What makes a quality sweatshirt?

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Sweatshirts vary hugely in price, from £20 at a fast-fashion brand to well over £200 from a specialist Japanese maker

And even though the price difference is that large among brands we cover - say Merz b Schwnen at £130 and The Real McCoy’s around £180 - that’s a big percentage difference.

So what accounts for it? What goes into a good sweatshirt and what should you spend your money on?

It’s not an easy area, most obviously because the choice between a finer and coarser material - unlike with suits or shirts - is a rather subjective one. 

French terry: The fabric

Let’s start with the basics. Sweatshirt material is what’s referred to as French terry (different from plain terry, associated with towelling and perhaps towelling shirts). It has a soft pile on the outside and small loops on the inside. The latter is referred to as loopback (different to loopwheel, which is a particular, circular method of knitting). 

Some of the cheapest sweatshirts are not French terry - they are simple jersey, like a T-shirt. “To be honest, I wouldn’t even call this a sweatshirt,” says one maker I talked for this piece. “It’s just a long-sleeved tee.”

French terry is made from multiple layers of yarn, and has that soft and stretchy, yet substantial and dense feeling you associate with a sweatshirt, but don’t with a tee. It’s the kind of basic difference you can feel quite easily. 

Although the back of some sweatshirts (good and bad) is brushed to make them softer and warmer, you can still see the loops of material, just fluffier (below).

Pure cotton: The fibre

Some cheap sweatshirts are also partly synthetic, such as polyester. This is pretty much always a money-saving move and should be avoided. 

As with the point above about T-shirt v sweatshirt material, you know the difference between the two in terms of how they feel, as you probably own outerwear that is synthetic. You don’t really want that in something soft like a sweatshirt. 

You do find polyester in some highly regarded sweatshirt brands such as Camber, the American workwear brand. I own a Camber hoodie and it’s great - the material is so tough it’s basically outerwear, and is often too hot to wear indoors. 

But the same effect can be achieved with pure cotton, it just has to be woven more densely. Something like the Ball Park sweats from The Real McCoy’s are like that - the outer layer of yarn is woven to be tougher and more wind-resistant. That’s also the reason why Camber sweats are so much cheaper, and more used for actual workwear. 

Loopwheel and not: The knitting

Loophweel (above) is an old-fashioned method of knitting that was used for all sweats in the 1950s and earlier. It knits particularly slowly, with vintage ones the slowest of all, making only about one metre of fabric an hour. This creates a low fabric tension, which is why loopwheel knits always feel more stretchy and open. 

Being loopwheeled is a general sign of quality, but it also creates a specific type of knit, which not everyone wants for every design. If you want a denser sweat, as mentioned above, then you might want to a slightly more modern machine. 

These would still knit in a tubular fashion however, and as a result have no side seams. Like loopwheel, this is also a fairly useful rule of thumb for quality.                                                                                         

There’s also reverse weave, which is best known for Champion sweats and was created to reduce shrinkage in length. That’s less of an issue today though, and with old pieces the more significant factor is usually the dramatic size of the body and sleeve.

Balance and character: The layers

As mentioned earlier, aspects of cotton that we’re used to from smarter clothing - fineness, staple length - aren’t necessarily useful guides with sweatshirts. If you used a very fine cotton on a sweat, you’d end up with something that was quite light and silky, which probably isn’t what you want. Great vintage pieces also use both types. 

However, there is something subtle with sweatshirt material, which is that different yarns are used for the surface, an intermediate layer, and the back. These are varied depending on what effect you want - for example, it’s only the surface layer that you make denser to get that tough, weather-resistant layer we talked about above. 

“Essentially, a cheap sweatshirt will be made out of the same yarn on at least two layers,” explains a designer I spoke to. “They do this because it’s cheaper - they only need one type of yarn, and can buy it in larger volumes.”

A high-end sweat will play with those layers to get a different effect. The outer layer creates the visual effect and the feel, the hand. The middle layer is about volume, and preventing twisting. The underside is about volume too, but also softness on the skin, and warmth retention.

Different sweats will have different combinations - and this is the point that differentiates a lot of high-end sweats, as well as types from a single brand. 

Still, all cheaper sweats that use the same yarn throughout will have a similar feel: flat, without any body or density. Someone technical people would say they have less ‘character’ and you can see what they mean in the rather lifeless handle, like a single piece of pressed-flat material. 

Details: The design and manufacture

Then there are numerous little manufacturing points, such as flatlocked seams and the make of the collar, where the aim is normally to stop it stretching out over time. 

The ‘V’ shape on the front, and sometimes back, of the sweatshirt was intended to allow it to stretch while not affecting the collar, as well as to absorb sweat. Some people also love an extended cuff, which on a brand like Spalding finishes in a point up the inside seam. 

Most of these I'd put down to design preference, however, and on Permanent Style it’s probably important to emphasise that you shouldn't focus on quality to the exclusion of design, such as length, body fit and collar height. 

I love the quality of my Ball Park sweatshirt, but the prime reason I prefer it to my old Merz ones is the body length, which is that much shorter (and shrinks a little after the first wash). The body fit and high hood are the things I like most about my Camber. 

What would I buy?

