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Champion is the hot athletic brand once again according to social and sales data

2 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in

For years, Champion was the odd player out when it came to athletic wear. It was the inexpensive brand found in discount racks at big-box stores while Adidas, Puma, and Under Armour commanded both popularity and fancy price tags.

But the Hanes ($NYSE:HBI) brand — founded 100 years ago in 1919 as the "Knickerbocker Knitting Company" (it became "Champion Knitting Mills Inc." in 1930) — has seen a resurgence in popularity as of late. Its bounceback, according to those in the know, can be traced to when fashion designer Virgil Abloh bought deadstock Champion clothing for just $40, screen-printed his own designs on them, and turned them around for $550 back in 2012. The gear sold like wildfire and his Off-White streetwear brand was borne. By then, Champion was hip again.

Champion's sudden coolness showed its presence in the brand's social media following, which, unlike sibling brand Hanes, has seen an appreciable uptick since at least 2016.

The story is similar on Twitter, where Champion is picking up followers as other brands in Hanes' portfolio do just the opposite.

But how does this translate where it matters the most — at the register? To the delight of Amazon, Walmart, and Target shoppers, Champion's pricing has remained affordable, for the most part, and the brand is now seen on the street as much as its 20th-Century rivals. 

As a result, sales numbers have been just as positive as those of social.

At Amazon, the Champion Men's Classic Jersey Script T-Shirt has crawled its way up the e-commerce giant's sales ranks each quarter since 2018, from an avergage 77 out of 100 to 49 out of 100 as of this summer.

As of today, 38 Champion men's products — from shorts, to t-shirts, to socks — have ranked among Amazon's top-100 clothing items, some for hundreds of days, like the Men's Jersey Short and Powerblend Fleece Pullover Hoodie.

Name

Category Rank (Average)

Days Ranked

Champion Men's Jersey Short With Pockets

43.6

316

Champion Men's Long Mesh Short with Pockets

29.8

234

Champion Men's Powerblend Fleece Pullover Hoodie

47.4

199

Champion Men's Closed Bottom Light Weight Jersey Sweatpant

61.6

170

Champion Men's 6 Pack No Show Socks, White/Grey Head/Sliver, 12-14

53.6

124

Champion Men's Powerblend Retro Fleece Jogger Pant

65.8

93

Champion Men's Classic Jersey T-Shirt

27.8

85

Champion Men's Long Mesh Short With Pockets

53.4

62

Champion Men's Long Mesh Short with Pockets, Crimson

5.5

45

Champion Men's 6 Pack No Show Socks

67.7

43

Fashion comes and goes, of course, but for a 100 year-old brand like Champion to make a come back of this sort after spending decades in the discount bin is impressive at the very least, especially in a retail environment frought with e-commerce challenges and dozens of hot, young brands.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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