Cotton Connoisseurs - The Admiral Wigston Sweatshirt
The story of our Wigston Sweatshirt is in many ways the story of the brand itself. It’s a yarn that stretches back over 100 years, all the way back to Leicester by way of military sportswear, premium materials, and expert craftsmanship. Before we weave our way through the construction of the garment and the all important details of the final product though, let us begin with a little history and a time and place where clothing manufacturing once made up the very fabric of local life. Namely, Wigston in Leicestershire at the turn of the last century.
A Brief History of the Wigston Sweat
Our first Wigston factory opened in 1903 before moving to a larger premises at the advent of World War I as we found ourselves making our first range of sportswear for the Royal Navy. This relationship with the military continued after the war had ended and it was in the 1920s that the sweatshirt as we know it first emerged, as a more comfortable alternative to scratchy woollen training jerseys. The jumpers were generally oversized, to fit over existing kit, with distinctive features that are still retained in our modern day Wigston Sweatshirt, such as a thicker, triangular piece of cotton being inserted into the collar. A classic example of form following function, the purpose of this feature was to collect the inevitable by-product of any strenuous physical activity - sweat. It’s also how the garment earned its name. The appeal of this comfortable and functional bit of training kit became increasingly popular across a range of sporting activities over the ensuing decades, from boxing and athletics, to football and rugby.
Construction of the Garment
The manufacture of sportswear 100 years ago was approached with two main considerations in mind - quality and longevity. Garments had to withstand the rigours of physical activity in all conditions, and do so time and again. The Wigston Sweatshirt is made from heavyweight, 460gsm Loopback Cotton. This type of fabric is warp knitted with a flat face and loops on the underside, which serve the same purpose as the loops on a towel: to absorb moisture and sweat.
The Design Process
These days, all of our garments are designed in Manchester, a part of the world that has something of a pedigree when it comes to fabric production and innovation. The 2x2 rib collar and cuffs of the Wigston means that two stitches are knitted and then two stitches purled, to ensure the ribs are the same width as the ‘valleys’ between them. This, together with the set-in sleeves and the aforementioned ribbed V-notch neck insert ensures ease of movement and a long-lasting shape. It’s garment dyed and pre-shrunk too, so you don’t need to worry about throwing it in the wash after grafting in all weathers. Or, perhaps you simply want your sweatshirt to maintain its colour and shape for years to come.
With such exacting standards demanded throughout the design process, finding a factory with the same approach to production wasn’t easy. Our search for the best eventually led us to a state-of-the-art factory in Portugal. By combining extremely high levels of expertise with cutting edge technology, this 21st-century facility is sought after by the world’s leading fashion houses. What’s more, by weaving locally sourced fabrics in-house, carbon footprints are kept to a minimum and control is maintained across the entire manufacturing process, right down to the smallest detail.
The Final Product
The result is a wardrobe staple that is anything but standard. Each Wigston Sweatshirt is interwoven with over 100 years of experience and craftsmanship and, during that time, we’ve learned that it is important to sweat the details. From the authentic ribbed V-notch neck to the cover stitch seams, freedom of movement was essential on Royal Navy sports fields, and so these characteristics remain. And the 400gsm 100% Loopback Cotton and side seam panels ensure this sweatshirt remains as resilient and durable as the sailors that once wore it. A lot has changed over the last century but some things endure. The value of a timeless piece of clothing that is built to last is surely one of them.
See the Wigston Sweatshirt for yourself.