Alongside those sweats from Real McCoy’s, Merz b Schwanen and Camber, I own ones from Loopwheeler, Toys McCoy and RRL, as well as vintage pieces from the 1980s (Champion) and 1950s. In the past I’ve owned Warehouse, Cushman and of course various cheaper brands when I was younger. 

My favourites are probably Real McCoy’s and Warehouse, with the difference largely being the point of balance between layers, rather than an obvious quality one. Warehouse feels a little softer and spongier to me, and I find I prefer the McCoy’s mix, so I sold my Warehouse. My Ball Park grey is the one I wear the most. 

I love the Loopwheeler hoodie I bought in Japan, but find the body is longer than ideal. Conversely, I have a RRL crewneck that I love, but for the colour of the melange and the exaggerated body fit. 

If I were advising a reader, I’d say pay towards the top end of the range, because you need very few sweatshirts - I wear my grey five times as much as any other - and because it’s a small difference in price. 

But I'd repeat two points about not focusing too much on quality:

- Just as much difference is between types of sweats - weight, balance, brushing, fineness - as it is anything objective that could be called quality, so you may just prefer a particular feel.

- Fit and style will always be more important, here as in everything. Make sure you put them first.

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Hi Simon,
One more question: I have my eyes on a Real McCoy Ball Park. Being in Canada, I have to order online as nobody carries them here.

Can you describe the fit and sizing?



Hello Simon, you say it is “a little short” – I find it extremely short. Do you only wear it with high waist trousers?

Oliver Price

I’ve got sweats from The Real McCoy’s, PWVC, Merz B Schwanen and Sunspel, and I totally agree with you re which is my favourite – definitely the Ball Park grey from The Real McCoy’s, closely followed by the same one in blue (recently rediscovered at the back of a cupboard and getting lots of wear ever since).

Oliver Price

Yes, I’m always really careful to wash mine cold and re-shape them before they dry.


Which size do you wear please Simon? Medium?


Simon, one more question regarding the schrinkage of the Ball Park. Does it shrink only in the length, or does it shrink as well in the width?
I’m tall, 187cm, but rather slim. The M would fit me better at the chest but then the length would be too short.


Sorry, Simon, maybe I was not clear but I seem to be in between sizes:
Looking at the measurements of their website the M should fit me well in the chest but I fear the length would be too short as I am rather tall with long arms.
The L should do fine in the length but it would be too wide at the chest, hence my question if I should expect some shrinkage at the width so I could choose an L (now I know I shouldn’t)
As usual, thank you for your quick response.

Wouter de Clerck

I purchased my Ball Park sweater at The Armoury in New York and absolutely love it for the reasons mentioned in the article.
Would like to add a navy to the grey I already have but unsure about deliveries (DDU) to the Netherlands. Does anyone have experience of this that they can share? Thanks.

Peter Hall

So true about fit. I have a champion sweat,which is lovely ,but the body length /arm ratio is a little odd.

Great to see you flagging Camber. Their heavy-duty tees are excellent .
Link for European readers. https://www.camber.de/collections/hoodies-sweater?page=2


It’s the wrong Camber I guess…


Sorry Peter, I don‘t think that‘s the Camber mentioned by Simon. Camber USA differs from the german brand with the same name and is sadly quite hard to get a hold of in EU (if you don‘t want to order directly from the States). Beige Habilleur carries Camber USA: https://www.beige-habilleur.com/en/61_camber-usa?orderby=date_upd&orderway=DESC


Hi Simon. Hip store carries some also. I managed to pick up a zip front hoodie with their thermo or thermal (not sure what they call it) lining.

Not a luxury make by any means but such a stiff, resilient fabric!


I’m afraid that’s a different, inferior brand called Camber you’re linking to…

Peter Hall

Sorry all.
Another lesson learnt .I’ve just cancelled an order. Dangers of online .

Thanks for your help,folks.


Hi Simon,

I own sweats and hoodies (both
grey and navy) by The Real McCoys and feel it’s worth paying a bit more for things that will last and age well.



Hi Simon,
Thanks for this interesting article. I always enjoy the slightly more technical pieces that gently enhance my knowledge. I do think the range in price at the upper end is not always wholly justified and driven a bit by brand identity , but your insight was helpful.
I think we are in agreement that the choice is quite subjective and mainly dependent on usage including wear and tear.
I wasn’t aware of Camber. They appear to strike a good balance between style and hardiness. I’ll likely give them a try in my favourite grey
Thanks again.


Thanks for the advice on sizing Simon, much appreciated. I was thinking in terms of wearing as outerwear, based on the article.


Completely agree on the Real McCoy’s ballpark sweatshirts and hoodies. They have recently released an even heavier weight version using a sinker weave that’s easily my favourite now.

Funny you mention the Warehouse ones. I loved the fabric but the cut was always odd. Very short on the back and slightly longer on the front.


I didn’t know/realize that all ball park sweats were sinker woven, thanks for pointing it out.
McCoy’s also made a loop wheeled hoodie a year or so ago that was cotton on the outside and wool on the inside. It wasn’t cheap, but the warmth and comfort are spectacular.


Is there a sweatshirt you would ever consider wearing over an oxford shirt (collar exposed) in a casual setting? Or do you exclusively wear a collarless shirt under your sweatshirts?

Rowan Morrison

This is one of the looks in your weekend capsule, though. Or have you moved on from that?


