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Reigning Champ Review: I Tried Their Bestsellers

Disclosure: We received courtesy product from Reigning Champ in exchange for our honest review only. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Matt Gulielmi
Expertise:

Style, Jewelry, Watches, Skincare, Brand Activations

Matt is a NYC-based merchandise planner in the luxury space and moonlights as a retail documentarian through his TikTok blog @retailecology. His fashion career has waltzed through styling for Michigan State's VIM Magazine, translating brand copy into Spanish for cosmetic startups, to managing inventory for some of the biggest retailers in the US. Read full bio.


Published: May 14, 2024
14 min read
Model Wearing Reigning Champ in NYC

“Basics” and poor quality seem to go hand-in-hand nowadays. Just because a piece of apparel is simple doesn’t mean its construction should be too.

The basics are supposed to serve as the foundation of a man’s wardrobe, but purchasing disposable tees, sweats, and hoodies is like building a house on sand. In this review, I tested a familiar brand, Reigning Champ, to see if their spare-no-expense approach to clothing still holds up.

The Adult Man Image/Icon image source: Reigning Champ
Reigning Champ

Bottom line: Reigning Champ’s name isn’t to be taken lightly, and neither should their made-in-Canada quality. Their terry and jersey fabrics are tough from the get-go but don’t require a lengthy break-in period, and the flat-lock stitching oozes top-notch construction.

Ratings: The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service
Pros:
  • 100% cotton terry is comfortable, durable, and made in Canada
  • Midweight Jersey fabric is among the toughest I’ve felt on a shirt
  • The hoodie’s side panels give it a nice, structured look
Cons:
  • The sweatpant’s fit is too slim for my calves

Unlike most brands I review, I’ve known about Reigning Champ since the day I got sucked into the world of menswear.

It wasn’t through the Canadian brand itself, but the notorious streetwear adjacent, Supreme.

My friends and I were obsessed with Supreme’s hoodies, but it wasn’t because of the attention we’d get stunting in a box logo hoodie. They were warm enough for brisk Michigan days, soft enough to sleep in, and durable enough for our teenage tomfoolery.

They really put a dent in our minimum-wage income hustling deliveries at Jimmy John’s or caddying at the local country club.

Instead of paying the Supreme Tax, can we get right to the source?

Our fixation led us through every fashion blog on the web. Then, we discovered CYC Design Corp., Reigning Champ’s parent company, was manufacturing these pullovers inviting mile-long queues outside of every Supreme flagship.

Supreme’s quality has been in a tailspin since the New York skate brand got its first taste of venture capital money. I never got to give Reigning Champ the shot it deserved, so I grabbed four pieces of their Canadian-made basics to finally discover what I’d been missing.

What Is Reigning Champ?

Reigning Champ Packaging

Reigning Champ wasn’t Craig Atkinson’s foray into the apparel game. The Vancouverite was honing his craft since 1996 with CYC Design Corp., a wholesale apparel producer with a knack for heavy-duty terry fabric.

The unrelenting craftsmanship of CYC Design Corp. has inked private-label manufacturing for industry giants like Supreme and Arc’teryx. Atkinson sought more creative ownership in his endeavors, and Reigning Champ was born in 2007.

Since gracing the racks of over 130 points of sale worldwide, they’ve become a cult classic among those with a love for sports, streetwear, and the spirit of the 1990s.

If their $50,000 Home Court Arcade Basketball Game doesn’t tell you about their die-hard disciples, I don’t know what will.

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Reigning Champ’s apparel lineup includes knitwear, shirts, outerwear, pants, and accessories. They frequently partner with other brands on limited-run capsule drops, with previous collaborators including Prince, Adidas, Junya Watanabe, and Major League Soccer.

With such a reverence for quality, Reigning Champ stands by their product guarantee. If a customer isn’t satisfied with their purchase or spots a defect upon arrival, the brand offers replacements or refunds on any item (at their discretion).

Things to Consider Before Buying

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie Reaching

It doesn’t take a trained eye to spot Reigning Champ’s athletic personality, but the brand is very much a lifestyle brand more than it is a performance apparel company.

For a seasoned marathoner, their heavyweight terry could be too cumbersome compared to minimalist running thermals.

Reigning Champ is also a premium brand. Their apparel is made in Canada using the best materials they can find, so don’t be surprised to find sweats for $130+.

My Hands-On Review

Midweight Terry Classic Hoodie

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie Pulling Up Hood

So the time has finally come where I can join in on the Reigning Champ fanfare, or be a detractor.

