Philosophy and technology, ASICS sports celebration

ASICS essence is a 'Celebration of Sport', explains Brand Trainer Team Lead Giuliano Zezza

“ASICS was born at a special moment in history, just after World War II, in a Japan that was struggling. Since its inception, the company’s wish has always been to enable as many people as possible to practice sports and to feel better because of it.” The words of ASICS Brand Trainer Team Lead Giuliano Zezza are not just an introduction to the ‘Celebration of Sport’ collection; they are the definition of a company philosophy that has changed outward forms over time – thanks to a relentless pursuit of technological progress – but never abandoned its true substance.

Where the Anima Sana continues to channel into the Corpore Sano, the celebration of sport is a tangible ideal. ‘Move Your Mind with ASICS,’ ‘Free Your Mind with ASICS’ is a message conveyed through a range of products shaped as much by age-old Japanese culture as contemporary scientific research. From 1949 to the present, the ASICS essence has always danced in step with both the pursuit of cross-cultural well-being and technological progress, inscribing an endless haiku inspired by both sensory and material study. “We are a historic brand, and we have a very important heritage,” explains Giuliano Zezza, “Our vision is very product-oriented, and the research needed to develop that to the fullest. We rely on our Institute of Sport Science in the city of Kobe, Japan, where all our products are designed and tested. The ISS allows us to make a difference in the marketplace, but Japan means much more to ASICS than this futuristic hub – it is in our DNA, the cornerstone of the company’s vision. Kaizen and Omotenashi, for example, represent two concepts that have seeped into the brand’s philosophy. The former stands for continuous improvement, the latter for hospitality and mindfulness. We want to care for every consumer, creating footwear suitable for as many athletes, enthusiasts, speeds, terrains, and supports as possible. Kaizen and Omotenashi, then, also embody relationships within the company and the bonds between the various employees….”

The balance of body and mind passes through Kobe’s labs, certainly, but also through the absolute awareness of sports and physical activity as a means to improve lives, Giuliano Zezza says. After all, performance and personal best can go hand-in-hand with calmness and comfort, as demonstrated by the modern revolution of the Superblast 2 and the new features of the iconic Gel-Nimbus 26 and Gel-Kayano 31: model-manifestos of the special ‘Celebration of Sport’ collection, which we saw on the feet of ASICS FrontRunners Riccardo De Anna, Cecilia Sabbadini and Thierry Adjetey. “This is our international community, made up of runners of various levels, which is very important for us because we can better understand the contemporary world of running. ASICS FrontRunners are our ambassadors and testers. By testing shoes every day, their feedback is very important to us because it helps us improve. We want ASICS consumers to continue to feel safe and good about themselves. Comfort definitely helps clear the mind and pursue the goal of all-around personal health. Only specific products can give runners the right comfort, which is why we periodically improve our most iconic shoes. At the same time, we are definitely expanding the number of our models, trying to provide the right shoe for every need.”

“ASICS wants to give everyone the opportunity to play sports in the best way possible, from pros to amateurs,” Zezza concludes, coming full circle to that ethical path embarked upon by his company in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, we see that path transposed in the ‘Celebration of Sport’ collection. “Inclusiveness is and always will lie at the heart of our choices.”


The Eleganza of the number 10, collectable edition

Calcetto Eleganza turns 10, and a unique collection of cards celebrates the history of the Milan community and its new jerseys

It’s the early 1960s, Modena. Giuseppe Panini looked over at his brother Franco. “I want to make collectable cards,” he said. It was the beginning of a simple yet enlightened sport, social, even artistic rebellion. 2014, Milan. “Non per sport ma per moda” – “Not for sport but for fashion”. This sarcastic claim kicked off a different kind of revolution with a common denominator, Calcetto Eleganza.

Football as the muse, creativity the matrix, and community as the outcome. At its prestigious 10th anniversary, the Eleganza project continues to evolve and expand, say co-founders Davide Di Martino, Nicolò Riggio, Marco Gardenale and Aldo Giordano, without compromising its essence. An essence made of everything Milanese and cosmopolitan, where football fetishes like Pato, Francescoli and Busquets go hand in hand with the eclecticism of Satisfy, Daft Punk and Achille Castiglioni. Where the Beautiful Game sits center stage without really being the main character, instead becoming the summit of a constantly renewing pyramid of sports.

Decked out in its new jerseys, entirely self-produced for the first time in the project’s history, Eleganza reveals itself as a universe of different nationalities, careers, visions, trends and personalities. Like an album of collectable cards to leaf through. Like the number 10, the most timeless and elegant number there is.

Luca Di Marco

Favorite team and player.

Catania and Inter, my city’s team and my family’s team. Inter took me in when I moved to Milan. Mariano Izco and Ivan Zamorano. Despite the criticism, the former was the soul of Catania. The latter because I love killer wingmen – the ones who can do it all but stay out of the spotlight– and the mystique of 1+8.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Nike, because of all it’s represented over the years, and Umbro, because it raised the bar for football aesthetics. Domenico Romeo, because he was the first designer of the Calcetto Eleganza logo. I still have our first emails….

Eleganza.

Eleganza is as much about how you perform on the field as in the locker room. It is a way of being together, a passion that combines football, community, style and fashion. In the beginning, Elegance stood for irony and brotherhood, then it progressed and took on other meanings.

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

It was necessary. We were all following streetwear trends, as well as those related to sports and urban culture. There was a lot going on around us. We took advantage of the historical moment and the city of Milan, and we were able to create a platform that could bring together a group of creative people in love with football. 

The number 10.

It makes me think of times past. I’m talking about footballers with flair and creativity, who put their characteristics before everything else. So, I’m not talking about me. It’s those players who could no longer exist today. And then I think about our milestone. The longevity of Calcetto Eleganza surprises me: years have passed, and generations have changed, but Eleganza continues to generate interest.

In your life, on the pitch.

I’m creative. I founded and work in a media agency. Instinct is something I look for and follow both in my profession and on the field. Let’s just say I stick to projects and opponents.   

The locker room.

I am the old ‘Patrón’ rooting on the young people. I’ve been doing that from the beginning of the project. 

The Eleganza jerseys.

The vertical gold stripes are the new, and definitely Elegante, element that distinguishes both colorways.

Alice Marta Azzolini

Favorite team and player.

I don’t really follow football; I’m part of Eleganza Cycling, the cycling branch of Eleganza. So, I would say Alfonsina Strada.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Italian ‘market’ brands and Antonio Gramsci, or maybe Silvia Federici.

Eleganza.

It is a welcoming group of people who can transform macho sports like football or cycling and make them inclusive. Before Eleganza, I had a lot of fear connected with cycling, descents, etc. Without them, I wouldn’t be a cyclist.

Why Eleganza Cycling.

When they opened this new branch, I joined right away. I had just recently started cycling and always disliked sports settings that were really only interested in performance; Eleganza was the only platform that gave me the opportunity to have collective experiences and not just workouts.

The number 10.

In Milan, 10 years is an eternity. Now there are crews and communities in any sport, but the environment was very different in 2014. I think the important thing is to really do things. In these 10 years, Eleganza has done so much, and the project has evolved a great deal. It’s beautiful, then, that there are increasingly more sports outside of football. 