The article makes mention of A.G. Spalding & Bros. I checked out their Double V “Training Shirt” in grey for $245. Seems to be exactly what Real McCoy Ballpark offers for $162. Do you believe Spalding outpriced itself?


Would you say that your personal style has changed or developed on that front over the past few years? There are a few older articles where you seem to endorse it without caveats or special style considerations. For example the weekend-capsule one.
For the record I agree that an oxford+sweatshirt can look geeky. Though then again, that’s sort of the effect I want, at least when I do it.


This is interesting. I try to avoid that any part of a T-Shirt is visible under a sweatshirt or under crewneck knitwear. I feel it is a little bit like showing your underwear on trousers with a low rise.


interesting that you think that! May I ask why you think a sweatshirt over an Oxford looks geeky or fussy?

is that very personal association driven or do you have a Classic-Crompton rationalisation?
I ask because I’ve found a sweatshirt over an Oxford, with jeans, derbies and a raglan overcoat to be a go to for casual days where i don’t want to think much about what I’m throwing on but want to look put together yet casual.


Maybe a band collar shirt in a very casual cloth would look more natural than an Oxford, don´t you think?


Interesting article. Thank you. Can you tell me what brand the sweatshirt in the first picture is from?


Yes, the red one. Thank you!

Mike Yates

My go to for sweatshirts is Community Clothing they wear like iron and are priced so that I’m not precious about wearing them. I’ve got a couple of vintage Velva Sheen that are pretty decent as well but I’m more careful about where those get worn!


I tried on Community Clothing’s sweatshirts in the London pop-up shops and found the sizing very odd, unwearable in fact. In my experience the sizing is inconsistent and and the online size guides are inaccurate. Unfortunately, there has not been a pop-up for a few years so it’s impossible to know whether the sizing and quality has improved. The company no longer has a contact phone number on its website so you can’t call to discuss orders or sizing.

Another problem is that my sizes are rarely in stock, e.g. selvedge jeans and pea coats. It would appear that stock is very limited and runs out quickly. When you email it, the customer service department generally has no idea when new stock will available. Their Brisbane Moss twill shorts are great but they were dropped last year! The Community Clothing business model is a great one but, due to these issues, I’m reluctant to buy from it again. From what I have read online, other customers have the same opinion.


I saw David Gandy launched a range of sweatshirts etc called Wellwear which also contain an antibacterial treatment. Does anyone have an my views on these products?


I really like the Real McCoys and Buzz Rickson sweatweat, BR being much stiffer and less stretchy.
The Aime Leon Dore New Balance Core Sweats (Made in USA) are also very surprisingly good and unlike RMC and BR they go on sale regularly.

Alex B

I’d also echo Josef’s recommendation of the New Balance sweatshirts from their Made In USA line. I own a couple of them (both crew and hooded), and am very happy with the fit and style. The branding is also pleasingly subtle.


You can even remove the logo after washing the sweater a few times (they are glued, then stitched on). There’s a stitched on outline below the logo aus well, which also can be removed easily. Left no marks for me, either.


Searching for good sweats, I’ve had cheaper ones for a (long) while, ordered Merz’ offerings but those didn’t really match what I was looking for.
About a year ago I ordered a Studio d’Artisan from Japan that really fits my bill, heavy quality, beautiful fabric & very well put together. Just not the color I was looking for, so I took to dyeing my oatmeal SdA a beautiful denim colour. Quite an undertaking I must say but I love the end result!
I also got their kakishibu loopwheel sweatshirt in the meantime. Again great quality & a natural color with great depth. Just don’t wash it with other clothes the first few times :).
Now I’ve got a 10oz dark blue Benzak sweatshirt incoming. Looking forward to this local brand’s quality, their denim is awesome.


I have been hesitating to engage with that but actually it’s ridiculously easy. Natural indigo powder can be bought with the necessary additional chemicals as complete packages, then all you need is a proper bucket, something to stir, and gloves. You will not be using any of those for something else afterwards.

The process itself requires nothing more than a bit of patience, do everything slowly leads to best results. Great activity for a Sunday afternoon. It’s quite magical to take the wet fabric from the indigo vat and see it turn from yellowish-green to blue once it comes into contact with air and reacts with oxygen.

I do hope you’ll try this out for yourself, it will be quite rewarding.

Felix Sylvester Eggert

Hey Simon, I would really like to know about the result if you’re ever brave enough to try it yourself, maybe worth a post?

Sounds like quite some fun and highly rewarding. Thanks also to you Dirk for your input.


Another option for people looking to get stuff dyed. https://www.buaisou-i.com/indigodyeservice
They are an indigo dyer in Japan who can dye for you. Really only makes sense if you’re buying something from Japan. You can have it direct shipped to Buaisou, get it dyed and then have them ship to you. I had an Auralee hoodie and a Loopwheeler crewneck dyed by them and it turned out very nice.


Hi Simon,

Thanks for the article, there’s so much more to a sweatshirt than I thought. I’m still slightly confused, what is the difference for example between Real McCoy’s Ball Park and their 10oz loopwheel ?


And the advantage of a denser sweatshirt is that it’s warmer / more wind resistant?


