BORN IN ALABAMA. 1902

On March 3, 1902, Russell Athletic was founded by 26-year-old Benjamin Russell as the Russell Manufacturing Company in Alexander City, AL. The tiny factory had 10 sewing machines and 8 knitting machines. Russell Manufacturing Company’s first garment was a women and children’s knit shirt. Benjamin Russell’s passion for sports and his entrepreneurial spirit fuelled civic pride creating jobs for his community, while later making uniforms for teams and apparel for athletes throughout the United States.

THE PIONEER, INVENTOR, AND CREATOR OF THE SWEATSHIRT

The ‘Sweatshirt’ is attributed to Benjamin Russell Junior, who was playing football for the University of Alabama at the time.

In 1926, Founder Ben Russell’s son, Benny, came to his dad with a new idea for an all-cotton practice football jersey replacing the itchy, chafing wool uniforms worn at that time. Knowing the comfort and durability of cotton, the iconic sweatshirt began production in the Russell Athletic mills in 1930.

THE WAR YEARS

In 1932 Russell went on to acquire Southern Manufacturing Company, which gave the company access to athletic team apparel. This was the beginning of the Russell Athletic division’s cutting and sewing operations. Russell began making woven athletic garments.

During World War Two, Russell’s ‘Athletic’ Division sold primarily to the military. Shirts, drawers, t-shirts, athletic garments and special outer garments were made for the Army and Navy. Benjamin C. Russell died in 1945 and was succeeded as president by his brother, Thomas D. Russell.

‘THE EAGLE HAS LANDED’

During the 1960’s the ‘Athletic’ division was the largest marketer and manufacturer of athletic apparel and uniforms in the USA.

By the 1960s, Russell Manufacturing Company's athletic division had become the largest manufacturer of sports apparel and uniforms in the United States. In 1962, Russell Manufacturing Company changed its name to Russell Mills, Inc. and began using the American Eagle to represent its iconic brand image

FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

By the 1990’s Russell Athletic became one of the largest suppliers of athletic team uniforms in Major League Baseball, NFL, college and high school sport programs through to little league.

On December 26, 1985 Russell’s Common Stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The brand went from strength to strength and Russell began to add other businesses to its portfolio of brands beginning with the acquisition of the Cross Creek Golf brand.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

In May 2002, Russell celebrated its 100th anniversary. The brand had come a long way from its early origins in Alexander City, Alabama.

A brand rich in sporting heritage, Russell sports lifestyle ranges take inspiration combining the old with the new. With an unwavering focus on innovation and quality, Russell is the brand for sports inspired people to get the edge in their active lives.

TODAY AND BEYOND

Russell has never forgotten that its products are only as good as the people who make them. As we celebrate over 100 years in business Russell Athletic looks to the future with the same sense of excitement and purpose that has driven the company since 1902 from sweet home Alabama.