HISTORY AND MENSWEAR: THE DORITO

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Sweats from United Stock Dry Goods are now in stock at the shop and feature a refined fit along with some new details.

What hasn’t changed, however, are the staple details that are passed along from season to season and even decade to decade. The elasticized sleeve cuffs, drawstring hood, full zipper, and of course, that mysterious triangle shape on the neck of our crewnecks.

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That particular detail, the small triangle shape, has been the subject of much debate and study in among vintage menswear enthusiasts, collectors and makers.

First, let’s look at the origins of the modern sweatshirt. Russell Athletic was founded in 1902 by Benjamin Russell. It was his son, Benjamin Russell Jr. who was fed up with his team’s itchy wool practice jerseys, causing him to chop the lower half off of the company’s female undergarments to create the sweatshirt.

The sweatshirt was firmly inserted into popular culture in the 1940’s when it was ordered en mass for World War 2 soldiers to wear during training. When they arrived home, they continued wearing their sweatshirts because they were so comfortable.

The mysterious triangle has remained through all of this in spite of there being no single answer as to its function. Some say that it was inserted to reinforce the collar to prevent ripping during a rough match. Another theory proposes that it was inserted to catch an athlete’s sweat. Yet another theory espouses that this is in place to accommodate larger heads and thicker necks.

No matter the origins of this detail, we find it delightfully fascinating that such details are passed down through garments for nearly a century. These small details tell us a lot about where we’ve been and our collective history.

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