I have a hoodie from Asphalte which I really like and feels good. It’s 100% cotton, interior is brushed so it’s quite cosy. It is perhaps a little slim on me but unusually it has rib knit side panels allowing for greater stretch in the sides when turning. It’s a nice detail and I’ve noticed it a bit, though not massively.
For regular sweatshirts I find the V-stitch almost essential for the looks. I think I would (especially in grey) almost always opt for one with that detail.
I’m aware of s/s sweatshirts and ones with chest pockets but they feel too sporty for me.


I’ve also purchased a few Asphalte items and have been similarly impressed by the quality. The Ultimate Jeans in a raw Japanese selvedge denim and the Perfect Jumper in a dense “milano knit” merino wool. The Jeans are a good fit for me as a tall man and the jumper is very durable and machine washable and has become a regular wear. I’m not a hoody wearer but I did notice the details when they marketed it. Good to hear that the side panel innovation is also a function detail – if they carry this through to a sweatshirt I will give it a go. Have you tried their sweatshirts?


I think you raise interesting points to differenitate between the cheaper v more expensive items .
But I suppose for me on the issue of an item with what at first appears such a huge price differential I would ask

  • will the £200 last 10x as long as the £20
  • will the £200 look better 10x longer
  • can I quantify 10x the quality

I would add maybe it’s better to take a ‘reference product’ (e.g. M&S sweatshirt or even SuitSupply ), as M&S are often the purveyor of high street ‘value’).
Rather like when reviewers critique HiFi they will often critique it against a reference speaker or amplifier etc.
I just think sometimes we need a better measure / comparator.


If polyester is more durable than cotton, why is it dismissed as low quality in the article? Isn’t durability a if not the primary dimension of “quality?” The article itself distinguishes “objective” quality from presumably non-objective characteristics such as “particular feel” and “fit and style.” So what constitutes objective quality if not durability? And on what basis, then, is polyester something that “should be avoided” and loopwheel knitting a “general sign of quality?”


I did read it again—the whole article, in fact. In it, you distinguish “anything objective that could be called quality” from “a particular feel.” You insist that “fit and style” come before quality. And you do not mention aging.
Now you say, in what seems like a direct contradiction to the above excerpts, that feel, look (which, presumably, relates to fit and style) and aging are all aspects of quality after all.
So perhaps you can see how I could be uncertain about just what it is you mean by quality and why, in my confusion, I’d hone in on durability, which seems the primary characteristic most people would associate with “objective” quality.
But I’ve clearly neglected facetiousness for rigor.


or just add durability as a separate point, while having some kind of reference point and let people decide what they value more? I think once you did something a bit similar. (if you’re not ready to handwash this item, better look somewhere else)
as in item a is much more luxurious than item b, but will last a lot less when cared the same way? choose what you want, luxury or durability.
item a is much more luxurious than item b, but will last a little bit less when cared same way. I think most people would be happy to pay more for that.

for example when handling real McCoy loopwheel sweatshirts, they seemed very very soft and luxurious.
so if I care about them same way as about your t-shirt, should they last longer? less? same? (no tumble dryer, but 40* wash high spin)

interesting that from real McCoy sweatshirts, most are size too small for me, one or 2 models has massive size difference between biggest sizes, and one or 2 models Im thinking about ordering…


Hi Robin,
Interesting you mention M&S. I feel much of their casual clothing and some formal shirts seriously underrated. Whilst they may not be Real McCoys standard, they offer reasonably priced alternatives. As a company I also feel they are a bit undervalued. For example their ‘No plan B’ environmental initiative was well ahead of many others and I felt sincere (ie not greenwashing), as well as customer care and how they treat their staff. I would have mentioned them in the recent PS awards, but didn’t think it was a contextual fit and also I didn’t want to appear disrespectful to the awards.


For me, the comparison of how long will it last vs price is largely irrelevant. That’s not to say I don’t look for value in the things I buy, but quality wins over price every time.

I would rather pay 10x more for a garment that is well designed, made by craftsmen (or at least by people being paid a living wage), and that is made from responsibly sourced materials that contain no harmful substances. It’s also important that the factories are run in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. I also prefer if an item has been made locally in my country or continent, than shipped thousands of miles around the Earth.

There is a reason why some clothes are cheap. I think the difficulty comes because price isn’t always a reliable marker for quality. That’s why I really appreciate this site and the information presented here. It has helped me look past branding and marketing and to see what quality and value actually mean.


Most informative. I knew hardly any of that. Thank you.
I have hardly any sweatshirts, generally preferring some kind of knitwear in most situations. Even with jeans I seem to edge towards a crew neck jumper (lambswool, merino or cotton) above a sweatshirt. However, I certainly like the look of the McCoys Ball Park version. In fact, in general what most appeals for all sweatshirts is that classic sporty mid grey in a substantial looking cotton.
One thing you didn’t mention is the raglan vs inset sleeve debate. Any feelings on this? For me it’s the raglan sweatshirts that seem more fitting – perhaps because they reinforce a distinction from the majority of crew neck sweaters.


In the 70’s we wore Champion “reverse weave”. Easily found on eBay. Look for “Made in USA”. Won’t break the bank. Unaware how they compare to brands mentioned above or “loop wheel” but “reverse weave” was the gold standard.


I’ve owned a number of The Real McCoy’s and currently have maybe 4 or 5 sweats from them.
Aside from what you mention I also love how they fade. Similar to a Reigning Champ hoodie I beat up to/from the gym for many years you get that beautiful lightening around the cuffs and hem – hopefully the right terms!