Everything I ordered was packed firmly inside of a branded paper folio—A potent reminder of Reigning Champ’s premium pedigree.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Fabric Interior

Despite the name, I think the Midweight Terry Classic Hoodie is most people’s idea of a heavyweight hoodie. The exterior has a smooth, flat texture, and the other side presents the soft terry weave.

The terry’s raised weave gives the fabric most of its volume. It’s very soft, but not like a microfiber blanket, moreso a luxury towel. It’s noticeably softer after a few washes and I love the robust feel compared to my poly blend hoodies.

The side panels and stitching are what take it into the upper echelon of pullovers.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie Rear Stitching

Other hoodies I own are put together with hidden stitches, meaning two panels are pinched together and sewn, thus hiding the thread but leaving a spine of fabric on the inside.

Reigning Champ uses a flatlock stitch, and while exposed, it feels a lot stronger while giving off the retro aesthetic the brand is known for. The lack of raised fabric on the inside is noticeably more comfortable too.

I’m 195 pounds 6’1” and went with a large. I would normally size up on a slim-fit garment, but hoodies are naturally forgiving compared to tailored pieces, so I went true-to-size.

The slim fit was easily felt on the first wear. It fits perfectly in the length, sleeves, and shoulders, but there wasn’t as much room around the torso as I’m used to.

That’s where the side panels come into play. A regular hoodie has two sewn panels that make up the body, but Reigning Champ’s has an adaptive panel that runs down either side.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie Side Label

If I were to order another hoodie, I would go with their classic fit. However, the side panels make the hoodie easy to move around in while providing a structured look overall.

My heather grey hoodie is about as basic as it gets, but the fitted look, rib-bound front pocket, and stitched outside label add an element of luxury that allow me to dress it up. For a hoodie that’s ~$150, that versatility justifies the price tag.

While it’s a bit snug around the torso, I can’t say it’s a flaw. That’s just how the slim fit wears on my frame. The 100% cotton fabric combines comfort and durability unlike any pullover I’ve worn.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie Sitting on Bench

I wouldn’t count on the stitching ever failing, and the side panels elevate the silhouette over standard, droopy hoodies. Throw on the branded details, and there’s no competition.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Classic Hoodie

Reigning Champ’s hoodies have been on my radar for over a decade, and the Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie exceeds my long-standing expectations. If you’re looking for a hoodie that delivers on style, durability, and made-in-Canada quality, it runs laps around most other hoodies I’ve worn.

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Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant Walking

My Reigning Champ hoodie review resulted in quite the accolade, and their Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant was next on my hitlist.

I’m sure they’d be just as great, right? The material and stitching are the same, not to mention the surgical attention to quality.

The midweight terry fabric has just as much substance and softness as it did on the hoodie, and the flatlock stitches feel smooth through the leg.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant Sitting

The waistband can make or break a pair of sweats, especially for a guy like me with more to love around the waist.

It’s beefy, both in width and thickness, but not enough to feel bulky. I was worried the wider dimensions would double over, but the added material helps keep it in place.

You might love the storage situation, or you might think it’s “meh.” For me, two side pockets and an open rear pocket is fine for a casual pair of sweatpants. If you prefer zippered pockets commonly found on performance sweatpants, these lack the same security.

A slim-fit top can be hit or miss. I’m either left with a dashingly sleek shirt or one that looks vacuum-sealed to my body. Slim fitting pants have rarely left me with something I’m in love with.

Sadly, it was the latter. I ordered a size large, and the waist, inseam, and thigh were on point. Reigning Champ designed the Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant with a “modern tapered leg”, but I found the taper to be dramatic.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant Cuff

Keeping in mind that I have thick legs, I wasn’t expecting lots of room, but my calves are touching fabric at all times. It doesn’t look the best, nor is it the most comfortable.

On the flipside, the leg cuffs do a great job of keeping the pants stable. If I’m seated, my legs will be crossed. I rarely have to pull these down after standing up again.

The Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant costs over $120. I’ve paid more for “luxury” joggers that feel like tissue compared to these, and Reigning Champ’s feels far nicer going off of feeling alone.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant Label

While the fit wasn’t ideal, I’m still rooting for the Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant. I see myself buying another pair in the future and opting for the classic fit instead. In terms of this specific style, they’re perfect for slimmer gents who want sweatpants with comfortable, natural materials and durability that’s hard to come by.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant

The Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant probably looks best on guys with a thinner build than mine, but they’re still a better value than any other sweatpant I’ve bought. Between the waistband, cuffs, and fabric, Reigning Champ’s dedication to quality resonates in every detail. 

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Midweight Terry Short 6”

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short 6 Tying Drawstring

The Midweight Terry Short is made of Reigning Champ’s famous terry fabric, so as you can probably surmise at this point, I’m pleased.

