FILA Archive Project

  • Images courtesy of  FILA
  • Words  Abi Buller

 A household name in activewear, FILA open up their archives in an exclusive two-day exhibition, hosted in London’s Protein Studios. The archive project presents the brands 100 year sportswear heritage, alongside more recent fashion collaborations with Gosha Rubchinskiy. Showcasing its nostalgic connection to youth culture, the installation is inclusive of vintage campaign imagery, one-off exclusive garments and archival looks originally worn by tennis sensation Bjorn Bjorg and mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner. FILA have also joined with online vintage retailer Too Hot, to present a selection of garments available for purchase. 

We spoke to the team at FILA in celebration of presenting 100 years of style and sport.

 

Where did the concept for this archive originate?

FILA has always had a museum in Biella, Italy, which is the brand’s place of origin. While it’s not open to everyone, we were there last summer shooting our SS17 campaign and just thought it would be a great idea to bring the archive to London. A lot of people aren’t aware of everything FILA has done in sport and style, and we just wanted to show everyone that side of things.  

Is there a particular piece or image in the archive that you feel really encapsulates the history of FILA?

Every piece captures a different milestone for FILA. You can’t really narrow it down to one piece because they all correlate to big moments in the brand’s history. We have styles that the likes of Tupac wore, which are obvious iconic pop culture references from the 90s, and other pieces from the 70s or 80s that resemble that particular era in not only sport and style, but also in attitude. 

How did you manage to retain brand heritage amongst the rapidly growing rise of sportswear and fashion collaborations?

We’ve always looked back through our archives when designing new collections. A lot of the pieces that are sold today are largely inspired by key styles from past eras. We’ve always had a distinct ‘look’ and there would be no point creating collections in 2017 with designs or styles that do not resemble the aesthetic that FILA is known for. We’ve always kept true to the brand’s ethos and even when we do collaborations a lot of the time designers want to play on that heritage. For example, Liam Hodges and FILA have teamed up for SS18 and he played hugely with the brand’s colour blocking.

 

How did you approach collating the 100-year archive?

It was a collaborative process that involved the team in Italy. The brand is over 100 years old, so actually going through every era and style was time-consuming and it’s not an easy task, as everyone has their own personal favourites. It involves looking at key milestones for the brand and what was achieved in certain moments in the brand’s history. We have the more recent collaboration with Gosha Rubchinsky collection on display as it signifies a significant moment for us. 

Why did you choose London as the first city to present FILA archives?

Vintage styles are equally popular in the UK as they are in Italy. We noticed vintage pieces were getting just as much appreciation as our new styles and they have been used in photo shoots for global magazines, and celebrities like Rihanna have worn vintage pieces. We came across some pieces on Too Hot Ltd and thought that there was a way we could work together and bring not only archive pieces from the museum in Biella, but also work with Ollie Evans, the Too Hot founder, so that he could offer the fans rare one off vintage pieces to purchase at the exhibition.

How do you see FILA developing in the coming years?

It is difficult to truly identify how a brand will develop: we take it one step at a time. Of course, it would be great for those campaigns and pieces that we are doing now to be celebrated in twenty years time in the same way that we are currently celebrating those 80s and 90s eras at the moment. It is necessary to constantly keep on your toes and continue to develop those relationships with the brand’s fan base. 

Is youth culture an important aspect of how the brand chooses to communicate to its consumers?

FILA has a unique blend of Italian sophistication and elite sports heritage that evoke nostalgia in people who know the brand well, and there is a new found respect from a new generation of style-conscious millennials. 

Through basketball, FILA has been idolised by the urban community all over the world. Hip-Hop stars such as P Diddy, 2 Pac, and Notorious B.I.G were huge fans and their legacy has influenced underground urban music artists from grime, R&B, to reggae and jungle. Likewise, the brand’s Tennis collections have been adopted by many of the style elite such as Lee Alexander McQueen, with his favour for vintage sports jackets worn in the London fashion scene.

Will the new fashion focus retain the brand’s sportswear tradition?

We are never going to turn our backs on the brands origins from and we still produce tennis wear. People don’t wear sportswear like they used to: it’s not worth it as if it were a luxury designer brand. 

It really comes down to how pieces are styled together. For example a blogger called Doina Ciobanu paired a FILA sweatshirt with a high waisted red leather skirt and metallic purple over the knee boots and the outfit went viral! If that sweatshirt had been with some leggings or a tracksuit then it would be sportswear but it’s really down to fashion visionaries who can transcend the typical sportswear brand aesthetic and turn it into so much more. Taking items that, maybe ten years ago, people wouldn’t have even looked at and giving them a new identity is the new normal. Wearing some popper pants with heels is not only completely acceptable, but people would ask you where you bought that look from.

Interview with Paul Silvter, UK Marketing Manager
 

See more at fila.co.uk