FILA CELEBRATES 100 YEARS: A GLAM SLAM TALKS TO FIRST CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PIERLUIGI ROLANDO
Iconic Italian sportswear brand, Fila, began in 1911 as an underwear manufacturer. In the 100 years since, the brand has been a leader and an innovator, infusing high-end fashion design into the sportswear industry. A trend that continues to grow even today.
As the brand celebrates turning 100, A Glam Slam got the scoop from Fila’s first creative director of apparel and footwear, Pierluigi Rolando. He’s the artist behind Fila’s most iconic fashions and was largely responsible for transforming tennis apparel in the 1970’s and 80’s. Rolando’s work helped to redefine sportswear, especially through the addition color and his use of materials such as wool and cashmere in new and different ways. The Italian designer, who was born in Turin in 1935, has an impressive resume. In addition to his work with Fila from 1971-1984, he’s also lent his talents to brands such as adidas, Nike and Ermenegildo Zegna among others.
A Glam Slam had the honor of interviewing Pierluigi. Here’s the story of Fila’s emergence as an iconic sports fashion brand as told to A Glam Slam, straight from the influential designer himself. Take a look at the sketches he provided and check out what he had to say below:
Fila began as an underwear manufacturer until you were brought on as a designer to develop sports apparel. Why did you decide to begin with tennis apparel? Can you give us some insight into that process and how it came about?
In the first place I was requested to convert the apparel line from underwear to an outerwear apparel line. What happened was simply the fact that being a graduated Leeds University Textile engineer, together with the fact of being a creative designer with wide experience on this particular field, having created a full vertical cashmere production apparel line, I was able to conceive all terms of the equation: technical and creative experience.
Despite its name, Fila’s “White Line” introduced color into the game and challenged the traditions of all-white tennis. Why do you make the decision to add color?
White Line was originally a brand coming from California Pop Art experience. In the same time the color introduction in the first tennis line was namely originated by the fact that the first TV shooting programs were disturbed by the off white light reflection, therefore the use of color was bound to ease this basic problem.
Bjorn Borg was instrumental in helping to launch the Fila range that defined the look of the 1970’s. Why was he chosen as the first brand endorser? Did he have any input in the design process?
B. Borg was chosen because he was at that time the number one tennis icon, but he never, never, had any particular involvement in the process. The basic idea was only due to the designer culture and inspiration, who conceived all items of the outstanding apparel line.
Fila is also known for its iconic, highly recognizable “F” logo. Is there a story behind it and how it was created?
Fila logo was at that time an iconic expression of the USA flag with reference to the color hue of red, blue and white colors, and the F was transformed into two parts, always following the basic Pop Art idea, being at that time the main art expression all over the world.
What do you think has made Fila’s sports fashion apparel so successful for so many years? What impact has the brand had on style in the athletic marketplace?
For the first time ever, Fila apparel was proposing color items in the line. The Italian design was able to conceive a basic coordinated program of design, taking into account taste and strict, exact and precise application of the formula: fashion and architecture rules concerning the best performance. This main concept was the success for many years on style in the athletic marketplace.
Though trends change over time, what qualities have remained consistent in Fila’s sportswear offerings over the years?
See above 5, and this is the true reason of success, i.e. the balance between design, fashion and art.
Fila’s vintage pieces always seem to be in hot demand. How has the response been to the items in the 100th Anniversary collection?
Fila Vintage is on the hot demand for the same reason described in items 5) and 6) and finally because Fila 100 century anniversary purpose is always the same equation, a concept of equilibrium and balance between: DESIGN, FASHION, and ART.
Looking ahead to the next 100 years, what do you hope to see for the brand moving forward?
There is only one way to proceed with success and hope to see Fila moving forward with success: to confirm the perfect balance between the 3 items, i.e. DESIGN, FASHION, ART!!
The limited edition “100 Years Collection” from Fila features retro style polos, track jackets, tees and accessories for men and women. Pieces celebrate the brand’s signature style with fashion-forward designs inspired by sketches found in the Fila archives. The line includes bold Italian colors and chevron stripe details and all pieces include a special anniversary logo.
In addition to the release of commemorative apparel and accessories, the brand is also celebrating this milestone with a multi-tiered marketing campaign. Fila has launched a dedicated microsite that includes key moments in history with original design sketches and sports figures who helped to make the brand so famous. Users can also view previous Fila fashions and vote on whether or not they would wear those items today. A Fila museum will also open in the Province of Biella, Italy, the region where the Fila brand was born in 1911. The museum will tell the story of the company and its involvement in the region’s rich textile history. For more on Fila’s 100 years and to view the full anniversary collection, visit here.