When Were Sweatpants Invented? (What Was the Original Purpose of Sweatpants?)

Everyone has worn sweatpants at least once in their lives. They’re those comfy, baggy bottoms that can be worn like pajamas or even as an outfit to your favorite pizza parlor (where we all wear them). The question is: when were sweatpants invented? And what do we know about their original purpose?

They’re designed to absorb moisture, which makes them super soft and comfy, and perfect for chilling at home watching a game with your best friends.

When Were Sweatpants Invented?

In the 1920s the concept of sweatpants was introduced. They were designed for those who did a lot of physical exercises. Athletes especially favored the pants and they became very popular among them. The elasticity of these pants made them comfortable to wear so that you could move freely in them. Yet, they were still fashionable enough to wear in public.

The company that is said to have invented these sweatpants is Le Coq Sportif (which translates into English as “The Sporting Rooster”).

Where Were the Sweatpants Invented?

Le Coq Sportif was founded in France in 1882 by Émile Camuset and was one of the first companies to design athletic clothing.

Around the same time that Le Coq Sportif came out with their sweatpants, another French company called Champion also started making their own version of the garment.

 

Champion Men's Authentic Open Bottom Jersey Pant, X-Large - Granite Heather

 

Sweatpants came into widespread use during World War II. Soldiers used them because they were easy to wash and quick to dry, making them ideal for a mobile army on the move. In fact, all kinds of athletic wear became more popular during this period as people wanted clothes that would be easy to wash on military bases without access to laundry facilities.

Why Were Sweatpants Invented?

In the 1920s, boxers and wrestlers would train in loose-fitting pants made from absorbent cotton fabric to keep them dry. The pants were called “sweat pants” because they were ideal for sweating in; when the garment got wet from perspiration, it would dry quickly.

Sweatpants were originally used by athletes who worked out. The sweat that accumulated on their bodies while they worked out was absorbed in sweatpants which made it easy for them to change into something clean after they finished their workout.

The purpose of sweatpants was to make it easier for athletes to transition from exercise to streetwear. Before this invention, athletes would have to change into street clothes if they wanted to leave the gym and go out socially.

However, in the late 1960s, this was deemed uncool. Today, there are many different styles of sweatpants for various uses. Some are plain and simple while others are printed with designs or brand names.

When Did Sweatpants Became Popular?

Sweatpants were very popular in the 1980s. In the 1990s, they were worn by hip-hop artists, who wore them with sneakers, gold chains, and large oversize shirts. This trend was short-lived, but it made sweatpants acceptable to wear in public.

In the 1990s, Nike commercialized sweatpants and promoted them as everyday wear. They became more popular among the general public. Sweatpants were marketed toward women during this time as well as men.

Nowadays, fashion designers promote sweatpants in runway shows along with other clothing lines. There is even a website called SweatPants USA where people can buy sweatpants from top brands such as Calvin Klein and Prana.

In the early 2000s, many celebrities started wearing sweatpants in public. The trend was so popular that even big fashion companies like Versace and Burberry started producing sweatpants of their own. Today, sweats are sported not only by celebrities but by many of us!

Why Do They Call Them Sweatpants?

Where did the word “sweatpants” come from anyway? It sounds so weirdly specific! Let’s break it down.

  1. Sweat = sweat
  2. Pants = pants (duh).

So, “sweat pants” are pants that you wear when you sweat. They were originally worn by athletes at the end of their workouts because their muscles were all hot and sweaty. They also wore them to keep warm after their workouts as well.

Did They Have Sweatpants in the 80s?

Did they ever! The ’80s were like the decade of excess. The economy was booming as it came out of the recession of the ’70s and everyone was determined to live largely. There were huge shoulder pads, big hair, and even bigger earrings!  And then there was the fashion. The fashion in the ’80s is still so iconic that we can’t help but remember it fondly.

Everyone wanted an outfit from the “Brat Pack” era, or at least their own pair of fluorescent sweatpants. You know those ones I’m talking about? The ones with all the neon colors and the elastic waistband? Those were awesome!

Sweatpants have come a long way since the 80s. Anyone who has seen pictures of people wearing them in the 1980s knows just how bad they looked. Back then, they were baggy and shapeless, but hey, they were comfortable.

When Did Grey Sweatpants Start?

According to Urban Dictionary, grey sweatpants are “when a guy is wearing sweat pants, and you can see the outline of his private parts.”

It all started in late 2016 on Twitter when the hashtag went viral. It was all about men in various poses posting pictures of themselves while carefully positioning their packages for all the world to see. Source

 

Champion Men's Powerblend Sweats Retro Jogger Pants, oxford gray, Medium

 

While some of the tweets were funny, others were downright bizarre and disturbing. Needless to say most of the guys posing in grey sweatpants leave very little to the imagination.

What City Wears the Most Sweatpants?

There’s no official sweatpants capital of the United States, but some cities are definitely “sweats happier” than others.

It turns out Philadelphia residents are the sweatpantiest, wearing them 57 percent of the time on average. New York City came in second, followed by Chicago and Los Angeles. On the other hand, Washington, D.C., was the least likely city to be wearing them, with just 33 percent of people sporting sweats on a given day.

The data comes from a couple of sources. The first is the Google Trends study, which was based on search data from Philadelphia (obviously), Seattle, Washington D.C., Austin, Texas, and San Francisco.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t an exact science: Just because someone is searching for “sweatpants” doesn’t mean they’re looking to buy them, nor does it mean they’re specifically looking in Philadelphia. But if there’s one thing you can count on Philadelphians doing, it’s sweating (and wearing sweatpants).


In summary, gone are the days when sweatpants were a casual, athletic piece of clothing. Businesses, designers, and brands have taken a liking to the designer sweatpants trend and they have become everyday casual garments available in many colors, fabrics, prints, and patterns.

You may also be interested in… Do Sweatpants Shrink in the Dryer?