The Ellesse sportswear brand was founded in Italy by Leonardo Servadio in 1959. The name Ellesse is derived from Servadio’s initials, being LS.
The company grew in popularity during the 70s with emphasis on producing skiwear, in particular quilted jackets and ski pants. In 1979 Ellesse’s Jet Pant, which featured padded knees and a wider lower leg so that it would fit around a ski boot, was included in an event at the Pompidou Centre in Paris celebrating Italian design.
Tennis was another key sport in which Ellesse had been closely associated with since its early years and the Ellesse logo itself references the form of a tennis ball and the shape of the tips of a pair of skis.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s Ellesse had gained quite a considerable reputation for combining the functionality of sportswear with the styling of street level fashion and were one of the first sportswear brands to feature their logo prominently on the outside of all of its garments. During the mid 1980s when Ellesse really started to come into the for front of sportswear design, French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac worked with Ellesse. This was one of the earliest collaborations between a sportswear company and a fashion designer.
Many famous sports celebrities, including those from tennis, endorsed Ellesse including players like Chris Evert, Guillermo Vilas and Boris Becker. Other non tennis associated sports personalities included Muhammad Ali, Natas Kaupas and Maurice Cheeks along with actors and actresses Roger Moore and Brigitte Nielsen.
A UK brand management company by the name of Pentland Group purchased a 90% share of Ellesse for 20 million pounds back in 1994. Although Pentland purchased 90% of the company they were the Ellesse UK distributor since 1981 and founder Servadio retained the remaining 10% share in the company when it was bought by Pentland. They also own other well known brands such as Lacoste, Berghaus and Speedo.
Ellesse recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009 with a party held in Rome in July of 2009.
80s Casual Classics are one of a handful of retailers in the UK to be able to stock this 80s retro clothing brand and have helped to contribute to the styling and recent bringing of the brand to the UK. Neil is a fan and collector of Ellesse and even helped with the loaning of some classic vintage originals to Nick Love on the set of his remake of The Firm, with many of these pieces being seen and used on set.
For more detailed information and to view upcoming Ellesse Heritage products visit www.80scasualclassics.co.uk.