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Champion (sportswear)

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FormerlyKnickerbocker Knitting Co.
Champion Knitting Mills Inc.
Company typePrivate (1919–89)
Subsidiary (1989–present)
IndustryTextile, footwear
Founded1919; 105 years ago (1919)
FounderFeinbloom Brothers
FateAcquired by the Sara Lee Corporation in 1989, then other owners
Number of locations
38 stores (2021)[1]
Area served
ProductsClothing, footwear

Champion (also stylized as Champion U.S.A.) is a brand of clothing, specializing in sportswear owned and marketed by American apparel company Hanesbrands (based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina), which was spun off by the Sara Lee Corporation in 2006. The company was originally based in Rochester, New York, prior to its acquisition by Sara Lee in 1989.[2] Champion is Hanes' second-largest brand.

Products manufactured and commercialized by Champion include casual wear clothing (t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, leggings, shorts, jackets, undergarment), footwear (sandals, sneakers, socks), and accessories (bags, hats, collectibles).


The company was established in 1919 by the Feinbloom Brothers as "Knickerbocker Knitting Company."[3] The company soon signed an agreement with the Michigan Wolverines to produce uniforms for their teams. In the 1930s the company was renamed "Champion Knitting Mills Inc.", producing sweatshirts and hoodies. Soon after, Champion products were adopted by the US Military Academy to be used during training exercises and physical education classes.[4]

Champion was acquired by Sara Lee Corporation in 1989.[5] Champion produced uniforms for all the NBA teams during the 1990s and some NFL teams during the 1970s to the 1990s, for both on-field and retail purposes. It has also produced sportswear for many major colleges.[6] Champion was also the uniform manufacturer of the Olympic basketball team that competed at the 1992 Summer Olympics.[4]

From 2008, Champion produced kits for Premier League side, Wigan Athletic, the Wales national soccer team and the jersey of the Greek basketball team,[7] also Pallacanestro Cantù, in Italy.

Champion supplied the football uniforms for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In 2001 Notre Dame signed a five-year exclusive agreement with Adidas, which ended a partnership Champion had with the university that spanned over 50 years.[8]

In June 2024, Hanesbrands announced plans to sell the Champion brand to Authentic Brands for $1.2 billion.[9]



Past sponsorships[edit]

In the past, Champion manufactured uniforms mostly for basketball and American football teams, most notable its long-time partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) that extended until 2004, when Reebok took over.[11] Champion also sponsored International association FIBA until 2017.[12]

The following is a list of some of them:

American/Canadian football[edit]

1994 Buffalo Bills' Jim Kelly jersey made by Champion



Indiana Pacers' Jamaal Tinsley jersey by Champion, worn in 2001


Merchandising licenses[edit]

Replica jersey uniforms made by Champion in the licensed sports business:

  • Canada United States NBA – all teams (1990–2002)
  • United States NFL – all teams (1980s–2000)
  • United States XFL – all teams (2001)


  1. ^ "Champion stores in the United States". Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  2. ^ Key, Janet (February 14, 1989). "Sara Lee Adds Champion Sportswear To Wardrobe". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  3. ^ Wilson, Denis (April 3, 2012). "The History of the Hoodie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  4. ^ a b About us on Champion-eu website
  5. ^ Robb, Gregory A. (February 14, 1989). "Champion Products Accepts Bid". The New York Times.
  6. ^ JARochNY (October 21, 2010), Abraham and William Feinbloom, Champion Products, Inc., archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved June 5, 2018
  7. ^ Champion presents the new Greek national basketball team jersey Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Dame, ENR/PAZ // University Communications: Web // University of Notre (July 22, 2005). "Adidas allegiance // News // Notre Dame Magazine // University of Notre Dame". magazine.nd.edu. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  9. ^ Conlon, Sean (June 5, 2024). "Hanesbrands to sell Champion brand to Authentic Brands in $1.2 billion deal". CNBC. Retrieved June 5, 2024.
  10. ^ "National Basketball League | NBL". NBL.com.au. National Basketball League. Archived from the original on April 4, 2023. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Reebok signs deal with NBA by Richard Sandomir, NY Times, August 2001
  12. ^ FIBA firma alianza estratégica con la icónica marca Nike on FIBA.com, February 27, 2017
  13. ^ a b c d e f g NFL official uniform suppliers at the Gridiron Uniform Database
  14. ^ NY Cosmos jersey history on NASL Jerseys
  15. ^ REEBOK LANDS $200 MILLION+ NBA DEAL on Adage.com, August 2, 2001
  16. ^ Cyprus Basketball Federation, http://www.basketball.org.cy/ Archived 2010-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved October 1, 2015. (in Greek)

External links[edit]