Warehouse & Co Japan: The history behind their American vintage sweatshirts

Warehouse & Co have long held an enviable reputation for quality and close attention to heritage detail. As part of the famous ‘Osaka Five’, the brand has carved itself a path to vintage-inspired glory since brothers Kenichi and Kenji Shiotani started the company way back in 1995. For 25 years now, Warehouse & Co have been world-renowned for producing hard-wearing, long-lasting, quality garments, with inspiration being drawn from archival pieces and fashions history books. From raw selvedge denim to melton wool varsity wear and the most comfortable sneakers you will ever own. This brand has stuck closely to traditional manufacturing techniques, using vintage machinery to create a design empire that is unfaltering when it comes to quality. 

Although Warehouse & Co is best known for their denim lines, sweatshirts have also been a big part of their signature style since the beginning, replicating American vintage all the way. Warehouse & Co go to every effort to achieve the same features from the past, using loopwheel knitting machines. The loopwheel machine was pioneered in the mid-1920s and later patented in 1926 by Italian Guiseppe Negra. The machines are so rare now they can only be found in two factories in the world, located in Germany (Merz B Schwanen) and Japan. Loopwheel knitting refers to the manufacturing process of the fabric, by using cylinders set up at specific circumferences, the loopwheel machines weave cloth around them, letting the fabric hang and fall from the machine as it knits. The results are a low tension weave creating a denser and softer fabric in a tube-shape that creates the perfect vintage garments with no side seams. The Japanese call it ‘tsuriami ki’ – hanging knit machine.

The 1930s came to be known as the “golden age” of Hollywood. The 1940s were mainly focused on World War II and the 1950s was a decade marked by the post-war boom... a lot happened in these 3 decades but something remained the same, sweatshirts were always a staple item of clothing in every man's wardrobe, with features changing ever so slightly throughout the years to update the look and feel, keeping up with the then modern times.

Warehouse & Co have recreated a sweatshirt to mark each decade using the same loopwheel machines of the time to produce the most authentic garments you can purchase to date. In the 1920s the material used for sweatshirts shifted from wool to cotton and thus marking the new beginning for the iconic sweats we know and love today.


  • Inspired by early 1930s
  • Distinct rib design on the cuff
  • No seams on the shoulder
  • The fit is from when sweatshirts were made of wool

The 467 is a replication from an early 1930s archival piece and reflects a time when sportswear was creeping more and more into a daily dress, and no longer restricted to the track or gym. This is an era that saw traditional sportswear transition from heavy, and uncomfortable wool garments, into a much more breathable all-cotton alternative. The 467 from Warehouse & Co. bridges the gap between these two materials, as the original would have most definitely been made from wool. The brand has instead opted to craft a heritage sweat from 100% cotton, so the wearer gets the iconic vintage shape with the luxurious comfort of loop wheeled cotton. As the garment has been constructed on a vintage flat lock, twin needle machine, it features seams that are much more durable than modern construction would allow. Distinct characteristics on this model are a vintage ‘double v’ insert mirrored on the front and back, no seams on the shoulders to create a relaxed fit, and cuffs that feature a unique, eye-catching cutaway detail which allows for great freedom of movement to let the cuff slip up the arm without losing its shape.


  • 1930s vintage sweatshirt
  • Binding bottom rib
  • Four-needle stitches

The brand's most famous sweatshirt is the 401, with no change to the design for 20 years now, it's simple but rich in detail. It emulates the classic styles from the 1930s, featuring a slightly longer knitted cuff and waistband, a drop shoulder and an iconic double v neck construction. The waistband is cut from a ribbed 100% cotton and was designed to be easily tucked into a pair of flat-front chinos, which were common casual wear of the time. Each v-shaped gusset bears four-needle stitches which serve to distinguish the garment even further and creates a unique patina as the garment is worn and washed over time. Its boxy shape is complemented by the lack of side seams, a feature of the loop-wheel technique which ensures that the shape of the fabric maintains its integrity, and enhances comfort and durability.


  • 1940s vintage sweatshirt
  • Set-in Freedom Sleeve
  • Two-needle

This classic sweatshirt has been a Warehouse & Co signature for more than 20 years. It is luxuriously soft and hard-wearing. The brushed fleece, also known as cotton fleece lined is a reproduction of the heritage fabrics used to distinguish a generation of high-quality American outerwear. The brand modified their machines to achieve a uniquely vintage flat seamed overlocking effect achieved by threading between two needle stitches. They have included a freedom sleeve in this design for ultimate freedom of movement, a design feature that harks back to the mid-century origins of the sweatshirt. The cuffs and waistband are cut a little longer, to allow the cuffs to be easily rolled to fit, and for the waistband to be effortlessly tucked into your trousers in true 1940’s style.


  • The 1940s-1950s sweatshirt
  • Freedom Sleeves
  • Two-needle

The 404 is a sweatshirt to represent the time during the 1940s to the 1950s. This style was invented for athletic wear, allowing maximum movement whilst maintaining a comfortable and cohesive look. One of the main features of this model is specifically designed to enhance that superior range of movement, and comes in the form of a curved seam between the sleeve and the body, also known as the “freedom sleeve”. This style was born at a time when the two-needle sewing technique was king! A striking aspect of this stitching is a one-of-a-kind ageing pattern that will be unique to every wearer, and with longer cuffs and waistband, it provides a relaxed fit for superior comfort. 


  • The 1950s sweatshirt
  • Special Treatment
  • Same yarn as t-shirts

From the ‘2nd hand’ series, the 474 showcases a 1950s shape with period-correct short cuffs and waistband. It is produced using special treatment of laser marking, washing and sun fading to achieve authentic vintage faded colours. Made from the same yarn as the brand's 4601 t-shirts it has been expertly woven providing a beautifully soft, vintage feel cotton to ensure supreme comfort and durability. Unlike the previous eras, the 474 features a single-v insert at the front, giving it that ultimate 1950s feel.


View the Warehouse & Co Japan collection