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A RICH HISTORY

RUSSELL ATHLETIC HISTORY

A RICH HISTORY

AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY IN ALABAMA, COTTON WAS KING, BUT FOOTBALL WAS A CLOSE SECOND. FOR BENJAMIN RUSSELL, GROWING UP IN ALEXANDER CITY, ALABAMA WAS TOUGH. AFTER A FIRE IN 1902 THAT DESTROYED MOST OF ALEX CITY, RUSSELL RALLIED TO BUILD A HOSPITAL, HOTEL, LAUNDRY, GROCERY STORE, BAKERY, AND TELEPHONE OPERATION. THE TOWN HELPED SHAPE THE BRAND’S LEGACY AND COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY, SPORTS, AND OVERCOMING ADVERSITY. RUSSELL ATHLETIC WAS BORN ON THE PLAYING FIELDS OF AMERICA. TODAY, RUSSELL ATHLETIC EMBODIES BENJAMIN RUSSELL’S SPIRIT BY WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES AND SUPPORTING TEAMS, WHETHER THAT TEAM BE AT HOME, SCHOOL, OR WORK. WE DELIVER INCREDIBLE VALUE TO OUR CONSUMERS BY MAKING QUALITY ATHLETIC APPAREL WITH TECHNICAL FEATURES AND BENEFITS FOR OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE. Scroll Down

1902
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
BORN IN ALABAMA, 1902

On March 3, 1902, Russell Athletic was founded by 26-year-old Benjamin Russell as the Russell Manufacturing Company in Alexander City, AL. The tiny factory had 10 sewing machines and 8 knitting machines. Russell Manufacturing Company’s first garment was a women and children’s knit shirt. Benjamin Russell’s passion for sports and his entrepreneurial spirit fueled civic pride creating jobs for his community, while later making uniforms for teams and apparel for athletes throughout the United States.

1930
1930
THE PIONEER, INVENTOR, AND CREATOR OF THE SWEATSHIRT

In 1926, Founder Ben Russell’s son, Benny, came to his dad with a new idea for an all-cotton practice football jersey replacing the itchy, chafing wool uniforms worn at that time. Knowing the comfort and durability of cotton, the iconic sweatshirt began production in the Russell Athletic mills in 1930.

THE PIONEER, INVENTOR, AND CREATOR OF THE SWEATSHIRT
RUSSELL ACQUIRES SOUTHERN MANUFACTURING COMPANY
1932
RUSSELL ACQUIRES SOUTHERN MANUFACTURING COMPANY

Russell went on to acquire Southern Manufacturing Company, which gave the company access to athletic team apparel. This was the beginning of the Russell Athletic division’s cutting and sewing operations. Russell began making woven athletic garments, including basketball, baseball and football pants and jackets for teams across the United States.

Benjamin C. Russell Takes the Reins
1941
Benjamin C. Russell Takes the Reins

Benjamin Russell died on December 16, 1941 passing the company’s torch to his son Benjamin C. Russell.

Russell Supplied Apparel to U.S. Military
1941 - 1945
Russell Supplied Apparel to U.S. Military

During World War II, Russell’s athletic division primarily supplied the U.S. military with shirts, underwear, T-shirts, athletic garments and special outer garments specifically made for the Army and Navy.

Thomas D. Russell Takes Over
1945
Thomas D. Russell Takes Over

In 1945, Benjamin C. Russell passed away succeeded by his brother Thomas D. Russell.

1962
1960s
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

By the 1960s, Russell Manufacturing Company's athletic division had become the largest manufacturer of sports apparel and uniforms in the United States. In 1962, Russell Manufacturing Company changed its name to Russell Mills, Inc. and began using the American Eagle to represent its iconic brand image.

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
1973
1973
RUSSELL MILLS, INC. BECOMES RUSSELL CORPORATION

Russell Mills, Inc. name was changed to Russell Corporation and expanded manufacturing across Southern USA as well as to Latin America and across the Atlantic to Scotland.

RUSSELL MILLS, INC. BECOMES RUSSELL CORPORATION
1983
The Start of a New Relationship

Russell Athletic becomes the official uniform of Little League Baseball and Softball.

1985
Russell Began Trading on NYSE

On December 26, 1985, Russell’s Common Stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Russell began adding other businesses to its portfolio beginning with the acquisition of the Cross Creek Golf brand.

1987
Fortune 500

Russell Athletic is included in the Fortune 500.

1988
Russell Corp. Growth

In June 1988, Russell Corporation consisted of over 10,770 men and women, representing an employment growth of 3,800 over an 8-year period.

1990
BOOMING BUSINESS
RUSSELL ATHLETIC IS RANKED BY FORTUNE MAGAZINE

Russell Athletic is ranked 5th amongst apparel companies by Fortune Magazine in total return to investors over the 10-year period 1986 – 1996.

Russell Corporation becomes part of the Fruit of the Loom family
2006
Russell Corporation becomes part of the Fruit of the Loom family

Fruit of the Loom acquires Russell Corp., now Russell Brands, LLC.

Together We R
2011
Together We R

Russell Athletic launches the “Together We R” campaign to unite all athletes under the spirit of teamwork.

Fight Like Dylan
2012
Fight Like Dylan

Russell Athletic launches “Fight Like Dylan” award contest honoring the life of Dylan Rebeor, a terminally ill player whose last wish was for new equipment for his teammates. Since 2012, Russell Athletic has awarded a $50,000 grant to one high school that has demonstrated perseverance through sports.

Team On
2015
Team On

Russell Athletic launches the “Team On” campaign defending high school team sports in America.

2000
2002
RUSSELL CELEBRATES TURNING 100

In May 2002, Russell celebrated its 100th anniversary. While the brand has evolved from its early origins in Alexander City, Alabama, we take pride in our heritage. As a brand entrenched in sports history, Russell Athletic has a focus on innovation, versatility, and quality.

RUSSELL CELEBRATES TURNING 100

2017 AND BEYOND

RUSSELL HAS NEVER FORGOTTEN THAT ITS PRODUCTS ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM. AS WE CELEBRATE MORE THAN 115 YEARS IN BUSINESS, RUSSELL ATHLETIC® LOOKS TO THE FUTURE WITH THE SAME SENSE OF EXCITEMENT AND PURPOSE THAT HAS DRIVEN THE COMPANY SINCE 1902 FROM SWEET HOME ALABAMA.