Ellesse is what you call the life of the party. Breathing colour and vibrancy, they’re all about living in the moment. Their character stems from their culture heritage, a brand with an Italian style and a funky sense of fun.

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Ellesse has come a long way since the slopes, with very little downfall or failure. In order to achieve success, Ellesse kept consumers happy, by introducing fresh pieces of colour and fun. Ellesse is now celebrating its existence as a brand that thrives on bringing out the colour in youths and changing the face of fashion.

So, let’s rewind time to see how it all began.

The birth of Ellesse

Welcome to the 1950’s. The decade of reconstruction. A time where teens clashed with their parents. Rock ‘N’ Roll dominated the stages. Young stars like James Dean became heroes. The final year of the 50’s saw the untimely death of Buddy Holly.

But things started looking up in 59’, with the birth of a sportswear empire. A youthful Leonardo Servadio rebelled against his surroundings and decided to put a name to his clothing creations. His first and second initials merged and Ellesse was born.

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Early Ellesse

Goodbye conformity. Hello counterculture. Sliding into the sixties was made much more simple thanks to the creativity and determination of Servadio.

This decade saw Ellesse change the face of sportswear forever.  The invention of the iconic ski jet pant combined both design and technology like never before. Servadio created a revolutionary stretch ski pant with padded knees and tapered legs, enabling them to fit over ski boots.  Italy’s best skiers were head to toe in Ellesse’s innovative stylish designs. This established Ellesse among the elite alpine social circles.

So, what made Ellesse stand out amongst others? It was all in the logo. The penguin first appeared on the swing tags of their Jet Ski pants. It then waddled its way to feature on the thigh area. A Penguin you ask?  Proud founder Leonardo Servadio kept two as pets…

A time came when Ellesse realised it was not just made for the slopes. The clothing line soon after expanded to the tennis courts. Home to the summer sport of Europe’s Elite, Ellesse became the ultimate aspirational brand.

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Fast-forward a few years and the late sixties saw ‘flower power’ sweeping the world. Ellesse were now starting to gain momentum as a forward thinking sportswear brand.

Ellesse’s first steps

That first step into the 70’s was a huge leap of freedom from the past decade. This was a time where the doors opened and nothing but complete liberation was known. Since a sense of freedom was rife in the air, Ellesse felt the pressure to conform to this concept, and as a result, after hard work, added some fresh flavour to its everyday designs.

This decade saw new cultures and fashions form, with disco and dance dominating the cities underground scenes. The Ellesse brand grew in harmony with its cultural surroundings and Leonardo upped the brand’s ‘glam’. More colour, brighter colours and bolder shapes, surrounded everyone, everywhere.

So what did this mean? Sadly, it was now time for the penguin to move on. As a result, the logo transformed, as a sign of moving on to bigger and better things. Ellesse used this transition to show how far they have come and the future steps they hope to take.


It was then, that the now famous Ellesse logo first appeared. The penguin was knocked out by a hybrid tennis ball, with two ski-tips flanking a section of the tennis ball. This then lay across the word mark.

Ellesse was one of the first brands to produce items where the logo is an essential component of a garment’s appearance. Nobody can take this away from them.

Ellesse in the 80’s

An era of complete excess, everywhere you looked in the 80’s was luxury, prosperity and deep pockets. People were not afraid to show what they have. What did this mean for Ellesse? Time to switch things up. Appeal to the consumers.

Adults, youth and stars wanted to look wealthy, so what better way than to dress in wealthy apparel.  More options for social events. Less casual, sporty wear.

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Ellesse in the early 80s built a reputation for the successful combination of sportswear clothes and their functionality with fashion styling. This all began when French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac worked with Ellesse, forming one of the earliest collaborations between a sportswear brand and a fashion designer.

The world was living life to the fullest, and so was Ellesse. Their sponsorship regime was highly visible, ensuring the winners of the world were wearing the brand.

Becker, Vilas and Evert reined the tennis courts, Ferrari roared in formula one, The Italian football team became World Champs, Gianni Poli won the NYC Marathon and Marc Ghirardelli became the skiing world champ. Ellesse was now a lifestyle brand with a 360 degree appeal. From sports stars such as Mohammad Ali, to the royal family, Ellesse was the ultimate status brand.


In the early 90s, Ellesse searched for ways to stay in the spotlight. After years of introducing new pieces, exploring ways to bring back old fashions and appealing to all ages, Ellesse became lost.

Modern hands, Pentland Group PLC, picked up the brand out of Leonardo’s older and content hands and took it into a postmodern direction. In co-ordination with the era of technology, the brand creates the ‘Pneu System’, an air cushion built into the shoes to offer elite protection.

A year later, these kicks are still the talk of the town, along with the “Magic Air’ ski jacket, that raises the internal temperature of the garment. Generally, the lavish living of the 80’s becomes more subdued, and in harmony, Ellesse moves from the mainstream to the underground. Ellesse moves itself into the US rap scene, worn by the likes of Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith, but also an iconic brand within the UK rave scene worn by teens across the nation.

Ellesse continued to reinvent the concept of sportswear fashion. With new and improved designs and new sponsorship deals see Ellesse clothes launched even further into the forefront of fashion.


Ellesse makes a comeback

Ellesse has kicked off again. Literally. Not just on the field or the court, but at all levels, including on the web, capturing the nostalgic appeal of the brand. Ellesse is now aimed at a younger, more fashion conscious consumer, who are trendsetters rather than followers.

Returning after lavish 50th birthday celebrations in Rome, the Heritage collection is now here. This retro range celebrates its beginnings and finds inspiration in the vast and colourful history of the brand.

Ellesse offers replicas of key products of the last 50 years, in hundreds of colours and top performance. Additionally, new seasonal looks and styles are integrated into the collection offering a contemporary interpretation of one of the most iconic brands worldwide.

Today, Ellesse is well-known for breaking the boundaries between fashion and sport. They have developed a reputation for blending sportswear functionality with street-level fashion styling. The new millennium sees Ellesse partner up with a number of iconic status brands, such as Wood Wood, Eley Kishimito and Robert McGinnis. This reinforces its status within the global arena, from sports to fashion and beyond.

Shop Ellesse online or in store now.

Words: Brittany Hughes