CULT BRAND: FILA
By Ross Wilson, 28 May 2018
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 drops of old-school-flavoured, block-printed cuts, we've decided to take a look back at the brand’s journey from tennis court to streetwear staple.
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.
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.
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 dancefloors 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.
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 in 2016 relaunched the venerable sports outfitters to a new generation. Its latest range of retro-feel track jackets, slick caps and velour polo shirts make for the ideal additions to your wardrobe this spring/summer.