In case you’ve been sleeping on Russell Athletic, take this moment to get better acquainted with the brand you’re about to see in heavy rotation this spring.

Earlier this month, the brand teamed up with KITH on a 96-piece collaboration collection, much of which sold out in a matter of hours. Pieces include hoodies, crewnecks, T-shirts, and shorts in a wide range of colors – pieces that speak to Russell Athletic’s heritage as OGs in American sportswear.

And when we say OGs, we’re talking about a brand that dates back to 1902. It was founded by Benjamin Russell who began making cotton garments for the residents of his town after the city was destroyed by a fire. Later, his son inspired him to make sportswear for his university’s football team, and that eventually lead to the invention of the crewneck. Both professional athletes and street style enthusiasts have been rocking it for decades. So much so that Russell Athletic merch is a hot commodity in thrift stores – wearing a vintage Russell Athletic crewneck is a serious flex.

To dig deeper into the brand, we sent Highsnobiety’s very own Jeff Carvalho to hunt down vintage Russell Athletic finds. Peep this episode of Hidden Heat (above) where Carvalho kicks things off at Mr. Throwback in New York City to check out its selection of jerseys and crewneck sweatshirts, and to learn how to confirm authenticity of a vintage Russell Athletic piece. Next, Carvalho heads to Alexander City, Alabama, the factory town where Russell pieces were originally made. And to fully nerd out, we also traveled to Russell Athletic’s headquarters in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to speak with its archivist who showed us some of the earliest pieces ever made.

Taking a look at all of our vintage finds, it’s clear one thing that hasn’t changed: the crewnecks are as soft and comfortable as they’ve always been. That’s because of the premium ring-spun fabrics it uses, a mix of cotton and its secret sauce, which is also used in its 2019 Heritage collection.

Hit play on the video above to get a closer look at our deep dive into Russell Athletic.

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