In your life, on the road.

I’m a content designer. In this group, I’m the one who shows up on time, always stays up-to-date.

The locker room.

I play the role of feminist, though everyone is sensitive to the issue. I’m the one focused most on the small battles for inclusivity in sports.

The Eleganza jerseys.

Black is always elegant. Then, it makes them Elegante that we’re the ones wearing them.

Alberto Panocchi

Favorite team and player.

Milan and ‘Sheva’, the second Milan shirt of my life: it was counterfeit and had the number 32. It was given to me before they confirmed number 7.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Levi’s. I like iconic brands with real stories behind them. Virgil Abloh, who influenced me a lot and, for a while, I followed him like a groupie. I could also add Luca Benini, the founder of Slam Jam, who really inspired me. 

Eleganza.

Harmony. Things that don’t clash, with consistency. Calcetto Eleganza fits this definition: it’s made up of harmonious, balanced people. Maybe I’m the only one who’s not.

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

Because I wanted to play football with people where we can talk about everything but football. When the project started, we were almost all creative people who had recently got to Milan. We had different stories and backgrounds and so much to share. Today, I’m proud to see the personal paths we’ve taken during these years. And I’m equally proud to see how much the community has grown.

The number 10.

There are different interpretations of this number. I feel like a 10 off the field: the 10 that turns the night around, that gets things going. 10 also makes me think of aging, or better, maturing. Over the years, we’ve accomplished a lot but I’ve also got some obvious regrets. We could have seized on more opportunities, but I’m aware that, for better or worse, all of us get caught up in the work and dynamics of Milan. That said, I’m proud that we’re there, and we’re recognized. My wish, for the future, is that Calcetto Eleganza does get taken for granted.

In your life, on the pitch.

My job description says Experience Manager, but I don’t really know how well that explains my role. Let’s just say I put things together. On the field, however, I enjoy making a save more than scoring a goal. I feel like I’m responsible for my actions between the posts.

The locker room.

First there’s the locker room, then the field and the results. Victory is a consequence of collaboration, the camaraderie you build with your teammates. Let me give an example that means a lot to me: the regional junior championship I won with Montecosaro, a small team from the Marche region. We weren’t the strongest, but we went out every day together, there was this magical chemistry. I saw the same thing in Pioli’s Milan, in a different proportion, obviously.

The Eleganza jerseys.

I imagine them all together in a team photo. The work in gold and black definitely creates that Eleganza effect. And then there’s the satisfaction of making it by ourselves. Of making our second skin.

Chuck George

Favorite team and player.

New York Red Bulls. No favorite player.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Studio Nicholson or Supreme, but I prefer vintage. Songwriter Sturgill Simpson.

Eleganza.

I can only say one word, Eleganza. Molta Eleganza. Bellissima Eleganza (with American pronunciation ed).

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

We met through a collaboration. We showed World Cup matches in my restaurant and created a special T-shirt. The concept behind that design was the power of the Beautiful Game and the fact that it is an eternal ‘childhood’ love. I have always played baseball, and on a sociocultural level, football plays the same role here. That’s why I’m fascinated by it.

The number 10.

It’s still youth. Only the beginning.

In your life, on the pitch.

I own Chuck’s restaurant; we’re in Milan, Rome, Paris, and soon in London. My role in Calcetto Eleganza is community builder and foreign friend.

The locker room.

I play the fool; I love to prank everyone and rile them up. 

The Eleganza jerseys.

One more word, Eleganza (again with US pronunciation ed). The white, the black, the gold, the pinstripes. They remind me of Yankees jerseys.

Elisa Carassai

Favorite team and player.

When I was growing up, my mother would do the blood tests for Juve, so I’m a fan of the Del Piero golden era.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Simon Rocha. Donna Tartt or Ann Carson.

Eleganza.

Creating a community through friendship and shared passions.

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

They ended up in my life by accident during the lockdown. Then we started hanging out together. So, it started as a friendship,  and only later we came up with different ways to collaborate, both editorially and musically.

The number 10.

It makes me think of a milestone, of building an important community that can reach across different areas. It’s 10 years of international connections, of building a network of creative people around the world. From Milan, Athens, London, Paris and Stockholm…. It’s really great that, through sports, we can also celebrate so much more.

In your life, on the pitch.

I run an independent magazine called Sali e Tabacchi Journal. I founded it a few years ago in London while studying. This project brought me back home, to Milan, where I’m also doing editorial and strategy consulting for fashion brands. Eleganza allows me to develop creative endeavors, like music projects for Radio Raheem and Radio Bandalarga, and create cultural and community activities. The idea is to maneuver around sports and creativity in a common field.

The locker room.

I feel like I’m the connector. I really enjoy connecting people and making real connections.

The Eleganza jerseys.

Eleganza is in the colors and, of course, the way you wear them, as well as personal styling.

Davide Coppo

Favorite team and player.

Milan and Andriy Shevchenko.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Everything Massimo Osti has done. Winfried Sebald.

Eleganza.

Attention to detail.

Why Football Eleganza.

When I first met the guys, I liked the idea of using football as a vehicle to create community, to bring people together around a field, a table, or a screen,. Over the years, I’ve really met so many people.

The number 10.

It’s creativity, of course. And it’s a long time, 10 years. Years where we’ve remained friends. Years where everything has moved faster and faster, but the Eleganza project continues on its path. It makes me think of slowness in a good way. 

In your life, on the pitch.

I’m a writer, and I reflect on the pitch; I’m always thinking. And the goalkeeper also has too much time to think…. 

The locker room.

I like it a lot. It has always allowed me to see the positive sides of people, and even the positive sides of negative aspects.

The Eleganza jerseys.

They follow a typical Eleganza feature: the desire to bring non-football patterns and designs into football. In this case, there is also the courage of making them black and white, and the responsibility of having self-produced them.

Xheni Ballin

Favorite team and player.

I play, but I don’t watch football. You guys can choose the coolest female soccer player and team for me.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Maison Margela and Emilia Nardi, a friend of mine. Egon Schiele.

Eleganza.

In football, it’s verbal and non-verbal communication. Here, it lies simply in the phrase ‘cool as fuck.’

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

I discovered it through a friend. I’m not from Milan and I used to play soccer in America, so it was nice to meet such a community. Even though I only knew one person, I immediately felt part of the team. 

The number 10.

When something is around for 10 years, it is here to stay. If you survive that long, nothing can stop you.

In your life, on the pitch.

I’m a photographer and writer and about to publish my Intense Magazine project. I also work in digital marketing. I think all our professions and passions are reflected on the field; it’s like everyone here has an artistic streak.

The locker room.

I’m the DJ, I put on the music.

The Eleganza jerseys.

Eleganza is in the gold details and lettering; they are perfect for a 10th anniversary. 

Maximiliano Nicolas Ruiz

Favorite team and player.

Fc Internazionale. Since I was born in Buenos Aires, it would be obvious to say Diego Armando Maradona, so I’ll say Enzo Francescoli.

