Russell Athletic (brand)

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Russell Athletic
Industry Textile
Founded 1902; 115 years ago (1902)
in Alexander City, Alabama
Founder Benjamin Russell
Headquarters Bowling Green, Kentucky, United States
Area served
North America, Europe
Products Sports uniforms
Parent Russell Brands[1]
(Berkshire Hathaway)

Russell Athletic is an American athletics brand, it is the main brand of eponymous American company and its manufacturer and marketer Russell Brands, LLC.. Founded in 1902, the company produces uniforms for a wide range of sports, such as American football, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. With over a hundred years of experience since its founding, it supplied jersey uniforms and apparel for many professional sports teams of the major leagues in the United States of America in the past. Russell today has its focus on Universities, i.e. varsity and minor leagues.[2]



The company was founded by Benjamin Russell in Alexander City, Alabama, in 1902.[3] The original mill produced women's undershirts and children's undergarments. The mills beginning capacity was 150 garments daily. During the 1910s, Russell Manufacturing Co. become an established business. By 1925 long underwear, sweaters, athletic shirts and women's bloomers were added to the production of women's vests, making a more complete product line.

1932 saw how Russell acquired Southern Manufacturing Company, which gave the company access to athletic team apparel. This was the beginning of the Russell Athletic division's cutting and sewing operations. Later in 1938, Russell began making woven athletic garments, including basketball, baseball and football pants and jackets.


In 1941, founder Benjamin Russell died on the 16th of December and the reins of the company were passed to his son Benjamin C. Russell. During World War II, Russell's 'Athletic' Division sold primarily to the military. Shirts, drawers, T-shirts, athletic garments and special outer garments were made for the Army and Navy. Benjamin C. Russell died in 1945 and was succeeded as president by his brother, Thomas D. Russell. After the War, the company embarked on further expansion and development throughout its knitting, weaving, dyeing, finishing and cutting departments.

During the 1960s, the 'Athletic' division was the largest marketer and manufacturer of athletic apparel and uniforms in the country. In 1962, Russell Manufacturing Company's name was changed to Russell Mills, Inc. In 1973, Russell Mills' name was changed to "Russell Corporation", and the company expanded manufacturing across the Southern USA, also to Latin America and Scotland.

In 1992, Russell Athletic dealt a five-year contract to serve as the exclusive producer and marketer of athletic uniforms for most Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. The contract also stipulated that the company held the exclusive right to manufacture and market replicas of major league uniforms, T-shirts, and shorts.[3] The contract was extended after that period to 1999; after which there was no exclusive uniform supplier to MLB, but continued to supply uniforms to some MLB teams through the end of the 2004 season, when Majestic Athletic became the exclusive supplier to uniforms to MLB, which continues to this day.


On April 17, 2006, Berkshire Hathaway agreed to purchase 100% of Russell. Finally on August 1, 2006, Russell shareholders approved the sale of their firm to Berkshire Hathaway for $18.00 per share in cash. The acquisition was successfully completed on the following day. Russell's brands joined Fruit of the Loom in the Berkshire Hathaway family of products.[3]

International operations[edit]

Over the last decade Russell Athletic has expanded under licence of Russell Brands to a number of markets around the world focusing on their signature authentic American sportswear and the story behind the invention of the sweatshirt. The largest market outside the USA is Russell Athletic Europe which is operated by Future Brands Ltd in London a subsidiary of the Batra Group. Following their success in Europe, Russell Athletic also operates in Australia , Japan and South Africa under licence of Russell Brands. Currently Russell Athletic has a team of well known brand ambassadors representing the brand in their local markets, ranging from Olympic swimmers Stephanie Rice and Ellie Faulkner to number of professional Rugby Union and Rugby League players in the England and South Africa such as Sailosi Tagicakibau, Cheslin Kolbe, Shaun Lunt, Ryan Atkins and Stevie Ward and professional health ambassadors and Yoga ambassadors such as Samantha Laura Kaye.[4] In early 2015 Russell Athletic Europe visited one of their factories and filmed the process of the making of a T-shirt, out of this footage they created a successful time lapse video called The T-Shirt How It's Made


On October, 2010, Russell Athletic signed with the famous team and entertainment show The Harlem Globetrotters to provide them official uniforms, practice and travel gear. The deal was to run through the end of 2013.[5][6]


Current sponsorships[edit]

American Football[edit]




Past sponsorships[edit]

American Football[edit]

Many teams of the NFL wore uniforms provided by Russell Athletic during the 1990s, they are:[7]


  • United States MLB - all teams (1992–98) [8]

Formula One[edit]



External links[edit]