MILAN — There’s a new brand showing during the next edition of Milan Fashion Week and one that is entitled to the sportswear claim: Fila will make its runway debut in September and also inaugurate an exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum on Sept. 19.
“In the last years, the fashion world has shown a great interest in Fila. Sportswear became more and more important for the fashion industry, also because it’s what customers are currently looking for,” said Fila Global chairman Gene Yoon, who as former chief executive officer of Fila Korea took direct control of the international group in 2007. “We started doing interesting collaborations with fashion brands and retailers, such as Gosha Rubchinskiy, Urban Outfitters and Jason Wu — this one locally for China — and we thought it was our moment to break the rules and to enter the fashion arena. We strongly believe that a fashion show is the best way to make our voice heard by the fashion system.”
For the brand’s debut in the high-end fashion arena, Fila tapped as creative directors Antonino Ingrasciotta and Joseph Graesel, who worked together at Strenesse and Adidas Originals.
“Their background perfectly matches sports and fashion. Starting from the Fila archive, they’re working on a collection that aims to bring the brand to the next level, connecting the past with its future,” said Yoon. “Working on the collaborations with the fashion designers, we discovered that the Fila heritage was surprisingly rich with very modern fashion elements. So it was kind of natural for our creative directors to merge these elements, adding to the collection inspirations coming from the Fila ‘culture,’ such as the appearance of the brand in ”he Royal Tenenbaums’ movie by Wes Anderson and the endorsement of champions like Björn Borg, Ingemar Stenmark and Alberto Tomba, among others.”
Founded by the seven Fila brothers in 1911 in the Biella area as a textile company, which expanded in the underwear business, the Fila label made its debut in the sportswear segment in 1973. It quickly became a leading brand in the tennis arena with its signature logo, designed by Sergio Privitera, featuring a blue and red F in a square. Several tennis players started wearing Fila, including Italian champion Adriano Panatta and Swedish star Borg. Quickly, Fila entered different sport segments, including climbing, golf and ski and sponsoring several athletes, such as Reinhold Messner, Tomas Watson and Monica Seles.
In 2011, Fila Korea also acquired Acushnet Holding Corp., which operates leading golf brands Titlest and Footjoy, among others.
The Fila brand is sold in 70 countries around the world through 37 licensees, except for the U.S., China and Korea, where the label’s collections are directly distributed by the company.
The brand also operates direct stores in China, Korea and Japan and is entering the Indian retail market.
In 2017, the publicly listed Fila Korea, Fila Group’s parent company, which includes Acushnet, registered revenues of approximately $2.3 billion and posted $200 million in operating profit.