Favorite brand and creative person.

Acne Studios. Donald Judd.

Eleganza.

It lies in the phrase ‘power is nothing without control’ (laughs ed.).

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

As friends we played together. We just happened to all be a part of the creative universe. Creative people often say football is uninteresting; for us it was different. On Sundays we watched the games. It’s been a shared passion that brought about everything else.

The number 10.

I played professional football until I was 23. So, the 10 has been part of my imagination since childhood. I would go to bed at night hoping to wear that number, and score. It is symbolic; it expresses so much. The other feeling is that we’re getting older, but I’m glad that so many friends are carrying on and passing on that vision of football: of playing on Saturday mornings, of being 60 years old and still kicking around a football… sheer beauty.

In your life, on the court.

I am founder of A Wolves Agency, a production and communications agency that also works in football. On the field, I’m commanding, always looking for the ball and to be right, but in an honest way. 

The locker room.

When I was young, I was always on the sidelines, I needed my own space. Growing up, it became the same when I’m with a group.

The Eleganza jerseys.

The black and gold are classic, timeless Eleganza. The collar makes me think of football that’s a bit more intellectual.

Tommaso Naccari

Favorite team and player.

Inter, though my dad’s a Milanista and my mother’s a Genoan, or better, anti-Sampdorian. Ronaldo ‘the Phenomeno’, my first sticker. A name from today, Denzel Dumfries. 

Favorite brand and creative person.

Stüssy. Eric André.

Eleganza.

It is what gravitates around football, from the idea of community to style to all the talismans that populate this sporting universe. Eleganza means erasing football objectivity.

Why Calcetto Eleganza.

I’m a pretty bad footballer, so I’m the one who should be asking the others…. Jokes aside, Eleganza is developed on the pitch, but there’s a lot more going on besides that. All kinds of approaches to football are interesting to me.

The number 10.

Although I hate to be nostalgic, I think of Baggio. Then, I get envious because 10 is the apotheosis of being able to play football: something I can’t do very well. Finally, it’s the goal of a project I have been part of for more than half its life. I’ve seen it change, open to other sports and evolve. It is nice that there are things like this that have ‘excuses’ to bring people together.

In your life, on the pitch.

I tend to write, even if it sounds pompous. I hope I’m better at writing than playing on the field. My contact point is in the confusion; it’s working and playing in controlled chaos.

The locker room.

I’m the joker, no doubt. I love to laugh at and with myself.

The Eleganza jerseys.

The idea that a football jersey can be primarily a garment is what defines Calcetto Eleganza. The 10th anniversary jerseys are the perfect example of this concept. I also like that the word Eleganza takes the main sponsor’s position.

Photo credits:

Nicolò Rinaldi

Text by

Gianmarco Pacione


KAPPA AND THE USA JOB

Thanks to a million-dollar napkin, Kappa dressed the golden generation of American athletics and changed sports technology forever

Some might be accused of excess nostalgia, others of willful self-regard. It is undeniable, however, that those who associate the 1980s with unparalleled sports aesthetics do so with good reason. Kappa played a leading role In that magical vortex of bright colors and technical innovations, succeeding in a feat that, in retrospect, bordered on the impossible.

This becomes clear in our third and final story dedicated to BasicGallery’s kaleidoscopic archive. Here, iconic soccer jerseys and precious historical artifacts from Maglificio Calzificio Calzificio Torinese, the Italian matron of Kappa, give space to a hypnotic gallery inspired by the track and its relationship with 222BANDA.

Willie Banks and Kappa

THE MILLION-DOLLAR NAPKIN

It is 1981, and Jesus Jeans, one of the many creations from Maurizio Vitale and Marco Boglione, land on American soil. Like so many of their ideas, it stood at the crossroads of lifestyle and marketing. Alas, the irreverent posters shot by Oliviero Toscani and the provocative, sometimes scandalous claims designed by Emanuele Pirella were not enough to position the brand in the turbulent overseas market.

Jesus Jeans even made it to Russia at the beginning of the decade, filling the void left by Levi’s for obvious political reasons (just think of the U.S. boycott at the Moscow ’80 Olympics). Despite the sociopolitical complexities, Jesus Jeans ended up at the doorstep of the U.S. National Track & Field Team. Like so many Kappa stories, reality blends with fairy tale. The story goes that Vitale was dining with Ollan Cassell, president and top dog of US Track & Field. They were negotiating Kappa’s sponsorship for the upcoming Olympics. Near the end of the meal, Vitale slides over a napkin with “$1 million” written on it. Cassel signed it, shook Vitale’s hand, and Kappa became the technical sponsor of a generation of athletes.

As it had just a handful of years earlier with Boniperti and Juventus, Kappa officially bound its identity to an impressive universe of athletes, in almost all cases destined for greatness.

Kappa Club Lookbook
USA Track and Field National Team uniforms at BasicGallery archive
Kappa USA Olympic Team Tracksuit
Kappa U.S. ONE GIUGIARO (1984)
Kappa World Cup Lookbook
Olympic Colours Book

LOS ANGELES ’84, DR. KUZNETZ AND SPACE ON THE TRACK

Los Angeles 1984 was not just an Olympic location but a Hollywood musical. And on the brilliant stage of the Memorial Coliseum, Kappa served as much a costume designer as a paradigm of progress. American dominance, highlighted by 83 golds, was no doubt facilitated by the boycott of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries. That being said, the U.S. superheroes were also transported into a new dimension of performance by the Omini and their surprising relationship with NASA scientist Lawrence Kuznetz.

From Apollo 11 to the 100 meters, Kuznetz drew inspiration from space suits to design uniforms that, to this day, are remembered both for their aesthetic quality and pioneering functionality. The visionary NASA mastermind chose the color silver, ideal for reflecting light and regulating the athletes’ temperature, thus avoiding heat spikes. At the same time, he applied bioengineering knowledge in overlaying three layers of fabric: the first, permeable, is made of synthetic fiber; the second, hydrophilic, absorbs sweat; and the third, reflective, disperses solar heat and prevents its accumulation in the athletes’ bodies.

The outcome of that unlikely mixture of aerospace science and sports imagination is epitomized in the achievements of giants like the ‘Son of the Wind,’ Carl Lewis, matching the legend Jesse Owens and wining the 100, 200 meters, long jump and 4×100, and Edwin Moses, the 13-step artist and the greatest hurdler in history, who won his second Olympic gold medal in LA. On the women’s side, Valerie Briso-Hooks triumped in the 200 and 400 meters, adding the 4×400 to her list of achievements. It was a star-studded triumph. It was a Kappa triumph.

Kappa Los Angeles 84 Olympic Games Logo Detail
Carl Lewis
Edwin Moses
Kappa Designs x LA '84
Kappa sweatshirt x Los Angeles '84
Kappa Sport LA '84 films at BasicGallery archive

FROM LA TO SEOUL ’88, MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE 222BAND

If in Los Angeles Florence Griffith-Joyner’s picturesque fingernails had stopped at the second step of the 200-meter podium, four years later, in the South Korean Olympics in Seoul, they found ecstasy instead. Flo-Jo is not only the fastest woman in the world, hegemonizing 100, 4×100 and 200 meters, where she sets a world record of 21″34, but in the lanes of the Seoul Olympic Stadium she spreads the word of aesthetic eclecticism.