Hi Simon,
thanks for the Wednesday morning read 🙂
sorry if I missed it but where is your green sweatshirt from?


I can strongly recommend Good Measure. They were set up for the purpose of creating high quality sweatshirts. https://www.goodmeasure.co.uk


Very insightful article Simon. What brand is the navy hoodie with the crew neck (the one below the loopwheel photo)?


I own two sweatshirts from Asket (grey and navy). It is probably their best article (I also like the T-Shirts), 380g, 100 percent long-staple cotton, unbrushed loopback. The price (EUR 95) is hard to beat for this quality.


I love these types of pieces. I always thought there was a distinction between Loopwheel and French Terry but I guess not? Loopwheel is a different way of weaving French Terry? Is my understanding correct? Same with a sinker weave?

Second, I’m a bit surprised you like the McCoys ballpark sweatshirt just because I imagine it would get really short based on the measurements on the website if it shrunk an inch in length. They look like they are about the same length as my Huckberry branded French Terry sweatshirt (cheaper US Brand but I like it) before being washed, and I consider that to be a bit short on me, and I’m only 5’9. Perhaps you are more leg than torso? I do agree the shorter length looks better than some longer brands like Reigning Champ, but I dont like when it is so short it shows my stomach when I raise me arms. Anyways great piece always like to learn something new about pieces I wear regularly.


I understand the difference between loopback and Loopwheel, my confusion was I thought Loopwheel was a different “material” than French Terry altogether. My past research on sweatshirts lead me to believe you had basically three materials, fleece (generally the lowest end but some mid range stuff), French Terry (mid range stuff generally, but some high end as well), and then Loopwheel (high end stuff). I have heard of sinker as well and I thought that was just a more obscure high end material. I use material for lack of a better word coming to mind at the moment but I think you understand what I mean.


Exactly I understand now. Thanks!


I was won over by crewneck sweatshirts thanks to a picture of Tony Armstrong-Jones aka Earl Snowdon.
Prior to the photo below, Sweatshirts were always an oddity I never could quite get behind.
Since seeing the effortless elegance wearing one plainly, I’ve moved on and become a big fan of them.

They really are some of the only pieces I find myself always in the market for. Suitable for lounging, active wear, socialising and even with a suit when I feel collegial.

As a Scandinavian, my love for sweaters is a matter of survival. Vintage ones, such as my father collection of Levis, are of particular appreciation for me.


Simon I have you to thank for putting me on to Clutch Cafe, they’ve got a great range of sweats. Fit really is everything and for me Cushman can’t be beaten, I practically live in theirs. If only they did that red one in XXL…….


For me, a sweatshirt is just a utility item that will be worn to destruction. As such the cheapest 100% cotton sweat that fits properly is sufficient. I don’t see any point going beyond that.


Simon, the sweatshirts that you wear and are talking about certainly have fancy prices. Some are over £200, a lot of money for a so-called “utility” garment. Such prices are charged by expensive fashion brands with high mark-ups. Those on average salaries can’t afford them.


Hello Simon,
Maybe it depends on how you use them. I’ve always seen sweatshirts as a fairly nondescript item, wearing them just for sport, gardening and the weekly shop. However, given what you say, I suppose in the spirit of open-mindedness I could give a more expensive one a try to see if the extra seems justified.


Hi simon what’s the difference between a sweatshirt and a tee-shirt? Is it just the weight of the shirt?

I like wearing tee shirts under casual jackets in colder weather – like denim truckers, moleskin biker, unstructered sports coats but i find the collar doesn’t always sit right. Will this br rectified with a heavier weight tee/sweatshirt? Or is it just a matter of getting a smaller size in shirt?


More like the material at the neck doesn’t sit completely flush against the neck whrn something like a jacket is worn over the tee.

When does one decide to wear a sweat vs a tee?


Hi simon oh yes like the anthology ones. Do you feel knitted tees sit ok with casual bottoms like army chinos and jeans? Most are marketed as refined tees to be worn with tailoring. I have never owned a knitted tee though but you are right in that the neck opening may sit better than a regular tee when a jacket is worn over


I would be interested in your and the other reader’s opinion on the cushman freedom sleeve sweatshirts. Clutch Café always make it sound very special.


Hi Simon, following up on this point, was there a specific reason you got rid of your Cushman sweatshirts/prefer the McCoys over them? Thanks.


Got it, that’s helpful. Thanks, Simon.


Hi Simon,
I see you mentioned the Ball Park shrinks about an inch after washing. May I ask what size you take?
Thank you!


Thank you!


I’d put in a big plug for American Giant. I don’t know the specifics of the manufacture, but the hand feel, weight, etc is fantastic, and their sweatshirts age well. They are also a really interesting company whose founder has spoken about ideas featured on PS, and I think tell their brand story in a compelling way. Worth a look, maybe a feature in a future article as well.

Tim C

I second the plug for American Giant. Great stuff – very heavyweight (almost outerwear), very well constructed and absolutely do age well. For those in North America, Todd Snyder’s Issued By sweatshirts are also worth a look, especially when they’re on sale (as they frequently are). Not as heavyweight as American Giant, but very sturdy, excellent colors, trim cut but not tight, age well, lots of little details that PS readers would appreciate (front V, for instance), etc.


