Athleisure. Athletic leisure. A monster of a word, but like it or not, it is the hottest fashion trend at the moment. It is shining brightly on a fashion horizon, and I say-no wonder! Everyone is crazy about them yoga pants, and mesh tank tops, and spotless track shoes that never had a run on the treadmill, but there’s one garment that fit into the athleisure trend quite well while staying perfectly timeless. An easy “go-to” item for every fashion buyer. It is a good old sweatshirt.
First, here's a little history: In 1926, a young a football player at the University of Alabama named Benjamin Russell Jr. came up with the idea of a comfortable cotton practice football jumper replacing their itchy wool sports jersey. His father Benjamin Russell Sr. was the owner of the garment factory and thought that the proposal was neat. Together they launched a new company, Russell Athletic Co., and started the production. People loved this new thing, the sweatshirt they called it. No wonder! It was durable, cool-looking, and less pretentious than woollen knitwear. Within a few years, it had become a synonym of comfort and leisurely style.
Nowadays the world is filled with countless sweatshirt options, and sometimes it’s hard to know whether you’re picking the right one. So, if you are a retailer that aims to build a perfect apparel selection for your customers, here are a couple of guidelines for you.
STICK WITH A CLASSIC
Of course, different variations of this staple piece were invented over the years. All those styles with hoods, zippers, and whatnot. But the original crew neck is something that is considered a timeless classic.
THERE'S ONLY ONE COLOUR TO CHOOSE FROM
Paraphrasing the words of Henry Ford, you can pick any colour that you want so long as it is grey. Okay, it may not be as dramatic as it sounds. It's just that grey is very versatile and easy to combine with other colours and different shoe styles, whether they're white sneakers, brown desert boots, or black army boots.
PICK "LOOPBACK" AND NEVER LOOK BACK
Loopback is a particular type of weave in which the face of the fabric is smooth and closely-knitted when the underside has all those loops that aim to absorb sweat and keep you dry and cooling down body temperature.
V-STITCH AS A TRADEMARK
You probably noticed that some of the sweatshirt styles feature this little triangle right below the collar. This detail was featured on a sweatshirt since the very beginning. Originally it was made out of different type of fabric – usually, a ribbed cotton jersey also used for waistbands and cuffs. Designed to allow the material to absorb the sweat in a more effective manner. Nowadays, more often than not you’d see just an overlock stitching below the collar band. It is more about style rather than practical purpose.
To summarise, the sweatshirt is a true essential in any wardrobe and a perfect example of the athleisure trend. This is the item you would want to wear to the gym pairing it with shorts or track pants or you could mix it together with your raw denim jeans and a pair of chunky boots for a walk in the park. You could even rock it with a tailored soft-shouldered blazer, tapered chinos, and good loafers.
And yes, you can even do yoga in it.
By Vlad Tichen, Personal Stylist and Fashion Adviser