Her hooded race uniform, branded Kappa, enters the minds of millions of viewers, continuing a creative thread that sees, even today, the American sprinter as one of the most celebrated fashion experimenters in the sports scene. The 222BANDA, this time applied to the sides of predominantly red-colored kits, albeit difficult to identify in front of the screen, paints the colossal challenge between the U.S., East Germany and the Soviet Union. U.S. athletics won 94 overall medals (36 golds), but struggled, and not a little, in the maelstrom of a symbolic sports Cold War, which saw the Soviets and Germans prevail in the final medal count.

Flo-Jo’s stamina is once again indulged by the magnetic wonder of Carl Lewis, who first wins the long jump and then, after the Ben Johnson doping affair, is also honored with gold in the 100 meters. Only compatriot Joe DeLoach prevents the perfect athlete from sealing a hat trick including the 200 meters. In the clouds of Seoul, Lewis is followed by long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who allows the Little Men to soar 7.40 meters, setting a new Olympic record.

Florence Griffith-Joyner in a Kappa uniform
USA Track and Field National Team pants x L.A . 1984
USA Track and Field National Team jersey x L.A. 1984
Carl Lewis and Robe di Kappa

FROM FIVE CIRCLES TO CONTEMPORARY FASHION

Seoul ’88 was, however, anything but a celebration for Kappa, forced to mourn the untimely death of its guiding spirit Maurizio Vitale (who had died just a year earlier) and a future that, before Marco Boglione’s big comeback in 1994, was shaping up to be anything but rosy. The union between 222BANDA and Team Track&Field US, however, is unaffected by BasicNet’s subsequent period of crisis and brand-pin rebuilding.

The images of Lewis, Moses, Flo-Jo and colleagues remain, in fact, indelible in the catalog of 80s pop culture and allow Kappa to maintain an untouchable allure until contemporary times, when high fashion, never before inspired by the sports element, decides to pay homage to that double Olympic expedition and here timeless kits.

We could mention the 222BANDA used by Marcelo Burlon or Danilo Paura within collections in which the echoes of LA and Seoul are evident, but we prefer to devote one last space to the synergy with photographer and designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, with whom Kappa developed, in 2017, a cobranding project clearly connected to the Kappa-US athletics synergy.

Some of the garments conceived by the Moscow native are true re-propositions of US kits in Russian sauce. A strange mixture of stories, colors and idioms that, in the end, confirms and concretizes the syllogism conveyed by BasicGallery’s evocative archive. Sport is universal. Sport is Kappa. Kappa is universal.

Kappa advertorial
Kappa x Federazione Italiana Canottaggio
Kappa x USA Track and Field National Team at LA '84
Joan Benoit, marathon gold medal at LA '84

Game Changers – Keen

“WE'RE NOT HERE JUST TO MAKE SHOES"

With this mantra, Keen Footwear has always stood as an inspiration in the wardrobe of every dynamic family, a beacon for men, women and children who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Founded in 2003 in Alameda, California, by Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst, this American footwear and accessories company has won the hearts of “Outside People” worldwide through its charity-centered mission and innovative designs. But where did its story begin? Keen Footwear started with a reinterpretation of the old saying, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

KEEN FW23 Zionic

SANDALS & SAILINGS: THE NEWPORT STORY

Martin Keen grew up in the southwest of England, steeped in the world of footwear due to his father’s work at the famous British footwear brand, Clarks. His personal journey took him from Ireland to America, where his love of sailing – inherited from his father – lit the spark that would give rise to Keen Footwear. Among the roaring ocean waves, Martin was constantly faced with a dilemma: finding footwear that was practical and, most importantly, protected his feet from impact. This led to the idea of a shoe with enough toe room that hugged the foot rather than squeezing it uncomfortably. In 2003, through a collaboration with Rory Fuerst, the famous Newport Sandal was born, an innovation that took the industry by storm, earning the title of “Launch of the Year” from the prestigious Footwear News magazine.

KEEN Uneek SS24
Uneek Year of the Dragon Campaign

Since then, Keen has embraced not only the goal of revolutionizing footwear, but of creating a positive impact in every aspect of its business. In a short time, the company gained a reputation by supporting numerous charitable causes, fully embodying the brand’s philosophy of fostering innovation and creating new opportunities.

This is how the “Keen Effect” was born, a wave of change that propagates through every step the brand takes.

KEEN SS24

WHAT IS THE KEEN EFFECT ?

The Keen Effect springs from an echo of love for humanity and nature. It is a call for hope from the world of footwear. It all began again from the ocean, in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, when Keen proved that love can be expressed through concrete actions: The California Brand dedicated its entire advertising budget of one million dollars to help the Asian population, a first gesture that gave birth to the “Keen Effect” program. Since then, together with like-minded organizations such as The Conservation Alliance, 1 KG More, Leave No Trace and Big City Mountaineers, Keen has been dancing in the harmony of charity, offering protective footwear around the world to those in need and comfort to communities devastated by natural disasters, catastrophes and wars.

As confirmed by Chiara Tassi, head of brand management, marketing, communications and events for KEEN in Italy, who we had the pleasure of interviewing. She talked about the “Keen Effect” in Europe and how the brand started supporting communities with sizeable donations during the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine in March 2022.

KEEN Volunteer
KEEN Volunteers

In this symphony of selflessness, Keen is committed to preserving the soul of the Earth, engaging its community in protecting our beloved planet: Every step taken in a Keen shoe is a step toward sustainability, a declaration of love to Mother Earth. Through the “Chemical Stewardship Program,” Keen embraces ecology, eliminating the most harmful toxins, giving Nature a breath of fresh air, and promoting a future with various recycling and reuse programs, such as Uneek’s P.E.T. plastic ropes (one of the brand’s latest footwear designs), showing us that beauty can be reborn from the ashes of consumerism.

This year, the Uneek sandal-sneaker celebrates a decade of innovation, unique style and unbeatable comfort with a series of exclusive workshops at official Italian KEEN Footwear partner retailers. The next event will be staged at the Urbanstar store in Rome on May 31 where, from 6 to 9 p.m., after a brief introduction about the KEEN brand and the Uneek model, participants will be able to customize their own open-air sneaker by choosing laces and accessories, expressing all their creativity.

Keen Europe SS24
Uneek KEEN SS24

KEEN IN EUROPE AND ITALY

Our conversation with Chiara gave us an idea of how the Keen Effect is more than just a program or initiative; it is the heart and soul of the brand, a call to sustainability, responsibility, and love for the Earth. In a world hungry for change, Keen offers us a guide to a brighter future, where excellence in footwear excellence combines with the promise of a revitalized planet.

“We’ve basically been here in Europe from the beginning (2003)  through a distributor in Germany. But we opened our European headquarters in Rotterdam in 2008 and moved to our current location in 2019.”

