Ellesse - A Brief History

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Company History

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The Ellesse name is based on the initials, L.S., of its founder, Leonardo Servadio, an Italian tailor with an innovative approach to styling and manufacture. In 1959, Servadio created a revolutionary stretch ski pant which established Ellesse among the elite alpine social circles, making it the ultimate aspirational brand. The immense success of Ellesse in winter sports clothing provided a perfect passport to expand the brand and transfer the design philosophy into the equally prestigious world of tennis. In 1976, Servadio seized the opportunity to take the brand onto a worldwide stage and embarked on an aggressive sponsorship programme signing tennis legends such as Boris Becker, Chris Evert Lloyd and Guillermo Vilas.

Ellesse became synonymous with tennis and skiing and as a testimony to the success of Ellesse in these highly competitive fields, the Ellesse logo, consisting of half a tennis ball combined with 2 ski tips, surmounting the company name, was created.


The Ellesse Time Line

1959 - Leonardo Servadio, an Italian tailor, founds Ellesse - the name is created from his initials L.S. (elle-esse).

Servadio's textile industry background enables him to produce fashionable textiles and garments with innovative design.

1967 - Success hits fast. Ellesse team moves to 60,000m2 state of the art building in Perugia, in the centre of Italy.

At the end of the decade Servadio discovers a fabric, which enhances athletic performance. He combines it with style innovation to revolutionise the world's ski market.

Ellesse creates the Jet Pant - an innovative, pioneering design of ski pant, with many technical features, bringing the brand into the world of high performance sportswear. First sportswear brand to feature its brand name on the outside of its garments.

1974 - second design breakthrough with the quilted ski jacket which becomes a status symbol, still widely seen on the international ski slopes but now also worn in the world's fashion capitals

Sponsorship of the Italian National Ski Team - Ellesse becomes one of the best known and successful ski brands of the 70's and 80's.

1975 - Ellesse moves into tennis sportswear which proves to be as successful as the skiwear.

New 'half ball' logo is developed.

1979 - Jet Pant enters history books when Ellesse represents Italian design at an exhibition in Paris, France.

By the early 1980's Ellesse is synonymous with stylish, innovative sportswear through the sponsorship of world class sports personalities and events.

Ellesse sponsors top tennis players including Guillermo Vilas (1980-1983), Chris Evert (1980-1986), Boris Becker (1983-1986), Hana Mandlikova, Jo Durie and Henri Leconte (1983).

Sponsorship also covers events such as the Italian Women's Open Tennis Tournament in 1980, 1981 and 1984.

1982 - Alain Prost, Formula One Champion

1982 - Italian National Football Team

1984-1986 - USA Marathons

1984, 1987, 1991 - Monte Carlo Grand Prix, Formula One Racing

1985 - Boris Becker wins his first Wimbledon Singles title, age 17, wearing Ellesse.

1985-1986 - Gianni Poli, winner of 1986 New York City Marathon

1986 - Boris Becker defends his Wimbledon Singles title, still wearing Ellesse.

Ellesse sponsors 10 National Ski Teams at the beginning of the 1980's - W.Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, USSR, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway and Bulgaria.

1988-1989 - Mark Giradelli of Luxembourg, another Ellesse sponsored skier, becomes World Champion.

Ellesse sponsorship programme expands to other sports (running, F1 and football)

Ellesse introduces both a leisurewear and a shoe range with which it expands into the major markets around the world.

Partnership established with the Pentland Group for distribution of clothing.

The 1990's - Ellesse commands a prominent position in the sports world through its highly recognised brand name.

Product innovation is a major source of growth in the early 90's

- swimsuits made from Sunselect fabric, allowing tanning on covered parts of body.

- Ellesse Pneu System - air cushion built into tennis shoes to protect the foot and ankle.

- Magic Air, a ski jacket that raises the internal temperature of the garment, displayed in Milan's Museum of Design and Technology.

- Ellesse Sydney tennis shoe with new amortising system.

Pentland Group acquires majority of Ellesse shares in 1993 and the remainder in 1995.

Please remember that this is an unofficial account of the history of this company,
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