Fila shoots to up its game in fashion
Fila has made a decisive incursion into fashion with a much-commended coed show in Milan. For its runway debut, the sportswear brand, founded in 1911 near Biella in Italy's Piedmont region, hit a home run with a slickly staged presentation held in a giant loft that put one in mind of a space-age hospital with its immaculate white carpet and cold blue light. Eight highly graphic white ensembles opened the show, not without evoking memories of the buzzy show staged by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton in June of this year...
The Fila name appeared discreetly, embossed tone on tone on white t-shirts, or as micro-logos on their chests. It was more visible elsewhere, popping up in block capitals on some apparel pieces and accessories, channelling the iconic blue and red lettering of the brand, which has been owned since 2007 by South Korean entrepreneur Gene Yoon through Fila Korea, being managed in Europe by licensee Dosenbach-Ochsner.
Next, the palette took a dive into the reds with flowing jersey dresses and short, panelled skirts for the girls, who also wore matching thigh-high opaque stockings in the same bright colour, while the boys were dressed in F1 racing suits, classic tracksuits or a nautical version of the latter featuring bermuda shorts and an anorak jacket, also in red.
Overall, the Fila collection for Spring/Summer 2019 is highly desirable, savvily mixing basic little easy-to-wear pieces with more sophisticated silhouettes in a similar vein to Lacoste, as with a set of elegant chequered ensembles taking their inspiration from the famous outfits of tennis champion Björn Borg. Avowedly sporty elements were reinterpreted at times and left to speak for themselves at others, with the catwalk playing host to tracksuits, pleated tennis skirts and even jogging bottoms paired with a traditional men's jacket. Not to mention the accessories, which included the inevitable bucket hat, as well as some delightfully vintage knitwear and shorts.
"We took the archives as our starting point in order to create a new collection positioned between the past and the future, with just the right balance of sport and fashion, playing with influences from both the 90s and the 70s," explained creative directors Antonino Ingrasciotta and Josef Graesel, who have 25 years of experience in fashion, seven of which were spent leading design at Adidas Originals.
When they arrived at Fila at the beginning of 2017, they began by working on capsule collections. "The idea is to elevate the brand, moving from the sportswear segment into Premium Luxury. So we brought some of our manufacturing to Italy. It was in this spirit that we collaborated on a capsule collection with Fendi too, playing with the "F" for Fila and Fendi, which will launch in October," they continued.
"In fact, everything began with the collaboration that we did in 2016 with Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy when he came to show at Pitti Uomo. It was a real explosion which led us to explore this route with other designers and, above all, to recentre on the fashion segment," Fila's director of global marketing Barbara Mora told FashionNetwork.com.
"This runway is like a window to show what Fila is about, with a collection that gives a panoramic view of the brand. Before it was acquired by the Koreans, Fila changed hands several times and lost its way. Our clientele was also older. This focus on fashion allows us to get closer to a younger target market," she concluded.
And Fila made the most of having its foot in the door at Milan Fashion Week, also presenting a charming brand retrospective, which was open all week at the city's Triennale museum.
It was an opportunity for members of the public to discover – or reminisce nostalgically about – great sporting moments through the outfits worn by tennis stars of the 70s like Guillermo Vilas and Björn Borg, or by champions of the 80s like Boris Becker, but also by alpine athletes such as Alberto Tomba.
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