Champion (sportswear)

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FormerlyKnickerbocker Knitting Co.
Champion Knitting Mills Inc.
TypePrivate (1919–89)
Subsidiary (1989–present)
IndustryTextile, footwear
Founded1919; 104 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 commercialised 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 was 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 kit 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 football 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]



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.[10] Champion also sponsored International association FIBA until 2017.[11]

The following is a list of some of them:

American/Canadian football[edit]

1994 Buffalo Bills' Jim Kelly jersey made by Champion

Association football[edit]


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 7 Dec 2022.
  2. ^ Key, Janet (14 February 1989). "Sara Lee Adds Champion Sportswear To Wardrobe". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 Jan 2020.
  3. ^ Wilson, Denis (2012-04-03). "The History of the Hoodie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-12-08.
  4. ^ a b About us on Champion-eu website
  5. ^ Robb, Gregory A. (14 February 1989). "Champion Products Accepts Bid". The New York Times.
  6. ^ JARochNY (2010-10-21), Abraham and William Feinbloom, Champion Products, Inc., archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2018-06-05
  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. "Adidas allegiance // News // Notre Dame Magazine // University of Notre Dame". Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  9. ^ "National Basketball League | NBL". National Basketball League. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b Reebok signs deal with NBA by Richard Sandomir, NY Times, Aug 2001
  11. ^ FIBA firma alianza estratégica con la icónica marca Nike on, 27 Feb 2017
  12. ^ a b c d e f g NFL official uniform suppliers at the Gridiron Uniform Database
  13. ^ NY Cosmos jersey history on NASL Jerseys
  14. ^ REEBOK LANDS $200 MILLION+ NBA DEAL on, 2 Aug 2001
  15. ^ Cyprus Basketball Federation, Archived 2010-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 1 October 2015. (in Greek)

External links[edit]