“We try to adapt our concept of Consciously Created to every country; Keen was born with this philosophy and we want to stay true to its principles. This is especially important now that we’ve noticed a difference in how this concept is conceived in America, where our identity is better known and much stronger, as opposed to Europe. Here, that concept has been somewhat lost as the brand has been associated more with lifestyle, introducing products that are not strictly outdoors and that move into the world of fashion. As a result, this central concept of the brand has shone through less, partly because sustainability is not always communicated fully in fashion contexts. That is why Keen has recently made a point of emphasizing this to us, and that they will continue to promote their mission in Europe as well”.

KEEN Unkeen SS24
KEEN Europe SS24
KEEN Europe SS24
KEEN Zionic SS24

As a matter of fact, if we look at the map of Keen’s initiatives in Europe we find a kaleidoscope of tangible actions: the reforestation of lush Sierra Lujar in Órgiva, southern Spain; the canals of Amsterdam, transformed into a stage for environmental awareness thanks to a boat created from recycled waste; solidarity toward Ukrainian refugees, symbolized by more than 150,000 euros in immediate aid donated just days after the Russian invasion. Each Keen gesture is a tapestry of compassion and commitment, a ray of hope that spans continents and brings people together.

What kind of initiatives are in the works for Italy in 2024?

“Precisely because the Keen Effect is adapted differently to each country, one initiative we’d like to do in Italy, in collaboration with our retailers and local nonprofits, is to clean up the beaches. We’ve done this in other countries; we invite consumers to take part, spend time all together afterwards and have a kind of giveaway. I think we’ll do this at the end of the summer or beginning of October. The idea is to make direct connections with Italians through real initiatives. It’s nice to post it on social media and communicate it on the marketing side, but until you demonstrate it concretely through real involvement, you’ll never truly get what Keen is all about.”

In a world of greenwashing and where brand promises often turn out to be empty words, Keen stands as a beacon of authenticity. It shows us that actions, not words, shape our future. In a sea of eco-marketing, Keen emerges as an island of trust and true commitment.

KEEN Uneek SS24

Photo Credits:

KEEN Europe

Text by:


You don't know who Dennis Rodman is

Demons and sorrows, tears and sensitivity. The 'Worm' of basketball is not who you think, he never was

It’s easy to fall into oversimplification, into the easy narrative when we talk about Dennis Rodman. It’s easy to think only of his histrionic poise, his media following, his need to push the boundaries all the time.

It is all smoke and mirrors, all bait for those who seek superficiality. The truths of the ‘Worm’ are not these. They are hidden phrases and emotions, they are eternally present demons, insecurities to be disguised in the eyes of the world.

You don’t know who Dennis Rodman is. You cannot know.

Dennis Rodman signing autographs

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORM

Before the choreographic bounces, the Madonna liaison, and the extreme late nights. Before. Before all this Dennis Rodman is an out-of-focus Texas kid. He lives in a working-class Dallas neighborhood, in a house of pink tyranny, heavily conditioned by his sisters and mother. His father abandoned the family shortly after the birth of his only son, ended up in the Philippines running a bar, producing another 30 or so children.

Dennis dresses as a woman, does so in front of his own bedroom mirror. He is helped by his sisters, allows them to adorn his body, to draw his lips with lipstick. He begins to live and live with another version of himself.

On the streets of Dallas, he is not known; in fact, along his teenage years he turns out to be something of a ghost. Not liked by himself, not liked by others. Young Dennis is stuck in a limbo of general disinterest, he is a nothing, a human being without direction, abandoned on the fringes of society.

He does not excel in sports, unlike his sisters. His life is filled with long solitudes and games of pinball. It is precisely this passion that generates his nickname: ‘Worm’, because he constantly moves during each game.

Dennis Rodman in drag
Dennis Rodman

He is cut from the high school football team, on the basketball team he finds no room: he is puny and until the age of 18 barely exceeds 5 feet 7 inches. He finds himself lost among thoughts of an uncertain future and an anonymous, colorless present.

Rodman seeks a smile in those around him; it is the only goal he sets for himself, the only goal he desperately pursues. He wants to be accepted, he wants to be loved. This is precisely why he ends up in prison: a night in a cell shortly after graduation. He steals watches from an airport store, where he’s working as a night handyman. Once back in his neighborhood he gives the watches to so-called friends. Airport police drop the charges because there is no tangible sale of the watches.

Dennis Rodman photographed at book signing in New York on 21st August 1996

A HOMELESS YOUNG MAN IN COLLEGE

At home, the mother can’t stand a son with no interest in life. So, she kicks him out of her life. Rodman begins to wander, lost in an unstable universe.

“I slept at the homes of people I knew, I slept in parks, I slept behind a 24/7 store. During the day I walked around, didn’t know what to do.”

Nature mysteriously gives almost 25 inches to Rodman between the ages of 18 and 20. The ‘Worm’ starts playing basketball again, back in the only oasis of a life of turmoil and negativity. At the threshold of 22 comes interest from a remote college in Oklahoma. Rodman packs everything and says goodbye to Dallas.

At Southeastern Oklahoma State University he debuts with 24 points and 19 rebounds. “I hope I didn’t let you down,” he says at his coach at the end of almost every game. Rodman needs approval – it’s an intense, dramatic need

Dennis Rodman in: Bad As I Wanna Be.

In a small town of just over 720 people he meets his first, real family. They are the Rich, some white local farmers. He befriends the youngest of their children, a 13-year-old boy. Rodman is shy and introverted, able to confide only in that young boy. They sleep together, play together, work on the farm together.

It is his way of regaining a lost adolescence. It is his way to feel part of something real. Rodman goes so far as to ask the Rich family for adoption. On the court, meanwhile, the oasis becomes a battleground. Basketball is something natural in the ‘Worm’s’ muscular and mental chords. He grabs rebounds voraciously, runs the hardwood like a gazelle. He is an overflowing, cataclysmic force on the collegiate circuit, and become an All American.

“When they told me I was going to be honored as an All American, I asked what that meant. I didn’t know what they were talking about.”

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman

THE NBA AND THE RODMAN NO ONE REMEMBERS

Rodman arrives in Detroit at the age of 25. He immediately gives the impression of being a sweet, innocent 15-year-old to the Pistons family. “He was the typical guy who would order a glass of milk in the clubs,” John Salley revealed. Rodman finds in Chuck Daly the father figure he never had. At the coach’s house he spends Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday parties. In the Bad Boys he sees a magical alchemy emerging, another family to rely on.

On the hardwood the ‘Worm’ reveals unpredictable qualities. He has endless energy, is a free spirit, plays hard, flies through the frontcourt in search of a lost ball, and is loved by the Motor City and his teammates. The Pistons collective drags Rodman into an ecstatic period, and the unexpected confidence exalts him.

Rodman signature Converse All-Star Shoes
Dennis Rodman with the Detroit Pistons

He dominates every rebound, studies every trajectory, and erects impassable defensive walls. “He is the first player able to be idolized without scoring,” the national media say of him. Basketball for Rodman is not a business; basketball is about bonds and brotherhood. He goes on to win two NBA titles, alongside his mentor Isiah Thomas. He also gets the award for best defensive player of the year: during the press conference he bursts into tears.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END, OR THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING

Then he collapses. A vertical, uncontrolled collapse. The Bad Boys disband, Chuck Daly resigns. Depression takes over the mind of Dennis Rodman. On February 11, 1993, he is found asleep, inside the Palace of Auburn Hills parking lot, with a shotgun pointed at his head. Demons and ghosts, pain and anger.

