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Varsity Cotton

We make our Grayboy tees right here in New England. This is why.

Story by Tracksmith September 28th, 2015

T-shirts don’t have to be technical

Grayboys get better with age, so when we decided to start creating our own, we took a pair of well used vintage tees to Draper Knitting in Canton, Massachusetts and asked them to help us recreate the feel of these shirts. With Draper’s headquarters being just an hour from Tracksmith’s Wellesley HQ, we were able to work quickly and productively on a series of prototypes to get the exact weight and feel we wanted. The result is the grayboy you can buy today. Heavy (but not too heavy) American milled cotton, proudly manufactured in New England to our design –like the best denim, they wear in, not out. See our Men’s and Women’s Grayboys.

UCONN Track & Field Grayboy from the 1960's
Georgetown's famous Grayboy (2003)

T-shirts first escaped the underwear drawer to be worn as leisurewear in the late 1930s. Printed tees initially gained notoriety when Life magazine featured 23 year-old Corporal Alexander Le Gerda of the 853rd Ordnance Company on the cover of its July 13, 1942 issue. He was pictured wearing a military issue Air Corps Gunnery School t-shirt, and overnight, the humble gray boy became a staple of every young man’s sporting and leisure wardrobe. Brands like Champion and Russell Athletic came to dominate the market thanks to cheap, domestically produced cotton and the ability to respond quickly to trends. T-shirts quickly moved from being rebellious to become the standardized uniform of youth and a way for students to show their allegiance to their college and their team. And for those lucky enough to be on the team, they were an essential training garment – to this day cotton is an effective material for temperature management (while you’re working out at least) and it feels good against your skin.


Draper Knitting

Draper Knitting has been operating in our backyard of Canton, Massachusetts since 1856. Now into its sixth generation, this family run firm is dedicated to both the heritage of their process and the future of American manufacturing. To this day, Draper mills reverberate with the clatter of old and new machinery – traditional methods bumping comfortably alongside creative textile innovation. You can watch a video of how they work on youtube.


“Our cotton-rayon Grayboy blend has an innovative anti-microbial coating which we worked on with Draper to develop,” says Mollie Talmanson, Tracksmith’s Development and Production Manager. “We like working with Draper for the ease of dealing with people right in our backyard – I always worked with offshore manufacturers before I came to Tracksmith, and every email incurs a day delay. Working with people right here in New England means we can get things done quickly, and to the quality we demand.”



When did sweat become something to be ashamed of? Sure, there are times when you want a technical fabric to hustle perspiration away from your skin as quickly as possible, but on a 4-mile recovery run? Cotton works just fine, thanks – just like it has done for generations before us. Real runners sweat, it’s time to accept that and wear your workout with pride. Grayboys are available for men and for women.

Buy Men's Grayboy
Buy Women's Grayboy

success: one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration

We want to see you sweat. Take a picture a Tracksmith Grayboy post-run, post it to instagram with the hashtag #tracksmithsweat and tag @tracksmithrunning and you could win a new edition Grayboy. If you want to win, you’re going to have to earn it.

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