Sweatshirts are no doubt one of the most iconic 90s garments.
Here’s the deal:
Sweatshirts first made an appearance as a fashion product in the late 1910’s.
The American sportswear giant Champion is credited for having popularized the sweatshirt. They were originally meant for athletes to protect against harsh weather conditions. But, throughout the decades, the meaning of the sweatshirt greatly changed.
Now: With the first appearance of hip-hop culture in the 70s came the rise of the sweatshirt. Musicians and dancers of the culture began wearing sweatshirts because of the laidback appeal, comfortable feel, and the fact that it would keep you warm.
This ‘outlaw’ attitude that was used by the cool kids in the 70s was extended to the 90s with grunge fashion. Sweatshirts remained an ever-present garment in the wardrobe of women.
Among the most popular sweatshirt brands in the 90s that are still around today, are:
Both new and vintage designs are highly sought after.
90s Sweatshirt Brands
Many sportswear apparel brands had a ‘boom’ in the 70s with many musicians and celebrities opting for comfortable and casual garment options. This inspired the 90s. Everyone was wearing sweatshirts during the 90s – from hip hop singers to Lady Diana Spencer of England; this was a trend that reached everyone, everywhere.
Ellesse is an Italian sportswear brand that was founded in 1959. The brand gained international attention during the 70s, when it was solely producing skiwear garments.
In the late 70s and early 80s, the brand began producing clothing that could work both as sportswear and trendy streetwear. They were known for playing with logomania; all Ellesse clothing had the brand name written in big bold letters.
In the 90s, the brand became huge among celebrities and influencers, as one of the go-to brands to create streetstyle looks. One of the easiest ways to make sports apparel streetwear was through hoodies and sweatshirts.
Many women favored Ellesse during the 90s, and some even worked as spokespeople for the brand. This included Danish actress Brigiette Nielsen.
One of their most popular styles throughout the 90s was the collar neck pullover sweatshirt like above.
Fila was founded in Italy in 1911, and has since evolved into one of the best-known sportswear apparel brands across the globe. As Ellesse did, Fila moved into streetwear sportswear in the late 70s to accommodate the growing trends that were emerging due to the musical movements such as hip-hop.
The brand became famous for many garments, including chunky white sneakers, comfortable sweats, and their iconic navy, red, and white sweatshirt featuring the brand logo at the front and center. This sweatshirt was worn by women of all different styles, since it was versatile and could be paired with many different things. However, it represented the concept of comfortable streetwear.
The Italian athletic apparel brand Kappa entered the streetwear scene directly as it was created in 1978. The more contemporary brand was focused on creating apparel that could be worn not only by athletes, but by everyone who was participating in the sporty streetwear trend.
It became very popular in both Europe and North America, and still is sought after today for its nostalgic 90s designs. This authentic Kappa Casmiu Sweatshirt was simple. Long sleeves, slightly oversized, and came in an array of different colors. It featured the iconic Kappa logo of the two people sitting back to back.
American apparel company Nike was founded in 1964, originally by the name of Blue-Ribbon Sports. In the 70s it was changed to Nike, and began forming its way into becoming one of the highest selling sportswear apparel companies in the world.
Nike was favored by many as the sportswear brand of choice in the 90s, since it was highly promoted by celebrities and sports icons. The brand’s Essential Nike Fleece Pullover features a solid colored sweatshirt with the word Nike printed in bold at the center front.
American sportswear manufacturer, Champion was founded in 1919. The company focused on producing and commercializing casualwear apparel, shoes, and accessories. While they collaborated with various sports teams, they became better known for their interpretation of the sporty streetwear trend of the 90s.
Beginning in the 90s, women’s fashion trends included wearing Champion sweatshirts to accessorize a turtleneck top paired with jeans. Another common way to wear the sweatshirts was with skin tight biker shorts underneath.
Even today, Champion is a well-known brand that still produces pieces that seem taken right from the 90s. Check out this classic Champion Reverse Weave Boyfriend Crew Sweatshirt (US). It’s especially warm with a heavyweight 82% cotton while still maintaining the classic 90s vibe.
The two main sweatshirt styles that dominated the 90s were:
- The rounded neckline. Slightly oversized, baggy sweatshirt, that was more favored among grunge styles.
- The sweatshirt ‘hoodie’. Favored among hip hop styles.
Rounded Neckline Sweatshirt
The rounded neckline sweatshirt appealed more to the grunge music genre and aesthetic. Sweatshirts are essentially sweaters with the characteristics and structures similar to sweatpants. They are considered casual garments rather than sporty.
The rounded neckline sweatshirt also crossed-over to preppy movement. Throughout the 90s many old style sweatshirts featured the names or sports teams or universities. It was considered very chic to wear a Harvard sweatshirt for example. You can buy the officially licensed classic logo premium Harvard hoodie at Amazon. Designed and Printed in the US.
During the 90s, the hooded sweatshirt was symbolic of isolation, self-expression. It was made by many different sportswear brands that made classic sweatshirts. Brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Giorgio Armani famously interpreted 90s style hoodies in their collections.
While hoodies were slightly masculine garments, many women adapted them into their wardrobes for a sporty and edgy aesthetic. Alike the classic sweatshirts, many hoodies included logomania, sports teams, or the names of famous universities.
Read: The Definitive Guide to 90s Fashion Brands
Trends & Outfit Ideas
While there are endless ways to style sweatshirts, there are a few pairings that are very iconic of the 90s and are still very on trend today. Check out these ideas on how to style a sweatshirt:
Biker Shorts Chic
One of the easiest ways to style a sweatshirt, and one of the chicest, is the ‘biker shorts chic’ look. This includes pairing a 90s crewneck sweatshirt with:
- Biker shorts
- Chunky sneakers
- Above the ankle white socks
- Gold jewelry
- Pair of dark sunglasses
A tote bag is the perfect addition to this look. It’s both casual and presentable.
The look is extremely comfortable, very on trend, and will take you right back to the 1990s. For gold jewelry, opt for a pair of hoop earrings and a delicate chain bracelet.
Try not to overdo it with the accessories, as to not mess with the simplistic aesthetic of the outfit. For an alternative, wear a solid color tee and the sweatshirt tied around the waist.
This Nike Sportswear Crew sweatshirt made of sustainable materials is the ideal garment to pair with black biker shorts, white socks, and a pair of FILA sneakers. It can be worn to the gym or to run errands. Versatile!
All in Sweats
Another fashionable way to wear a sweatshirt is with matching sweatpants. Attempt to get the same brand and color, so the outfit matches. This has become a huge trend recently, and can be found in both magazine ads and through celebrities channelling their inner 90s style icons.
For a more contemporary appeal, choose a sweatshirt that is slightly cropped. Pair with Vans sneakers, ankle length socks, and a crossbody handbag for a more relaxed approach at this trend.
This Champion Reverse Weave Cropped Cut-off Crew Sweatshirt and Reverse Weave Joggers are the perfect duo to recreate the ‘all in sweats’ look.
Dressed Up Hoodie
A unique way to style your hoodie sweatshirt is to wear it beneath a blazer. While this seems like a big contrast, the finished look is highly appealing.
Pair a neutral toned hoodie with a brighter colored blazer and matching dress pants. To slightly tone down the elegance, match with a pair of white sneakers, and top handle handbag, and minimalistic jewelry. This look is sure to make a statement and is in no doubt a nod towards past 90s styles.
This Ellesse Torices oh hoody is a classic option and very reminiscent of the 90s. It’s the ideal garment to be paired underneath a blazer to recreate the ‘dressed up hoodie’ look.
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