“From that point forward my mindset changed to Fuck the World.”

A few months later he moves to San Antonio, the Spurs wants him with the ‘Admiral’ Robinson. Rodman arrives at the presentation with his hair dyed straw yellow, emulating the character played by Wesley Snipes in ‘Demolition Man.’ He grabs the microphone, shouts “I’m here to be solid!” and throws it to the floor.

Something is changing, something has changed. In Texas Rodman begins to descend into a vortex of forced exhibitionism and total freedom. The Rodman character is born, the iconoclast, the rebel, the superstar who flirts with Madonna.

The ‘Worm’ dyes his hair, cross-dresses, confides to Sports Illustrated that he has gay fantasies. And he associates with the LGBTQ+ community. He alternates between real words and cartoonish parodies of a social activist. He starts drinking, a lot. He drifts, and the Spurs locker room fails to understand the true needs of this troubled boy.

“His basketball had become more of a performance art than a sports art.”

Cohabitation with David Robinson doesn’t work; Rodman is constantly ejected and suspended. His restlessness is poured out against referees and opponents. It can’t work. A new father figure is needed, a new family context is needed.

Dennis Rodman with the San Antonio Spurs
Dennis Rodman in San Antonio

THE BULLS JOURNEY

Phil Jackson’s Bulls contact him shortly after MJ’s comeback. The Zen master asks Rodman if he is okay with joining the Chicago organization. Rodman tells him he doesn’t give a shit. “We’ve got a deal then,” the coach-prophet says.

Rodman asks Scottie Pippen’s forgiveness for his treatment in previous years, and becomes a superstar. Under the glasses he picks up every rebound, with unparalleled style and power. In the Winter triangle he proves he is not only a predator, but also a fine brain.

The 3 consecutive NBA titles come with the respect of ‘His Airness,’ idolized from day one in the gym, but they’re also lived with an insane life. The Bulls allow Rodman to live free more than 20 hours a day. Chicago bars watch him drink dozens of beers in a single night, 40 shots of jagermeister in just over an hour. A few hours later Rodman reaches the training center, with the Reebok shoes in his hands, ready to pour out every drop of sweat. He is not human, he is a special man.

1998 Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman during Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the New Jersey Nets
Dennis Rodman in 1996/97 Chicago Bulls vs Seattle Supersonics Playoff Series

Rodman’s so-called self-centeredness peaks in the Bulls years. He goes so far as to marry himself on the occasion of the release of his own autobiography ‘Bad as I wanna be’. Many claim that in the three-year period ’96-’97-’98 the ‘Worm’ comes to be more popular than MJ himself. Then the lights go out. Again.

From left: Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc

THE CONFUSION, THE TEARS, THE DICTATOR

Rodman is broken at the core, he is a vase broken by the shards scattered who knows where. The seasons in the Lakers and Mavericks are the manifesto of a lost man.

“I am not capable of love.”

The family scenario that had so negatively scarred Rodman is replaced by himself. He snubs his first daughter, still born in his Detroit days, and his other two children born at the turn of the 2000s. Love is an unsolvable riddle for Rodman, a puzzle that finds the right combinations only in a few public appearances – interviews that show his suffering, his tears, his inability to build a real fatherly relationship.

Rodman cries. He often does so. He gives the cameras regrets and fears. He is locked in a persona created who knows how, in a reflection of himself, meant to please the outside world. There are those who mock his status, those who mock his delirious speeches, those who label him as a relic of a forgotten pop world.

In the relational and human carousel, the ‘Worm’ strikes up a friendship with dictator Kim Jong-un. It is a surreal relationship that sees the former number 91 visit Pyongyang several times, playing as a self-proclaimed U.S. diplomat.

Rodman also plays a key role in the release of an American prisoner. Sometimes reality can overcome fantasy.

Dennis Rodman in: Bad As I Wanna Be
Dennis Rodman in 1997

DENNIS RODMAN, A HUMAN BEING

His speech during the induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame is a heartfelt acceptance. “I have not been a good father. I have not been a good son.” Today Dennis Rodman is trying to overcome his demons, his past: a real battle in the depths of his own personality.

We can’t know whether he will succeed, just as we can’t know who Dennis Rodman actually is at age 62. What we know is that the ‘Worm’ has always been more than a rebounder. More than his hair. More than Madonna.

Dennis Rodman has always been a lonely man harassed by the outside world, an individual with powerful and painful inner storms – a human being, just like all of us. More than all of us.

Credits

Gianmarco Pacione

IMAGO / ZUMA Wire / Icon Sportswire / Avalon.red / Pond5 Images / United Archives / MediaPunch / HJS / Camera 4 / POP-EYE


KAPPA AND FOOTBALL, AESTHETICS RHYME WITH PROGRESS AND INNOVATION

From the first, historic sponsorship of Juventus, to Kombat technology and contemporary fashion: the Little Men who continue to inspire soccer

Endless symbols and meanings converge in a football jersey. History, marketing, culture, faith. The identity card of each team is a book to be discovered season after season, a colorful compendium of pop culture, secular religion and fashion that has never stopped evolving, as well as inspiring fascination and reverence. Sensations that manifest and propagate through the halls of the BasicGallery, where a true football shrine is hosted-a colorful catalog of fabrics and logos capable of tracing the history of modern football and, at the same time, recounting a crucial connection, the one between jerseys and technical sponsors. A bond in which Kappa has played and continues to play a key role, which we decided to analyze in our second focus dedicated to the symbiotic relationship between this brand and the sports imaginary.

Torino Football Club 2014-15

THE VECCHIA, NUOVA SIGNORA AND THE BEGINNING OF ALL

“I want to sponsor you.” “Will you give us the money, or do we have to give it to you?” “We’ll give it to you.” Kappa’s entry into the world of football sponsorship can be summed up in what today, nearly half a century later, takes on the appearance of a joke from the theater of the absurd. In 1978, however, the connection between brands and football clubs was still in its infancy, paralyzed at a stage where nothing (or little) had already happened and everything was yet to come.

In that so near, yet so far away historical context, Maglificio Calzificio Torinese CEO Maurizio Vitale organized a meeting with Giampiero Boniperti, president and legend of Juventus. It is here that the surreal repartee takes shape, and it will forever change the history of Italian football, and beyond. Inspired by the visionary instincts of his Marketing Director Marco Boglione, Vitale proposes an almost unreal partnership between Juventus and the brand-manifesto of Maglificio Calzificio Torinese-a proposal that was so avant-garde as to be almost inconceivable to the most famous Italian club.

Until then, in fact, the Italian Federation (specifically the Promocalcio) had not allowed the inclusion of commercial brands on jerseys, instantly sabotaging some archaic ploys attempted by teams such as Udinese and Perugia.

