The Supreme Weekly is a regular column examining and breaking down the influences behind the brand’s weekly drops, courtesy of our resident Supreme expert, Ross Wilson.
Alongside the much-discussed Nike Humara sneakers and matching tracksuits, today Supreme releases an additional collaboration with another famous U.S. sportswear company – Champion.
The Supreme x Champion Arc Logo zip-up sweat and 5-panel hat are the latest items the New York skate brand has produced with the sportswear company that boasts a rich history in both athletic wear and pop culture.
Read the full story below.
The “Knickerbocker Knitting Company” was founded in 1919 by two brothers, Abe and Bill Feinbloom, in Rochester, New York. Over the following decade they built up a reputation for providing college athletes with high-quality sporting apparel, so subsequently changed the company name to “Champion Knitting Mills” in the 1930s.
Pushing forward, Champion went on to manufacture the first cotton football jersey, mesh shorts and reverse-weave sweatshirt. However, it was the creation of the first-ever hooded sweatshirt that cemented its long-lasting legacy in the fashion history books. Initially designed to keep outdoor workers warm throughout the New York winters, Champion created the now-iconic hoodie that would go on to become a casual wardrobe staple and a backbone of the streetwear industry.
In 1992, Champion won the bid for the official outfitter of the Olympic gold medal-conquering Dream Team (including NBA legends Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan), and rapidly became established as an era-defining leisurewear brand throughout the ’90s. The ubiquitous “C” logo can be seen on the sleeves of rappers, skateboarders, ball players, college students and joggers worldwide.
Over saturation may have seen the brand slowly diminish from the mainstream, but for those who appreciated the excellent quality of the garments, classic branding, sports heritage and relatively low pricing, this made Champion into an underground cult brand. In the early days as a single-door skate shop, Supreme would often embroider their logos onto Champion blanks as the low-cost sweats and hoods were favored by East Coast skateboarders.
It wasn’t until March 2010 that Supreme officially collaborated with Champion with the release of a dual-branded coaches jacket. The success of the partnership birthed an ongoing collection that included the large “C” chest branding and all-over prints that have since gone on to become a mainstay in Champion’s own line. With Supreme opening the doors to new partnership opportunities, Champion has gone on to work with the likes of UNDEFEATED, BAPE, Wood Wood and Vetements.
Combining ‘90s nostalgia and the current obsession with leisurewear, these high-profile collaborations have helped pushed Champion right back into the fashion consciousness. With the brand’s main collection of classic silhouettes widely available and limited-edition collections with the likes of Supreme continuing to sell out, it seems like Champion’s revival will certainly continue into its hundredth year and beyond.
For more Supreme, read up on why the New York brand’s recent collaboration is an homage to ’80s & ’90s rap, and then check out this exhaustive history on every brand Supreme has ever collaborated with.