The history of Fila began in 1911, when two Italian brothers, the Filas, created the company as an underwear manufacturer. In the 1970s, the company, with director, Enrico Frachey, turned its focus towards sportswear and athletic shoes, attempting to compete with Nike and Reebok. Fila had its first endorsement from tennis player Bjorn Borg, who started to wear clothing that featured the Fila logo. Borg went onto win 11 titles, all while wearing Fila tennis apparel. His support put the Fila brand in a state of new-found worldwide recognition.
The story of Fila's transformation into a leading global designer of high-end sportswear has been one of continual evolution driven by a philosophy of innovation that lies at the heart of their most successful designs. In 1923, the brothers officially established the expanding family-run textile business as a high-quality knitwear manufacturing company, entering into a limited partnership named Maglficio Biellese. Through the years, the business grew beyond the borders of Biella to become a well-known quality knitwear producer for Italy.
In 1942, the company merged with the Fratelli Fila company, and by 1972 the company had sales of over one billion lire and a total workforce of more than 250 people. Wishing to further expand the company, Giansevero Fila hired Enrico Frachey as the managing director of the firm in 1968. Frachey shared Fila's vision and it was his creativity and managerial resourcefulness that ultimately transformed Fila into a global sportswear brand.
In the 1970’s, sports rose to international prominence with tennis leading the charge as a form of individual expression. It represented the never tiring human spirit and celebrated its tenacity. The company took a note and prepared for its bold debut into the sportswear industry.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s Fila was embraced and endorsed by a number of tennis professionals. However, the brand fell short in popularity in the United States with Nike and Reebok taking the lead. But then, NBA star Grant Hill endorsed Fila shoes in 1994 along with World Cup 94 winning Skier Alberto Tomba to start its successful run and tug of war versus Nike and Reebok throughout the 90’s. Fila was not only creative with its shoes but was also famous for its use of vibrant colours that challenged the monotony of the all-white tennis apparel. During the 80’s and 90’s, Fila continued to be a brand associated with tennis and the sportsmen/women that made it famous. At the same time, the company was also busy establishing its presence in other avenues such as Baseball, Basketball, football and motorsports. Fila is the only brand that can boast of being rocked by tennis different generations of tennis greats such as Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, Jennifer Capriati, and Monica Seles.
In 2006, Fila launched a golf collection named Fila Biella, including both shoes and apparel. In 2007, Fila joined hands with GLBH (Global Leading Brands House) which is a fashion organization that helps companies in developing high-end fashion products. With that move in order, Fila set up its headquarters in Milan, Italy which happens to be one of the fashion capitals of the world.
There have been many famous athletes that have rocked Fila, not to mention some collaborations the brand has had with some notable names in the world of sneakers and fashion. 2005 US Open winner Kim Clijsters beat Mary Pierce while rocking Fila tennis shoes and apparel as she jumped into the stands to join her family and friends. Fila’s collaboration with fashion brand Pink Dolphin clothing resulted in a sweep out by sneakerheads when the cage silhouette was released in white and black colourways. Packer Shoes, one of the oldest sneaker stores on the East Coast did a collab with Fila on the T1-Mid with Tennis hall of fame footbeds and packer-embroidered detail back collar.
Fila continues to give us that retro feel even to this day with their uniquely simple designs and usage of trendy materials. They may no longer be the giants they used to be, but they’re a classic option that can never be written off a sneakerhead’s to-do list.
On the 1st of December 2016, Shelflife will be exclusively releasing Fila sneakers in store and online. The following styles will be available at Shelflife from December.
Fila MB Black
MB Navy Pack