In your post about the colour of knitwear previously, you mentioned that a good overall starting point for most people would be a navy wool sweater and a grey sweatshirt. But obviously, most people are going to have more than just the 1 sweater and 1 sweatshirt. In the sweater article you said that navy/grey should be the first sweaters to get, followed by dark brown/dark green knitwear. On a similar note, what would you say about sweatshirts? The first is the grey sweatshirt of course, but what others would you recommend and in which order?


I’ve got a couple of PS Paul Smith sweatshirts and they are really hard wearing.

John J

I love mine. Great colour and fit.

I also bought a Jackman Tanabe Meriyasu sweatshirt just after Christmas. It’s very much at the upper end of the price range and even I blanched slightly at spending that much on a sweatshirt. I probably wouldn’t own to paying that much to my parents… But I love its comfort, fit and style, and that their garments are made in Japan. I went for a muted pale green. Wears beautifully with denim and for weekends (or most days, as currently on paternity leave) it’s perfect. It’s tolerated washing very well (you can’t tell a tiny baby to choose a less beloved sweatshirt to posset on and I’m not always as quick with a muslin as I should be). They only have one U.K. shop, in Borough, but are stocked in a few other places and I would definitely recommend checking them out.


1. I guess this piece is in some part also an answer to my question some months ago at the Real McCoy‘s thread, when I asked what is so special about those sweats and you said: „ It’s a bunch of things, including the staple of the cotton, the speed of the making and so on. But in the end does it really matter?“ I now guess it does obviously matter to you or at least to a lot of readers.
2. The neck line on my Merz sweatshirt is a bit wide for my taste and I think it also got bigger. Is the neckline on the RMC sweatshirts higher and more stable? Thank you!

Rowan Morrison

I am looking to upgrade my wardrobe staples with quality brands so I have items that will last and get better with age, rather than fast fashion stuff that I will want to replace after a year or two. For example I have Uniqlo sweatshirts that are only a couple of years old but have started to sag around the openings in the neck and sleeves, which makes them less comfortable than when they were new and also look a little sloppy. I am considering replacing then with Sunspel, as I like the feeling of the material and they aren’t too outrageously priced, and they come in a good selection of colours. Would they be a good option, in your opinion?


I’ll try to describe the sweatshirts I have
my favorite is the Warehouse 2nd hand sweat parka bought from clutch. I believe it is terry but brushed to look like fleece and very soft. The shorter body length and extended cuffs are great too. This the ideal weight for layering under casual jackets or even a raglan coat. I like that this has no strings on the hood.
The other I also warehouse 451 zip hoodie from clutch. Also brushed terry inside but outside is harder (especially after wash) and has more noticeable pilling. However it is a bit heavier and robust, softening with wear.
Warehouse 401 sweatshirt. looser fit and shorter length. material pretty similar to the 451 but I find the fit is a bit too generous in the chest compared to 451
Loop wheeler sweatshirt (unknown model)- very soft like the warehouse 2nd hand. terry (not brushed) inside. Has a little logo attached to the sleeve but I left it on. Slimmer fit than most warehouse in same size.


I don’t follow. If your Warehouse was your favourite, why did you sell it?


Hi Simon, wonderful topic for discussion on PS!

As you have discussed before, collar height is really important on a sweatshirt. The low collar height is the biggest issue I have with the Merz sweats, which are otherwise wonderful. The Real McCoys models seem to generally have a higher collar, but there is variation across their wide range, from what I can see. How do you find the collar height on the Ball Park model? A high collar also keeps a bandana in place and exposes less of it (making it less of a look).

Two small suggestions: 1) not sure if sweatshirts are Manish’s thing, but a detailed comparison of models would be great. Real McCoys alone have about 4 different models for a plain sweatshirt, 2) a PS sweatshirt would be wonderful. Similar to the tapered T, I find it hard to find a model that balances collar height, body length and chest size. The Japanese brands certainly have the best quality, but finding a model that balances all of these is tricky.



As a college student who likes quality clothes, but tends to not dress up a ton because everyone just wears sweats and t-shirts. I tend to gravitate toward my Tracksmith grey sweatshirt that I’ve had for four years now of consistent wear and it still looks and feels amazing. I’m looking to add another plain, heavy sweatshirt or hoodie that wouldn’t look out of place in campus. Does anyone else have experience with Tracksmith or have any other good recommendations?

Robert M

Simon, would you know about any places making MTM sweatshirts? I’ve tried Son of a Tailor, and while I liked them generally and can recommend their t-shirts and merino sweaters, the sweatshirts’ material didn’t appeal. I’m asking because I can’t buy any of the brands you mention – arms too long 🙁


Some days ago I ordered the 10 oz crewneck sweatshirt from McCoy‘s in milk, because the color really appealed to me. Have you found your milk one versatile? Is the 10oz weight (loopwheeled) also a versatile starting point if it is mostly ment for layering?


Hi Simon, do you find the Merz B Schwanen sweatshirt’s neckline lower than the ones from The Real McCoys’s?
Also, could I ask how you set the spinning setting when you wash yours?

Many thanks,


What white t shirt neckline call be seen below a sweatshirt?
Pep Guardiola manages it!

