The Hand and Jones Sweatshirt Sweater
A New Style Essential
The origins of sportswear in Britain – or at least wearing clothing specifically for sport – can be traced back to the late Victorians. At that time, men donned their most worn trousers and tightest woollen jerseys to play the rugged team sports such as football and rugby that were popular in embracing the overt masculinity of the era.
Around the same time on the opposite side of the Atlantic, the varsity style is credited as emerging from Harvard University. As a sign of recognition for consistent, outstanding athletic performance, the letter H for Harvard was sewn onto the flannel jackets and wool sweaters of the top players, linking sporting achievement with academic excellence for the first time.
In the early 1920’s Benjamin Russell Jr, himself a footballer for the University of Alabama, was tired of wearing itchy and sweaty wool tops for sport. He approached his mill-owning father with the idea of using cotton as a cooler and more absorbent base fabric. From this single innovation the Russell Athletic mill began to produce the now iconic long sleeve, crew neck jersey cotton sweatshirt. The triangle ‘V’ insert was developed to reinforce the neckline ribbing and prevent it stretching-out from the physicality of sport and training.
The American universities took the simple sweatshirt further in its evolution by turning it into a promotional tool. In the 1960’s universities began printing, sewing or embroidering their names onto the front as an indication of belonging, pride and prestige of the respective institutions. This opening out of the appeal of the simple sports sweatshirt is today the foundation of many successful brands and has seen it broadly taken up in high fashion, sports and streetwear alike.
We have been inspired by these influences to introduce one of our signature garments, the Sweatshirt Sweater – a refined hybrid of a sweatshirt and wool cashmere sweater. The piece combines the classic sweatshirt ‘V’ neck insert with hand linked detailing at the set-in sleeve and a ribbed hem and cuffs. We will also be producing versions with bold text in a contrasting yarn across the chest to create a classic yet quirky varsity feel.
With its rich heritage and a nod to our ancestors on both sides of the Atlantic, we hope our Sweatshirt Sweater will soon become a new style essential for you too.