Terry shorts wouldn’t be my first pick for running shorts, nor are these explicitly for exercise, but I had to test them out during this rare March heat wave New York has experienced.

The shorts kept up with me even after a few miles. The wide leg opening provides plenty of airflow, which as we all know, is a welcomed quality whether or not you’re active.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short 6 Running

If you’ve ever suffered through tightness and chafing near the groin, these shorts have enough room to avoid any of it. Like the Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpants, I went with a size large, and the classic was roomy without looking baggy.

The 6” inseam was the right choice, too. I can’t stand the look of below-the-knee shorts, and anything shorter than 5” starts looking like a European bathing suit.

These shorts have the same pocket arrangement as the sweatpants as well—two side pockets and an open back pocket. 

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short 6 Drawstring

I had to use a phone strap as anything valuable would be joyriding without a seatbelt, figuratively speaking. The smooth fabric and open pockets allow stuff to fly out just as easy as they’re tucked inside.

Reigning Champ doesn’t advertise this as a feature, but these shorts rarely smell. Between the fabric thickness and its cotton makeup, I haven’t noticed any lingering odors. If you’ve finished an intense cardio session in synthetic workout shorts, you know how quickly they can stink.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short 6 Side

Even though the Midweight Terry Short is my first terry/fleece short, I’ll venture to say that comparable quality can’t be found from other brands.

The roomy fit makes sizing uncomplicated and the 6” inseam offers the modern aesthetic I look for in shorts. While the cotton fabric is substantial, I didn’t notice any heat trapping.

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short Label
Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short 6”

The Midweight Terry Short has all of the soft, durable goodness of Reigning Champ’s fabric, only in a breezier format. They’re ideal for guys who want long-lasting terry shorts that have muscular thighs or a stockier frame.

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Midweight Jersey T-Shirt

Reigning Champ 2 Pack Midweight Jersey T Shirt Standing

I can tell you from the jump that the Midweight Jersey T-shirt could be the most detailed tee I’ve come across.

Have you or a loved one suffered from an embarrassing case of bacon-collar?

Neither of you are entitled to financial compensation, but I can faithfully prescribe these tees from Reigning Champ. The ribbed collar is rock steady and rests firmly around the lower neck, even after several washes.

Reigning Champ 2 Pack Midweight Jersey T Shirt Collar

And the 100% cotton fabric? Well, it’s up there with the highest quality t-shirt material I’ve felt, but that’s because I prefer a heavier weight. Those tough flat-lock stitches are also in attendance.

I don’t think it’s the best undershirt, but I didn’t buy it to be one. If you like thin, airy tees that tuck neatly under a button-up, the hefty fabric will feel restrictive. As a standalone shirt, the heavy weight drapes on its own and doesn’t cling to curves.

The boxy fit is also to thank for that. This is not by any means a slim-fitting shirt. It’s part of Reigning Champ’s “classic fit”.

Reigning Champ 2 Pack Midweight Jersey T Shirt Fit

I normally wear a large shirt, but I opted for a medium for more definition around the arms and chest. The arms, chest, and torso still left me with room around these features.

The fit lends itself to the brand’s 90s basketball persona. I think it looks good, but it’s far from a muscle tee.

Reigning Champ 2 Pack Midweight Jersey T Shirt Sleeve

While they’re relatively minimalist tees, a couple hallmarks of the brand can be spotted.

Almost all of Reigning Champ’s labels are attached with contrasting threads visible from the outside. It’s easily spotted on the white tees I picked up, but if you’re not as fond of the detail, the black 2-pack is the only option with matching stitches.

Reigning Champ 2 Pack Midweight Jersey T Shirt Rear Stitching

The Midweight Jersey Tees feature the miniature logo patch that all of their garments do. It’s out of the way yet a subtle nod to Reigning Champ devotees.

Two shirts will run you around $120. I haven’t found tees with the same structure, strength, or details from the mall or big-box stores, so the cost doesn’t phase me. This is the kind of single-color shirt that doesn’t depend on the surrounding garments to make it cool. It’s in a league of its own.

Reigning Champ Midweight Jersey T-shirt

The Midweight Jersey Tees have set the bar for my t-shirt criteria—durability, craftsmanship, details, the whole nine yards. Throw in the fact that you get two? A must try for anyone who loves heavyweight tees. Call me a Reigning Champ bandwagoner, I don’t care. 

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What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Short 6

Reigning Champ doesn’t host native reviews on their website, but poking around other websites reiterate what I always suspected: Their quality is second to none.