Peter Hall

Will it still be short sleeve,Simon?


I really like the look in the bottom picture where you are walking around the dock area. What shoes (boots?) and jeans are you wearing (I assume jeans are BLA).


If I wanted to buy a loopwheel Navy sweatshirt that fit a little slimmer and could be worn with an oxford underneath – which maker would you suggest?


These seem like sweatshirts for city folk. I buy 3 navy sweatshirts from Uniqlo every year and wear them for work in the field and woods.

Fernando Jamra

Any thoughts on the sweater from Sunspel?


Have you tried the ones from Community Clothing Simon? I am considering one as my next purchase. Made in the UK, Organic cotton and made using the loop wheel method. At £59 they could be a bargain. I do not believe the founder Patrick Grant would put his name to shoddy quality.

Chris B

I wear Merz, UES and Filmelange. The latter is my hands down favourite – the ‘Rolf’ specifically… hard find Filmelange in the UK; I ordered my last direct from Japan. The outer feel is really smooth… in has real inner warmth and softness.

The UES is super heavy and warm – so warm in fact that I have to be careful when I wear it.

Merz are good; I prefer their heaviest cut

Varun Saxena

The Real McCoy has launched a heavyweight sweatshirt. I was wondering what GSM is it? Moreover, their loopwheel ones are a tad bit cheaper. Is it just the weight that is adding up to a higher cost or is it something else?


As mentioned above by another reader, this is an area where Clutch Cafe have taken the reigns for me. I personally have a minor obsession with raglan sleeves – to me, it’s a prerequisite for a flattering, classic sweatshirt – which is probably encouraged by the fact that only the mid to high end brands seem to make them that way now.

So I have a Cushman freedom sleeve (in an unusual faded and subdued turquoise sold as “dark grey” – the mid was sold out), which has a great, shorter fit but is quite slim in the sleeves and torso with an impressive heavyweight fabric. I had been holding out for a restock of the mid grey, until, on a recent trip, I noticed the new Allevol loopwheel sweats. These had everything I wanted: a classic raglan sleeve, a 50s inspired, short, somewhat boxy body and generous sleeve length. The fabric weight is noticeably lighter than the Cushman, so I’ve not been able to wear it on more than a couple of occasions yet. But in terms of design and fit, it’s my platonic ideal. Apparently they’re being snapped up too!

Johannes P

The comments here really piqued my interest in the Cushman freedom sleeve sweatshirt, looking at the measurements on Clutch Cafe’s web page it seems that they run really small, would you say that the measurements there are correct?
I’d basically need a Large in the Cushman (based on the given measurements) which feels strange since I own size Small in Real McCoy’s heavy weight sweatshirt.


Hi, Johannes, I went true to size on the Cushman sweat if memory serves, but they are certainly a closer fit than many other styles – not at all boxy, somewhat cropped on the body and snug around the arms. I tried sizing up in store but it looked worse, and the store manager Ben agreed. The sweats do give a little and break in with wear, so this is also, no doubt, an intentional aspect of the cut.

Lastly, from what I’ve seen of the Real McCoys’ measurements, those are some of the boxiest sweaters going. If you prefer that, I would recommend the Allevol sweats instead


i sized up 1 with cushman, and tbh could have sized up another. but after several washes they broke in, the fabric softened and loosened they feel much more comfortable now.


Regarding the end about not focusing too much on quality, but also considering feel, fit, and style. Through your site, I’ve starting thinking more about what quality means for various items (jeans, sweatshirts, knitwear, chinos, etc.) and what it isn’t (designer logos or brand names). I’ve tried to adjust my purchases accordingly – to timeless pieces that are well made. Simple enough. However, I’m trying to figure out at what point (if it ever does in your opinion) this type of thinking becomes too prohibitive – to think solely about “quality”. I’m referring to casualwear, and not formalwear. I’m all for well made clothing, focusing on classic and timeless pieces, and buying less, but well.

I think I may have been overly dismissive because of my predetermined expectation about the “quality” of an item at the expense of feel, fit, and style. I think this is most apparent in the basic grey sweatshirt. I’ve read online about loopwheel – what it is, how it’s made, and what makes it so special. I’ve got the navy loopwheel sweatshirt from The Real McCoy’s, and it’s great. No complaints. However, when it comes to the grey sweatshirt, it’s a different story. I’ve found that every grey sweatshirt from any of the several Japanese brands that produce loopwheel sweatshirts are all styled in a very particular way across the board – they’re all repro and vintage. It seems a bit costume-y to me and I can’t really see myself wearing them, but the quality is obviously top notch. On the other hand, you’ve got some of the “elevated basics” brands such as Sunspel that also sells a grey sweatshirt. They’re not loopwheel and are made in Portugal as opposed to Japan, but the styling is very basic, clean, and minimal. I’m not an expert on fabrics, but I just dismissed Sunspel because it’s not loopwheel. What are your thoughts? How do you balance quality, feel, fit, and style?


In terms of the grey sweatshirt, what are your opinions on the Sunspel version of the grey sweatshirt all things considered? Do you think it’s a good option?


