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BRAND FOCUS

CULT BRAND: FILA

By Ross Wilson, 13 March 2017

In the world of logo-heavy retro sportswear, you don’t get much more iconic than Fila. With the minimalist red and blue ‘F’ emblem adorning strong new drop of old school-flavoured, block-printed cuts, we decided take a look back at the brand’s journey from tennis court to streetwear staple.

fila clothes

Picture: ASOS

Giansevero Fila and his three brothers founded their eponymous company in a small northern Italian town of Biella in 1911. Initially a textile business that expanded into knitwear, it wasn’t until the 70s, when they partnered with young Swedish tennis ace Björn Borg, that Fila started to produce the sportswear that would eventually elevate the brand to cult status.

bjorn borg in flla

Picture: Rex

With his shaggy blond hair, scruffy beard and beaded necklaces, Borg looked more rock’n’roll rebel than lawn-tennis purist and part of his signature look was his Fila gear – the tight polo shirt, short shorts, terry headband and his (now iconic) Fila Settanta track jacket. Winning five consecutive men's singles titles at Wimbledon before abruptly quitting at age 26, Borg was a superstar and his on-court steez catapulted Fila to global success. 

fila clothes on doug e fresh

Picture: Getty

Despite Borg’s early retirement in 1983, Fila became one of the most popular sports-casual brands of the 80s. Fila tracksuits dominated football terraces, pubs and dance floors from the UK to the Costa Del Sol. The emerging US hip-hop scene also jumped on the look with MCs such as LL Cool J, Erik B & Rakim and Doug E. Fresh (above) all rocking the two-tone velour track tops under their gold rope chains. There was even a short-lived Dallas rap group called The Fila Fresh Crew, named for their track jacket of choice.     

asap rocky in fila

Picture: Vantage

Having spent a few years in fashion’s wilderness, Fila made a triumphant return with some heavyweight collaborations in the 2000s. Limited edition collections with New York’s Supreme in 2007, and Russia’s hottest export Gosha Rubchinskiy late last year relaunched the venerable sports outfitters to a new generation. Style icons such as A$AP Rocky, Rihanna and Kendall Jenner have all been spotted sporting the big ‘F’ during the past few months. 

fila clothes

Picture: ASOS

Fila’s collection of colour-block tees, classic sweats and vintage-style track jackets bring a throwback sports-inspired vibe that’s perfect for spring/summer. Accessorising with a wooden tennis racket is purely optional.

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