The Midweight Terry Short gets shining reviews. One customer shares that the fabric is only marginally thicker than the lightweight version, and that they’re not too warm for summer wear.

For the Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie, I spotted a few sour testimonies regarding a snug fit, but that’s just personal preference. Not one did I spot a complaint about quality or poor craftsmanship.

The 2-Pack Midweight Jersey T-Shirt was the only product that had a considerable amount of opposing thoughts. Most reviewers agree they’re lost-lasting shirts, but some don’t like the branded details and others find the stitched label to be itchy.

Reigning Champ Alternatives

TRUWEAR

TRUWEAR white polo with workout shorts

If you’re excited about Reigning Champ’s quality but their straightforward construction turns you away, TRUWEAR is hyper-engineered gear for casual and professional events alike.

Despite only being founded in 2019, they’ve amassed a wide assortment of tech-infused pants, polos, button-ups, hats, socks, and loungewear.

Take their Prodigy Dress Pants, for example. To the naked eye, they seem like everyday office armor, but in reality they’re a liquid-repelling, stain-resisting, machine-washable trousers that won’t rip on the dance floor.

TRUWEAR

TRUWEAR launched their first line of performance menswear designed for the office just last year. Even as a new brand, their focus on the details results in comfortable, flexible menswear that keeps up no matter how active your lifestyle.

Shop Truwear Read Our Review

Rhone

rhone comfort first joggers

Rhone and Reigning Champ share an admiration for competitiveness.

However, Rhone is the better option if you’re serious about your fitness regimen.

They have plenty of casual options, but in our review, we were impressed with their athletic apparel. Whether you’re looking for new jackets, workout tees, or training shorts, they’ll all feature important technical details like zippered security pockets, moisture-wicking fabric, or compression lining.

lululemon

Lululemon at ease joggers in teal on model 1

lululemon shouldn’t need an introduction, but I recommend them if you like to do all your shopping in one place.

The dudes I see at the office? They’re wearing lululemon. My friends at the gym swear by it. Hell, years ago I worked a shift on fry duty, attended a wedding after work, and never took off my Black ABC Pants through all of it.

Even though the name’s synonymous with downward dog, lululemon is one of the best brands where you can add trendy casual wear, performance athletic gear, and stylish swimwear all to the same cart.

lululemon

lululemon activewear is quite pricey, but the style, fit, and features are among the best I’ve ever tried. I definitely recommend lululemon if you want multipurpose clothes that you can wear to the gym and for more casual, relaxed days out, because they’re both functional and stylish.

Shop lululemon Read Our Review

My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • Whether the format is a short, sweatpant, or hoodie, Reigning Champ’s midweight terry fabric balances durability and comfort unlike anything else I’ve reviewed.
  • Flat-lock stitching and high-quality ribbing demonstrate the brand’s made-in-Canada craftsmanship.
  • I rarely spring for slim-fitting hoodies, but the Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie drapes nicely while accentuating my arms, chest, and shoulders.
  • Both the Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant and the Midweight Terry Short have a thick, secure waistband.
  • The Midweight Terry Short is surprisingly breathable for a warm fabric like terry.
  • Having reviewed pricier tees made with less care, the 2-Pack Midweight Jersey T-Shirt is a great deal.

What I Don’t Like

  • The fit of the Midweight Terry Slim Sweatpant feels far too trimmed around the calves.

Who Is Reigning Champ For?

Reigning Champ is for the guy who’s willing to pay for the best of everything.

Stuff made in North America isn’t cheap anymore, but anyone demanding a reliable product should be willing to pay the extra cost.

I keep hounding on quality, but you can count on a Reigning Champ purchase for years. And based on their manufacturer’s guarantee, they do too.

The Verdict

My 14-year-old self was scraping Google for Reigning Champ sales and checking Youtube monthly for new reviews.

I always wanted a hoodie from them, and the Midweight Terry Pullover Hoodie didn’t disappoint. It’s a soft-spoken piece by itself, but once in hand, the stitching, terry fabric, and small branded detailing announce that made-in-Canada excellence from the rooftops.

Surprisingly, I’ve been wearing the Midweight Terry Short the most. I basically live in them. The terry fabric feels glorious on a short, and I simply never restricted them thanks to the looser fit.

12 years later, I’ve finally got my hands on some Reigning Champ, and it confirmed what teenage me already knew: The hype is real.

Reigning Champ

Reigning Champ’s name isn’t to be taken lightly, and neither should their made-in-Canada quality. Their terry and jersey fabrics are tough from the get-go but don’t require a lengthy break-in period, and the flat-lock stitching oozes top-notch construction. 

Shop Reigning Champ