How Fila Is Disrupting Milan Fashion Week and Inside Its New Exhibition

Fila hits the runway at Milan Fashion Week for the first time ever on Sept. 23, and the Italian heritage brand also is taking over the city with an attention-grabbing exhibition about its storied history.

The brand held an opening event tonight to celebrate the retrospective — which runs from now until Sunday at the Triennale Museum, one of Milan’s art, design and fashion institutions.

Fila exhibition
The Fila exhibition at the Triennale Museum.

Fila, which is enjoying a renaissance, thanks in part to the popularity of its Disruptor 2 dad shoe, was founded in 1911 by brothers from its namesake family. It’s evolved from a textile and underwear purveyor to a global sportswear company, and now Fila is out to prove it can compete in the world of high fashion.

“Some people still think we’re only a tennis brand. We’re not. We wanted to bring the collection to the next level and meld the past and future together,” said co-creative director Josef Graesel, who recently joined Fila with co-creative director Antonino Ingrasciotta. (Both previously worked at Adidas Originals, another retro success story.)

Ingrasciotta said the power of the Disruptor is evident; millennials have wholeheartedly embraced the style. “It’s great to see people wearing Fila everywhere we travel,” he said.

Fila exhibition
Archival pieces at the Fila exhibition.

The pair is eager for their turn on the runway this week. They drew inspiration from archival pieces, which are featured as part of the exhibition.

Meanwhile, 60 images on display include advertising campaigns and archival photos dating back to the 1960s. There are also nostalgic videos that showcase the brand’s development through the years, spotlighting the colorful tennis apparel it became known for.

Fila exhibition
A number of Fila’s most popular styles, as seen at the brand’s exhibit in Italy.

Classic clothing and shoe styles are highlighted in another section of the exhibition. Among them is the FX-3 Original tennis style — which introduced the Fila flag logo when it debuted in 1985. (Fila entered the shoe category in 1983 and cemented its status as a leading footwear player in the 1990s.)

The Grant Hill Hi, one of five shoes dedicated to the basketball star, gets top billing along with the original Disruptor, which came out in 1996. The Mindblower, which the brand has brought back, is also showcased, as well as the 1990s Grunge HIker, among several others.

Fila exhibition
A look at Fila’s brand history.
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