How to tell if Champion is vintage

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How to tell if Champion is vintage

Finding its beginnings in 1919, brother Abraham and William Feinbloom started a knitwear company that sold clothing and apparel wholesale called the Knickerbocker Knitting Mills. Whilst they found success with this venture, they also noticed the lack of quality clothing within sports, in particular the American Football team. After partnering with local manufacturers to create sweatshirts and t-shirts, they attracted the attention of Michigan University who saw potential in these garments to keep athletes comfortable in between games and practice. As they shifted their focus towards sportswear manufacturing, the Feinbloom brothers decided to rebrand the company to something more appropriate for athletes, hence the Champion Knitting Mills was born.

Vintage Champion Outfit - Outfit Inspiration - OneOff Vintage

How to tell if Champion is vintage from the logo

The Champion logo over the years has become an iconic symbol of American sportswear manufacturing. The logo can be found on nearly all items of Champion clothing, whether it’s a big spellout across the front, a small logo on the chest or a subtle logo on the sleeve cuff. For over a century Champion has been producing high quality sportswear and its brand is closely associated with this image. So, it should come as no surprise that they promote the logo everywhere they can.

Unlike many fashion and sportswear brands that have been running for as long as Champion, the logo has only ever been updated once in the 1960s. Since the logo has been updated, Champion have used the C emblem and the full spellout logo interchangeably. This logo and branding of Champion has become closely associated with innovation with sportswear, even being credited with inventing the design of the modern hoodie.

1919 to 1960s logo

1919 to 1960s Champion Logo - Vintage Champion Logo

  • The original logo included an image of an athlete crossing a finished line
  • Initially the company was called the Knickerbocker Knitting Company, however it used this logo and branding for the tags of its first ever apparel deal with the Michigan Wolverines

1960s to now

1960s to now Champion Logo - Vintage Champion Logo

  • Throughout the 1950s, the Champion logo was experimented with and the well-known C with the vertical bar can be found on a few items of clothing
  • This design didn’t reach the status of the brands ‘official’ logo until the 1960s, suggesting that it wasn’t put out there for its first decade of existence

How to tell if Champion is vintage from the tags

Over the years, Champion has quite regularly updated the design of its tags. They have been updated with new logos, new sizing information and tend to include a lot more care instructions as the years have passed. However, it should be noted that Champion has created so many different tags and variations for different lines of clothing that this list does not include every Champion tag since its inception. However, by looking for clues on the tag, such as the company tagline e.g., Champion Knitwear Company, Champion Processed sportswear and Champion Authentic Athletic Apparel, it is possible to narrow down an approximate era of production.

1940s vintage Champion tags

  • At this time the company was still known as the Champion Knitwear Company, as can be seen on the tag
  • This original logo includes an emblem on the left side of a runner crossing a finish line
  • The word Champion is blocky and does not really resemble the modern font

1940s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1950s vintage Champion tags

  • In the 1950s the runner emblem was changed to blue
  • In the late 1950s a new font was used for the Champion text and replaced Knitwear Company with the words Processed Sportswear
  • The font was also updated in the late 1950s to a more script like font

1950s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1960s vintage Champion tags

  • Some of the tags at this time included the emblem of the runner in the C of Champion
  • The text remained blocky

1960s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1960s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1970s vintage Champion tags

  • The commonly recognised script logo became widely adopted on tags in the 1970s
  • It includes the C with the line through it
  • The script logos were offset on a coloured background at this time as can be seen
  • Champion also moved away from using measurements for sizing and only used word sizing from this point onwards

1970s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1980s vintage Champion tags

  • The script logo was in blue in the 1980s
  • In the 1980s other materials were introduced other than cotton as can be seen on the left tag

1980s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1980s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

1990s vintage Champion tags

  • In the 1990s a heavier, slightly shiny material was used for neck tags as can be seen on the left
  • On the right the thick tag material and the pixelated stitched in text is a sign that this is a 1990s tag, as this type was generally only used at this time

1990s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

2000s vintage Champion tags

  • Some tags at this time moved to a longer design with more care information on them as can be seen with the left tag
  • The tagline of ‘Authentic Athletic Apparel’ was introduced in the 2000s
  • Over the years more and more emphasis has been placed on the C emblem, and it has become a logo in its own right on tags and items of clothing

2000s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

2010s vintage Champion tags

  • The use of sizing in multiple languages became more common in the 2010s as Champion became a globally selling brand
  • A giveaway that an item of Champion clothing is relatively new is the inclusion of the website on the tags, as can be seen on the white tag on the right
  • More of the tags include the C emblem and the Champion script logo on them around this time

2010s vintage Champion tags - OneOff Vintage

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