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“Everything for Sports” Sportswear Innovation with Knitted Jerseys

The cover of the 1930 catalog bore the phrase, “Pour Tous Sports,” meaning “everything for sports.” It says that Le Coq Sportif is the oldest specialty maker of sportswear with cotton and wool jerseys.
With the jersey, Le Coq Sportif revolutionized sportswear.
There are many stories about the origin of sports. The FA Cup began in 1871, The Championships, Wimbledon in 1877, and so on. Sports such as soccer, tennis, rugby, road bicycle racing and field hockey spread worldwide from England.
Accordingly, in the beginning most sportswear was made in England, too. That apparel was fashioned from cotton fabric,
a material that could be mass-produced thanks to the Industrial Revolution. Have you ever seen a vintage sports photo? The clothing tends to be loose and coarse.
It was made thick for durability, with a loose fit because the fabric was not stretchy.
Reportedly, some of the fabric was wool woven like flannel, but still it didn’t have a snug fit, sweat would pool up in the material and it would make the body cold.
That was when the sports fanatic Émile Camuset, who took over a textile factory from his father, stepped in.
He revolutionized sportswear by producing it from knitted material.

Bar Romillon, a Café for Fellow Sports Fans

Le Coq Sportif was founded on a property in the Department of Aube, where the artist Renoir would spend his summers.
It is also part of the Champagne region. The knitting industry prospered here beginning in the 19th century, and Camuset’s father was a knitting craftsman.
The son who took over the business was fascinated by sports. He placed third in a bicycle race to Paris, back when bicycles had wooden rims and fixed gears. He also helped run a local football club. Soccer was immensely popular then. There were four clubs in the same region
and their derby matches took on a festive air.
In the center of the action was the friendly and gregarious Émile Camuset.
He remodeled his atelier into a café and opened it up as a place for sports fans to get together. As a sports nut himself, Camuset believed that wool knitted into jersey material that fit the body but allowed free movement, while also keeping sweat from making the wearer too cold, was perfect for sportswear. Camuset handed out samples to his friends to get their opinions and make improvements one after another.
He hung new pieces in the café window. The clothing’s reputation spread to Paris and then to England, which led to the 1930 catalog.

Reference material:

Raymond Thomas (1993) “New Edition: The History of Sports” Hakusuisha Publishing (Que sais-je)
Roland Camuset “The Story of Le Coq Sportif” Brand of French Teams

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