see that the preppy style was in full swing by the 1970s which is heavily featured on this cover. Champion clothing was not only a company for athletics gear but a great way to show your school pride for all students: The Campus Look has arrived.