The Reason Behind Fila’s Decision to Make Its Runway Debut at Milan Fashion Week

After Karl Lagerfeld riffed on Fila‘s iconic 107-year-old logo for fall ’18, manipulating it to read “Fendi” and plastering it all over the luxury brand’s FF-printed accessories and ready-to-wear during Milan Fashion Week this year, the sportswear label is getting its very own solo show in September for spring ’19. Among the usual Milan Fashion Week heavyweights — like Versace, Prada, Marni and, yes, Fendi — Fila is set to stage its first-ever runway with a collection spearheaded by recently appointed creative directors Antonino Ingrasciotta and Joseph Graesel. The two have been tasked to dive into the Fila archive and bring to life a lineup that will pay homage to the sportswear label’s roots while pushing it into the future.

“The fashion world has shown a keen interest in Fila in the last couple of years. Sportswear has become increasingly important in the fashion industry. It is what consumers are looking for nowadays,” said Gene Yoon, global chairman, said in a press release. “We have started initiating interesting collaborations with prominent fashion brands such as Fendi, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Jason Wu and Baja East. We thought it was our significant moment to enter the fashion arena. We strongly believe that a fashion show is the optimum method to spread our voice throughout the fashion world.”

Fila was founded in Italy in 1911 (the brand is now based in South Korea), which makes its forthcoming Milan show — set in its country of origin — all the more meaningful. “Furthermore, we genuinely believe that Italy is one of the first countries to have been involved in premier fashion and is also a land abundant in beauty and creativity,” Yoon continued. “Fashion consists of the main expressions of these elements.”

Gene Yoon, global chairman of Fila.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Fila

A Fila fashion show may seem surprising at first, but it makes sense: The brand sits at the intersection of fashion, sports and entertainment. Factor in the industry’s current fixation on all things ’90s, complete with successful fashion collaborations and major pop culture moments, like a Fila-wearing Luke Wilson in the cult-favorite Wes Anderson movie “The Royal Tenenbaums,” along with endorsements from athletic pros, including tennis legend Bjӧrn Borg and Alpine ski racers Ingemar Stenmark and Alberto Tomba, and there seems to be no stopping Fila from striking sartorial gold. It’s for all these reasons that Yoon believes Fila has a competitive edge over traditional brands.

“We discovered that Fila’s heritage was surprisingly plentiful in very modern fashion elements by working on the collaborations with the leading fashion designers … it was natural for our creative directors to merge these elements,” explained Yoon, going on to say that there might be more fashion shows in Fila’s future. “This also explains the inspiration for the collection based on Fila’s intrinsic culture.”

In conjunction with its fashion show, an exhibition will be held at La Triennale in Milan to explore and celebrate the sportswear label’s heritage. “We sincerely believe that we’re entering a new era for Fila,” Yoon said, “and this type of evolution has been a constant element of our DNA.”

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