Borrowed from http://xshirtsx.blogspot.com
Champion apparel (even including locally, in early 1991, suede mid-cut footwear) is something I could eulogise about for a long, long time. Before you make the assumption from this and previous blog post, that I’m stuck in the past, honestly, I’m not. Not too much anyway. I’m not firing screwfaces at everything that’s released in terms of shoes, music and apparel either, but we are living in an age of mediocrity, elevating the mundane and poorly executed way beyond its deserved position.
In this climate I can’t fathom why a decent plain sweatshirt that isn’t some three figure sum, side- seam free loopwheeled affair isn’t readily available any more. And while we stand on the cusp of deifying anything that’s manufactured locally regardless of the output actually being any good, well-fitting or relevant to your wardrobe – I’m sick of onetime alley-cat-coat-wearin’ Hush-Puppy-shoe-wearin’ crumb cakes (word to Oran’ Juice Jones) telling me about handmade moccasins – but I know for certain that before Mexican assembly (in the very, very early ’90s) came about, my USA-made reverse weave crews were a slightly superior product.
My memories aren’t so washed-out scarlet tinted that I’m going to pretend they ever fitted properly (I missed a more conventional fit by a couple of decades) – they were made with high school jocks in mind, hence the often unflattering, boxy ‘athletic fit’. But the current crop, with their vast chasm of a neckline that almost rests off the shoulders and puffy super-oversized look makes the previous incarnations look fitted by comparison. I was raised on 10% acrylic and 90% cotton and the current blend is 82% cotton/18% polyester fleece mix. Any I’ve owned from the early 70′s onwards (100% cotton seemed to go out circa 1970) were odd mixes of cotton/viscose/acrylic that seemed to change in their material makeup from sweatshirt to sweatshirt, and seemingly dependant on certain colours. Strange.
Coverstitched seams seemed to go, ribbed side gussets appeared along the way, the embroidered ‘C’ on the sleeve disappeared then reappeared, with a glued label version regularly dropping off, waistband and cuff widths shrank. Speaking of width, while its intent was to counteract vertical shrinkage, reverse weave sweats still seemed to shrink upwards over time and the width still remained at certain points on the garment making them downright odd looking. In the Far East, and letting this post do the venting for me with regards to demanding why great quality reproductions of design classics at their very best remain far, far away, for a price, it’s possible to get a China-made old style repro as well as a premium made in the USA replica of an older superior cut.
For all these flaws, and with Lee Cross Grains and Russell Athetic delivering similar raglan sweat longevity back in the day, why Champion? Because it was the hip-hop and hardcore apparel of choice. Which was the purpose of this post (I’ll try to explore sweatshirts in greater depth in the near future), because it was these subcultures that sold sweats to me. Often hoodies rather than crews, the relevance of Champion to NYHC is touched in ‘Radio Silence’, a book you should have already digested, where Release’s Chris Zusi recalls, “In the summer of 1989, Release played a show in Buffalo, New York with Zero Tolerance and we ended up at a Champion clothing outlet. As much as Nike was the symbol of clean-cut straight edge bands of the late ’80s, I think Champion was even more of a must-have brand. A bunch of us ended up buying these Champion windbreakers.”
It’s still interesting to see an older GDEH UK or Electric Cottage tee on an oversized Champion blank, or a brand like DQM utilising vintage windbreakers too, proving the nostalgia remains within the industry. Supreme’s early sweats were on reverse weaves, Agnes B have worked with the format, and No Mass’s overlooked ‘Former Champions’ customizations deserved more shine too. Currently, Jada and NORE (whose allstar ‘Rotate’ gangbang is called the ‘Champion Hoodie Remix’) are repping hard for the Super Hood.
Champion could do something glorious locally with their cultural legacy, but instead seem to be offering an iD-esque patterned ‘Hoodie Remix’ competition and sponsoring wacky competitions encouraging participants to wear 8 sweats at once.
On the hardcore subject, it’s good to see http://xshirtsx.blogspot.com, bar clangers like Dog Eat Dog tee, still uploading some interesting designs (often jacked by lazy designers). A superb blog that despite the German language barrier, is worth spending an hour or so browsing. Go check this piece on the relevance of the varsity jacket to hardcore too.
All borrowed from http://xshirtsx.blogspot.com