Italians Do It Better...

Early 1980s sportswear has experienced something of a renaissance in recent seasons, appearing on a succession of runways, especially menswear. The hero pieces of this throwback are undoubtedly a pair of lightweight tennis shoes, and a simple zip-up track jacket. It’s a look that easily translates to the street, as designs of this era, when sportswear as fashion was still in it’s infancy, were clean and considered, with sharp graphic motifs. However, those that are truly mastering this trend, are bypassing designer re- workings, in favour of something more authentic. Aside from vintage, which can be time consuming and a little hit or miss, a sure fire way to nail it, are heritage sports brands like Diadora, who are cleverly reworking archive styles.

Diadora was an important part of the distinctly British casual and terrace subcultures which emerged at the start of the 1980s, whereby imported European sportswear became popular with football fans. A movement that took the existing concept of team colour tribalism, into brand oriented new territory. As well as referencing this period directly, luxury names across the fashion capitals have also looked to it’s resurgence during the 90s. A time when wirey, mop-haired guys resembling Damon Albarn, and Jamie Hewlett illustrations, made the most of clothes that were then abundant in second hand stores and charity shops.

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Diadora’s S/S ’17 #OnTheBrightSide terrace inspired campaign

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While other brands were also important parts of the original terrace look, in terms of offering this aesthetic in a way that works for 2017, Diadora is a definite pick of the bunch. The company, which was founded in Italy in 1948 as ‘an artisan’s laboratory’ for producing mountain boots, has kept unrivalled quality central to its company ethos. Beyond current aesthetics, what the brand also shares with a host of luxury names, is the fact it still produces a portion of it’s product in Italy. The only Italian athletic footwear and apparel company to maintain a manufacturing presence there. Contained within the same complex as their artisanal production line in Caerano di San Marco, Treviso, Diadora also has a museum dedicated to it’s history. A boldly minimal environment that personifies the value the company places on it’s past, whilst continuing to strive forward. 

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Traditional artisans shoe cast, at the Diadora Museum, Caerano di San Marco

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Also attractive, is Diadora’s definite belief that customers are key. Their latest campaign for spring/summer ’17 expresses this in a twofold way. Set in Hackney, East London and captured in what feels like early morning light, perhaps suggesting an all nighter, the images focus on a Diadora clad clique of young creatives. A group that clearly know how to have a good time. Whilst the imagery pays homage to customers of the past through it’s referencing of terrace fashion, with a red brick setting and documentary quality, the minimal styling considers customers of the here and now. Rejecting the blank canvas casting that many brands favour, the models true characters and sense of style is left to sing. Ranging from an artist, to musicians and a skateboarder, each has received a profile on Diadora’s website and social platforms.

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Original B. Elite shoes signed by Bjorn Borg, 1981

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At the heart of the spring/summer ’17 collection are new versions of the B. Elite tennis shoe. Having pioneered the concept of sports star testimonials and collaborations in the 1970s, the style was originally produced for tennis champion Bjorn Borg in 1981. The fact that Diadora continue to celebrate the re- appropriation of this style in the U.K as part of the terrace look, shows a deep rooted appreciation for the culture of their customers. With it’s re-issue, this appreciation has moved forward again, with new design flourishes that cater to more of a fashion crowd. The B. Elite is now available in a range of new colours, including a bold red suede, guaranteed to appeal to puddle-conscious sneakerheads, who like to keep things box fresh. A style that perfectly compliments the collections most statement piece of apparel, an 80s style track jacket in a bold red and blue colour combination, with contrast detailing.

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Diadora’s revamped B. Elite shoe in red suede, and matching 80’s style track jacket

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Moving forward, Diadora look set to broaden their fashion outreach even further. In-house, the brands Heritage line sees another reworking of the B.Elite, as part of a wider revamp of iconic styles within a ‘Change the Reality’ theme. Here, standard fabrications are replaced with premium textiles and unexpected treatments, including woven and cracked metallic finishes. Externally, the spring/summer season also sees a 90’s focused second collaboration with Dutch streetwear aficionados Patta. Perhaps most significantly, the brand have also collaborated with high-end label MSGM, a preview of which debuted in their autumn/winter ’17 Milan menswear show. A smart move on the part of MSGM’s creative Director Massimo Giorgetti, who clearly understands the value of authenticity, and almost seventy years of technical know-how.

 

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www.diadora.co.uk

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