The question I’m trying to answer isn’t that I don’t want to pay the extra money for a loopwheel sweatshirt though. The problem I’m having is given loopwheel is better quality and the Japanese makers are the best to do it, I don’t particularly like the styling of any of those brands I’ve seen to date. I’ve looked at all the Japanese options that are readily available to me to buy and I would imagine the majority of the Japanese makers at that, minus some very obscure ones I would imagine. The question is should I just buy the Japanese makes because it’s loopwheel and that makes it better quality. Or do I forego some of that quality and go with something like Sunspel that isn’t at that quality level but is more of the style that I would want to wear. If you have any other suggestions or options to look at, let me know.


you know sunspel does a made in japan grey loopwheeled sweatshirt right? comes around on their website every now and then. i’ve cycled through several grey sweats as i wear them loads, and have settled on two. Cushman for a winter weight -> fits repro like you said, but im ok with that. and Orslow for lighter weight -> feels and fits exactly like the sunspel made in japan ones.


I wear Uniqlo and Champion sweatshirt, but in 80s when i was in primary school my mother brought me Russel athletic sweatshirt from US and i loved it. It was much better then those i wear now. Does anyone know are they still any good? Uniqlo is too warm and it looses shape very quick.


Great article Simon,

A relevant one for me, as sweatshirts have become a key part of my daily uniform. I’ve managed to build a small collection of Merz B and a couple from a brand called UES, the latter more comparable to the Ball Park from McCoy’s by the sounds of it, heavier weight, brushed inside.

The one place both fall down slightly, is the length. Just slightly too long for my preferred mid-high rise. So, I’m very tempted to start investing in McCoy’s sweats going forward, as that slightly shorter length seems perfect (along with the typical McCoy’s quality, a nice bonus). You’re usually a good size reference for me as well, which is always handy.

I saw you mention you guys are working on a new tee aimed more at wearing under sweats, knits etc.? Any more information you can provide on this? One thing I’d love to see is a slightly shorter length, to work well with the likes of McCoys slightly shorter sweats etc. My current default, along with the PS tee’s is the Sunspel Riviera, which are great but something a touch shorter would be even better.


Cheers Simon, no worries, I’ll stick with my Sunspel faithfuls in this scenario in that case. However, it sounds like the PS version you have in the works would be ideal for wearing under knitwear? Look forward to them, count me in.

Peter Hall

Just to add to the hive mind.

Dutch company Unrecorded make good Terry sweats. However, this caught my eye whilst browsing.


They do seem to be having a few supply issues as they have a lot of garments out of stock.

They also make very nice off white,ribbed cotton socks for all the Ivy enthusiasts .


Hi Simon, I have just received my Ball Park today and just about to wash and the care label tells me to wash by hand. You mentioned slight shrinkage in the length, how do you wash yours? I would have thought a delicate cycle on a 30 would be suffice. Many thanks…


One of my odd habits! it is quite creased anyway, (from the packing) and I’m thinking about getting the shrinkage out of the way asap. ie start as I mean to go on…
On a side note Simon, do you iron your jeans when you’ve washed them?


Love Remi Relief sweat shirts.


Hi Simon,

Regarding the RMC Ball Park sweatshirt, they seem to have two (or more if hoodies count) under that branding a 12 oz (https://therealmccoys.com/products/12oz-crewneck-sweatshirt?variant=32259960471692) and a 14 oz (https://therealmccoys.com/collections/tops/products/heavyweight-crewneck-sweatshirt-mid-grey?variant=34883802595489). Which one do you refer to here? (I’m wondering how it might feel based on the weight). Thanks.


Hi Simon, have you tried the 14oz? If so, what did you think of ir/ how does it compare to yours? Thanks.


It is indeed, I’ve tried in their Mayfair store (sadly now closed) and it’s significantly heavier than the 10oz loopwheel. I’ve never tried the ball park 12oz though.

What’s also interesting is that the 10oz is tubular knitted from the side, hence no shoulder seems.

Do you also own 10oz sweatshirts Simon ? (Of any brand). Or does 12oz cover all uses and having a lighter one is superfluous ?


Have you tried the Berg & Berg ones?
I have the navy, green and grey ones. They are shorter in the body in order to be wearable with high rise trousers (jeans). They are also raglan sleeved which I think is difficult to find in a sweatshirt nowadays. The neck is also small hence making the neck exposure minimal. I think they look great in an ivy outfit.


Hi Simon,
On the first image what type of “jacket/overshirt/chore coat” is it that you are wearing?


Hi Simon, thanks for the informative article! My favourite sweatshirts of late have been from MHL x Margaret Howell (which are, typically for the brand, a bit oversized), but I’ve always wanted to get a MHL x Loopwheeler sweatshirt from Japan. I also really like the Japanese brand N. Hoolywood, which might be a bit too avant-garde for your tastes, but they do really interesting designs based on vintage sportswear and military clothing. They have done some nice collaborations with Champion using the reverse weave fabric. And I particularly liked their most recent Loopwheeler collaboration. It must be pretty popular in Japan as it seems to sell out quickly.

On another note, I was wondering if you have any suggestions for sweatpants? I used to own a few pairs of Loopwheeler sweatpants a few years ago and they were great, but unfortunately you can’t buy directly through them anymore and my sizing has changed a bit which makes proxying a bit risky (I am in Australia, by the way). Also, I know that you prefer caps with graphics, but don’t suppose you know any good quality plain (no logo) cotton baseball caps (it’s much harder to find than you’d think)?