But the 1978-79 season partially opens the doors to new sponsorship logics. The Federation allows only technical sponsors to appear among the club colors. Kappa, in the form of Robe di Kappa, seizes the opportunity and on December 17, 1978, peeps for the first time on the Juventus jersey. Thus was born a glorious relationship destined to last 22 seasons, 7 Scudetti, 7 national cups, 2 Champions League and 2 Uefa Cups. And a new aesthetic level of Italian soccer is unlocked in this way, as well as an iconic connection that will dress Ballon d’Or and the likes of ‘Pablito’ Rossi, ‘Le Roi’ Platini, Roberto Baggio, Zinédine Zidane and ‘Pinturicchio’ Del Piero.

Juventus Football Club 1980-81
Juventus Football Club 1997-98
Juventus Football Club 1997-98
Juventus Football Club 1999/2000
Juventus Football Club - Kappa gallery
Juventus Football Club 1982-83
BasicGallery - Juventus Football Club archive
Juventus Football Club training jersey from the 80s

FROM THE ICONIC 1980s TO THE GOLDEN 1990s

From Turin to the world. Vitale began his own footballing journey by marrying such excellence of his Turin as the ‘Vecchie Signora,’ accompanying her to her second star and the achievement of magical goals, but he soon opened his horizons wide to other evocative Italian clubs and exotic international football epicenters. Some examples are the Roma of then midfielder Carlo Ancelotti, the Auxerre of the young prince, about to become ‘King’, Éric Cantona, and the noble Dutch realm of Ajax.

The Omini logo quickly became synonymous with success, also linking itself to the fairytale of Sampdoria and the ‘Goal Twins’ Vialli-Mancini, and to the Milan of the ‘Immortals’, led to 2 Champions League by Arrigo Sacchi’s automatisms and the overpowering Dutch trio Van Basten-Gullit-Rijkard. After racking up a long string of winning choices, Kappa continued the amplification of its football influence throughout the 1990s, pushing its partnerships and the imagination of each design higher and higher.

If the Barcelona of ‘The Phenomeno’ Ronaldo and Figo, the Athletic Club of Bilbao and its 100-year history, and the Monaco of the young Henry-Trezeguet pairing represent stages of wonder and sporting excellence in the decade of oversize jerseys, teams such as the Betis of Seville of the oracle Denilson, the Porto of Sérgio Conceição, and Manchester City, still in its proletarian era, instead embody the brand’s desire to go beyond simple marriages for the purpose of victory on the field, and consequent visibility. In fact, Kappa’s creativity changes the perception of jerseys through unexpected and, for that very reason, particularly eclectic synergies.

Just think of the ‘Bafana Bafana,’ the South African national team embraced by Nelson Mandela towards the first World Cup in ’98, and shiny jerseys that intrigue the world. Or to Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Boyz,’ also making their World Cup debut in the French edition, and the vibrant patterns accompanying them on that expedition. And again, to clubs with mystical appeal like Red Star Belgrade, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens, or Vasco da Gama overseas. The fact remains that, in the swirling 1990s, Kappa designs works of art in the form of kits, enriching them with such unique details that they are, even today, unmistakable and unforgettable.

Fútbol Club Barcelona 1996-97
Fußball Club St. Pauli 2001-02
Vintage Fc Barcelona commercial
Iranian National Team jersey x France ‘98
Jamaican National team jersey 2012
Stella Rossa di Belgrado 1997-98
Collezione Ambassador, Maradona
Real Betis Balompié 1998-99
AC Milan 1988-89
South African National team x Africa Cup '96
Unione Calcio Sampdoria 1988-89
Manchester City Football Club 1997-98
Jamaican National team 2012
FC Barcelona 1996-97

222 BAND, THE OMINI CHANGE FOOTBALL RULES

In this fascinating historical time, Kappa’s influence moves threads far beyond the on-field aesthetic, reaching out to touch and change institutional regulations. This is evidenced, for example, by a pitched battle fought off the green turf, that related to the 222 BANDA. The strip of repeating Omini, first applied on Team USA’s Olympic uniforms through an incredible partnership that began in 1981, also moved to the sleeves of some soccer jerseys: on all of those of Juventus and Barcelona.

UEFA, however, prohibits the Turin-based brand from continuing with this artistic and branding solution, appealing to a regulation that stipulates the use of a maximum area of 20 square centimeters for each sponsor on the jersey, space also related to sleeves and sides. The 222 BANDA is, in effect, abolished from football. But Kappa does not accept this limitation, and after a lengthy confrontation with UEFA, which lasted until 2004, manages to change the rules.

Europe’s largest football institution is assessed as guilty of abuse of power, and all sponsors are allowed to print their logos without restriction, as long as they remain within 10-centimeter bands (later reduced to 8) and do not exceed 20 square centimeters in size. The 222 BANDA once again changes the perception of sports. Kappa once again changes the perception of soccer.

Grêmio Foot-Ball 2000-01

THE KOMBAT REVOLUTION WEARS THE AZZURRI

The end of the 1990s marks another milestone in the relationship between the Kappa identity and the soccer universe. Starting in 1999, the Omini logo became fixed on the chest of the Azzurri: the ultimate expression of Italian football. To celebrate this tricolor symbiosis, Kappa also unlocks a new chapter of its myth, presenting a revolution in line with the new millennium: the Kombat jersey.

The Turin-based brand, which had seen Marco Boglione take over its reins in the previous decade, ushers in the 2000s with an unprecedented futuristic product capable of changing the outlook on sports performance. Kombat’s special materials guarantee, in fact, an elasticity that totally impacts the Beautiful Game, allowing, on the one hand, referees to better evaluate each restraint and, on the other, players to continue individual actions despite tactical fouls or frustrating contacts. Thanks to Kappa Labs, jerseys are no longer an ornament; now they can also determine the outcome of a match.

With the Kombat beginning to populate the fields of Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and international competitions, showing unprecedented fit and incisiveness on the athletic gesture, a new course is opened for the study and development of technical-sports materials. It opens wide, for all intents and purposes, the curtain on contemporary soccer, and on contemporary jerseys: functional symbols, capable of rhyming beauty, tradition and scientific advancement.

Nazionale italiana femminile
Roberto Baggio, l'Italia e Kappa
Kombat jersey
AS Roma 2002-03
Immagini d'archivio della Nazionale vestita Kappa
La tecnologia Kombat in azione
Momenti iconici del rapporto tra Kappa e il calcio

KAPPA FOOTBALL, AS CONTEMPORARY AS IT IS ICONIC

After the turning point of the Kombat, Kappa is branching out even further its influence on the vast football theater, maintaining, nurturing and expanding ties with clubs and national teams around the world, and going along with the osmotic process of bringing fashion catwalks and green lawns closer together.

Some examples of this latest, virtuous transition are the lasting collaboration with Leo Colacicco and LC23, brands with which the Omini have already developed several jerseys dedicated to Bari and the uniqueness of this sacred Apulian football city. It seems almost obvious, then, to mention Venezia and its work of twisting the fashion-inspired football landscape, as well as the fashion dynamics inspired by the football element. Leaving the national borders and moving to France, on the other hand, the link with the social soul of Paris, Red Star, certainly continues to fascinate, as does the virtuous intertwining with the emerging Dijon brand Drôle de Monsieur, entirely devoted to AS Monaco.

