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When the Fila brothers first started churning out textiles for the residents of Biella, Italy, in 1911, little did they know that they were on a path to creating an international company. Expanding on their family-owned business, the brothers' focus changed from textiles to classic athletic clothing worthy of high couture without sacrificing utility.
Transition to Sportswear
Beginning in the 19th century, the rise to popularity of sports, especially tennis, led the Fila brothers to re-imagine their company's branding. They believed that "sports were becoming the epitome of grace, style and an example of the robust vivacity of the human spirit." The introduction of Fila's "white line", moved away from the cliché all-white uniforms seen in tennis. Their vision helped them create vibrant uniforms that popped. Staying true to the athletic nature of their clothing, Fila sponsored timeless athletes such as Bjorn Borg, who won an astounding five consecutive Wimbledon championships, while sporting a Fila polo and headband of course, securing brand recognition for the sportswear company.
Design And Concept
Pier Luigi Rolando and Alessandro Galliano were the minds behind Fila, tasked to debut a sportswear line, changing their homey image into an easily accessible athletic one. The designers churned out Fila's first outerwear collection in 1972, using luxurious fabrics like wool and cashmere. The white line, introduced later, focused less on the "IN" Parisian couture and looked at pop art and artists that included Pollock and Warhol for inspiration. The vintage collection is their modern approach on the classy yet athletic apparel mid to late 1900s sports scene.
After performing strongly in the 1990's sports market, a few setbacks - the resignations of CEO's and competition with other brands - slowed down the company's progress. Reinvigorating the company by following their Korea branch's business model under the leadership of Steve Wynne, who previously worked with Adidas, Fila once again reemerged as a leader in sportswear. As of 2011, Fila, the once Italian company, has displayed its universal nature and is headed by Chairman and CEO Yoon Yoon-su in Seoul, South Korea, showing their ability to adapt.
Borg wasn't the only "Filathlete". Reinhold Messner withstood blizzards on Mt. Everest wearing Fila gear. NBA stars Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse played hoops and dunked in Fila sneaks. Ingemar Stenmark dazzled Olympic crowds skiing down slopes wearing Fila. Most recently, Kim Clijsters won back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2009 and 2010 with finesse, sporting her inner "Filathlete." Even Paris Hilton has been caught with Fila apparel.