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A raglan sleeve sweatshirt with Harley-Davidson branding

A sweatshirt is a long-sleeved pullover shirt or jacket fashioned out of thick, usually cotton, cloth material.[1][2] Sweatshirts are almost exclusively casual attire and hence not as formal as some sweaters. Sweatshirts may or may not have a hood. A sweatshirt with a hood is now usually referred to as a hoodie, although more formal media still use the term "hooded sweatshirt".


In 1920, Benjamin Russell Jr., a quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide Football team, was tired of the constant chafing and itching caused by their wool football uniforms.[3] He worked with his father, whose company Russell Manufacturing Company made women's and children's knit garments, to come up with a better option.[4] They created a thick cotton practice jersey that was a modification of a ladies' union suit top.[5] These loose, collarless pullovers were the first sweatshirts. A new division of the company, focusing solely on the production of sweatshirts, became the Russell Athletic Company.

The sweatshirt's potential as a portable advertising tool was discovered in the 1960s when U.S. universities began printing their names on them to exhibit school pride. The sweatshirt, along with the T-shirt, provided a cheap and effective way of disseminating information on a mass scale. The T-shirt slogan fad of the 1970s inevitably translated to sweatshirts. Due to the relative simplicity of customization and the power of clever graphics combined with catchphrases, sweatshirts became a vehicle for personal expression for both the designer and the wearer.[6]

In Australia, the sweatshirt is referred to as a 'Sloppy Joe'. [citation needed]


  1. ^ "sweatshirt". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/OED/2226632976. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. ^ "sweatshirt". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  3. ^ Gallagher, Jake (2013-08-28). "Dropping Knowledge: The Crewneck Sweatshirt". GQ. Archived from the original on 2021-10-20. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
  4. ^ "Russell Athletic History". Russell US. Archived from the original on 2023-01-30. Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  5. ^ "A Brief Exploration of the Evolution of the Hoodie". Queensboro: Behind the Seams. 2015-02-11. Archived from the original on 2018-06-08. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
  6. ^ "Sweatshirt". LoveToKnow. Archived from the original on 2017-09-04. Retrieved 2017-09-19.