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The History of Champion T-Shirt Tags (1967-2000s)

History of vintage Champion Brand T-Shirt Tags

Brands

The History of Champion T-Shirt Tags (1967-2000s)

1967-1969

Champion Products was incorporated in 1967 after the company made its initial public offering. The company used a generic Champion Products placeholder tag until about 1969. All tags predating 1967 used the previous company name “Champion Knitwear.”

1967-69s Champion Products Inc T-Shirt Tag

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

1969-1981

The Champion script logo was introduced to T-shirt tags in 1969. While both blue and red variations exist, the “blue bar” version is far more common. Why they also used the red version remains an unsolved vintage mystery. The earliest tags from this era have no care instructions printed on the reverse side, just the company name, RN number, and “made in USA.”

Champion 100% Cotton Blue Bar T-Shirt Tag

Champion 100% cotton Blue Bar X-Large Full Tag

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

Champion 100% Cotton Red Bar T-Shirt

1981-1990

The next iteration of T-shirt tags is more subdued with the Champion script logo printed in blue on a white background. The rear was updated to include laundry care symbols in addition to written instructions. Most T-shirts from the 1980s use this style tag.

1980s - Champion T-shirt tag

1980s - Champion T-shirt tag Full

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

1981-Early 1990s

Champion Made in USA Full tag

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

It Takes a Little More Made in USA Champion Full Tag

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

In the early 1980s Champion made a push into branded merchandise by adding the C logo to the sleeve of their garments. Some of these early products included new blue woven labels with the C logo and Champion script logo on the front and “It Takes A Little More…” tagline on the rear. This tag was used on T-shirts primarily in the mid/late 1980s with some earlier exceptions. Later versions of the tag replaced the tagline with care instructions and fabric composition info.

1990-Mid 1990s

The primary 80s Champion tag was upgraded around 1990 to a two-tone woven label that was used primarily on heavyweight blanks and other athletic issue items.

1990s - Champion T-shirt tag assembled in Mexico

Champion Tag Assembled in Mexico Full

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

Early 1990s-Early 2000s

For lightweight and licensed apparel, Champion utilized a printed label from the early 1990s into the early 2000s. Nearly all garments were made in the USA when circulation began and by the end, all production had moved to Mexico, Honduras, and other low-wage countries.

1990s - Champion T-shirt tag Made in Mexico

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

1990s - Champion T-shirt tag Made in USA

Late 1990s-Early 2000s

At around the time of the 1996 Olympics, Champion’s heavyweight and athletic issue T-shirt tags received a patriotic re-brand with the addition of a red stripe to match the colors of the US flag. “Authentic Athletic Apparel” was also added to align with product marketing campaigns of the time. Usually, when you start adding words like “authentic” to your product branding, you’ve made the shift from a manufacturing company to a marketing company.

Late 90s - 2000s Champion Authentic Athletic Apparel tag

Photos courtesy of Tags and Threads

For a complete tag guide for vintage Champion T-shirts and all other product categories, check out Guide to Vintage Champion at https://shop.tagsandthreads.com.

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