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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.