Vintage History
THE HISTORY OF ATHLETIC SHIRTS

The origins of the Athletic Shirt that we know today began more than 150 years ago. Almost simultaneously in America and in England, baseball teams in America and football teams in England started to wear matching uniforms to identify themselves as teammates and within 20 years, they added large embroidered letters or symbols onto the shirts.

Harvard University in America was one of the first schools to place the first letter of their school “H” onto their baseball jerseys. This happened in 1865 and for twenty five years following the use of the embroidered letter “H” on the shirts, it was the practice of the team captain to allow certain players who played in the most important games to keep the “H” jerseys as an award.

While the fabrics used in the first athletic shirts was usually made of wool, which was the common clothing material of the time, cotton fabrics found increasing popularity towards the end of the 19th century as comfort and versatility were more sought after. Over time, the colors associated with a particular University or famous sports’ team were incorporated into the colors of the shirts and pants worn by the athletes.

By the mid 1900’s as synthetic fabrics were introduced, they became an immediate choice for manufacturers and wearers of athletic jerseys because they offered the most comfort and wearability for the sports player.

If you look back at the athletic shirts worn by famous sportsmen all over the world in the last 50 years, you can see a continuing evolution in the design, styles and cutting of basketball, football and baseball apparel as it continues to evolve.