What is certain is that Kappa jerseys continue to narrate a glorious past and pander to a constantly changing present. A change that, probably, would not have been and would be so without the football vision of this Turin-based reality. A change that has lasted since as far back as 1978, and we can touch on it in the dazzling archive of the BasicGallery. In a jersey converge infinite symbols and meanings, we said. The symbol and meaning of Kappa, however, will always remain at the center of the football score. For its relevance. For its appeal. For its progress. The same progress that we will describe within the next focus, entirely devoted to the unlikely and legendary mingling of intent with Team USA in Los Angeles ’84 and Seoul ’88.

Aston Villa Football Club 2020-21
Torino Football Club 2014-15
SSC Napoli with Marcelo Burlon 2020-21 & Borussia Dortmund
SSC Bari with LC23 2021-22
Genoa Cricket and Football Club
Genoa Cricket and Football Club
Venezia Football Club

The eternal myth of the Green Jacket

Scottie Scheffler won the Augusta Masters for the second time, wearing one of sport's most precious and symbolic awards

Amidst the gentle embrace of blooming azaleas, majestic pines and fragile magnolias, the first whispers of April once again unveiled a magical chapter for golf enthusiasts around the world. During four elegantly stressful days and 72 holes of rare significance, the hallowed grounds of the Augusta Masters Tournament once again celebrated the crème de la crème of international golf, allowing it to dance with its own epic fate.

Scottie Scheffler, 2024
Jon Rahm, 2023
Tiger Woods, 2019

Here, in Georgia, amid sanctified fairways and pristine greens, legends continue to be born and giants continue to crumble. Here, in the most sublime major, every greatest feat and slightest mistake is crystallized forever in the sporting annals. Time has taught that within the consecrated borders of Augusta National Golf Club, competitors compete not just for victory, but also for the universally coveted connection with the ‘Green Jacket’: a transversal symbol of golfing immortality, and beyond.

There are those who compare this place to Heaven, those who have had to drink rum to cope with its pressures, those who have glimpsed spirits and ghosts among its centuries-old trees… Because the ‘Green Jacket’ and the Augusta logo delicately engraved on its brass buttons are a testament to tradition, excellence and heritage that anyone has dreamed, if only for a second, of touching and wearing. The value of this garment, made of pure tropical wool, transcends mere monetary and aesthetic value, embodying the essence of prestige, and myth.

Sergio Garcia, 2017
Dustin Johnson, 2020

This year an imperial Scottie Scheffler succeeded, for the second time in his career, in winning the major founded in 1934 and embracing all its intangible meanings. Scheffler put a staggering prize money (over $3 million) in his pocket, but he also inherited again the splendor of an unparalleled object and the weight of its history, suspended in time. “You don’t come to Augusta to find your game. You come here because you’ve got one,” said pioneer Gene Sarazen, and Scheffler proved the greatness of his own Game, mastering the cerebral and emotional complexities of what, for many, if not all, is the most arduous tournament in the world.

Then, the American number 1 on the PGA Tour wore his second ‘Green Jacket’ with emotion and confirmed his status as an honorary member of the club. An elitist handover occurred, as tradition dicatates, through last year’s winner, Jon Rahm, during one of the most famous and fascinating award ceremonies. This photo gallery is a tribute to the ‘Green Jacket’ and its priceless prestige.

Credits

IMAGO / ABACAPRESS / ZUMA Wire / Xinhua

Filippo Libenzi


The majestic running parade of the Milan Marathon

Thanks to ASICS, we had the opportunity to depict a special edition of the Milan Marathon and the runners who took part to it

Piazza del Duomo glistens in golden majesty. In the modern elegance of this metropolis, heightened by an air of early spring, wave after wave of runners alternate their starts. The athletic spectacle mesmerizes the throngs of spectators with its cyclical motion, seamless and infinite. Enthusiasts, onlookers and passers-by bear witness to a flood of legs and arms, a colorful celebration of the most democratic of sports disciplines, represented in all its heterogeneity by the record-breaking Milan Marathon. Statistical data, like the 8,545 individual registrations and more than 4,000 relay foursomes, can’t begin to define the immense scope of this unprecedented event. It truly marks the evolution of the relationship between running and the Lombardy capital. And this evolution is on the rise, exalted by the considerable presence of international runners – professional and otherwise – as well as the functional aesthetics guaranteed by ASICS.

Our image gallery, produced in partnership with the ‘Anima Sana In Corpore Sano’ brand and Milano Marathon’s technical sponsor, portrays the tangible victories of Kenyan Titus Kipkosgei, and Ethiopian Tigist Memuye, stopping the clock at 2h07’12” and 2h26’32” respectively. In addition, it also highlights the intangible wonders of an athletic and communal parade punctuated by wide avenues and details of Sforzesco Castle, a colorful menagerie of people, and unique views like the finish line set a few steps from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It is a journey into the essence of modern-day Milan, its running present and future, which we depict through our lens.


Kappa's never-ending story

From Calzificio Torinese to Kappa, BasicNet's historical archive gives us a sneak peek into its myths and secrets

Crossing the threshold of Turin’s Basic Village is like stepping into a portal through space and time. Before becoming the pulsating epicenter of the international BasicNet network, this impressive structure was the home of the legendary Maglificio Calzificio Torinese. Today, fashion culture, pop icons and athletic imagery intersect in furious motion. In the wide geometric spaces of this urban block dedicated to craftsmanship, a vast array of projections, memorabilia, textiles and anecdotes tell the story of a galaxy of brands as mythical as they are interwoven: a dream factory that’s set the world on fire, defining the ebb and flow of modern sports and their aesthetics.

The archive of this ongoing narrative began in wartime Italy in 1916 and has since branched out into countless languages; it is a vault that opens wide before our eyes, and its brand-manifesto, Kappa, guides us deep into its depths. Visions and impressions float through one-of-a-kind kits and famous posters, Apple tech and Olympic events. They blend medals and success, names and surnames inextricably linked to each precious display case, and each drawing board, starting with Maurizio Vitale and Marco Boglione.

The BasicGallery inside the BasicVillage

WARS AND INSIGHT, A HOSIERY FACTORY FOR ITALY

Basic Village is a microcosm. And we’ve got to head back a century to experience its big bang. In 1916, Abramo Vitale decided to ride the wave of industrialization, starting his own yarn trading business inside a farmhouse under the name Calzificio Torinese. As inscribed in the company’s very name, hosiery became Vitale’s main staple, rapidly spreading throughout the country. The first meaningful step in the company’s evolution came at the outbreak of World War II.

The factory, which had since come under the management of Davide Vitale, Abramo’s grandson, became a strategic supplier to the Italian Army. This was when it began producing shirts branded with the Eagle symbol. Its dizzying rise, however, was short-lived; a surgical American bombing razed the structure to the ground in 1943. Ruins are all that remains of the farmhouse, of the machinery only skeletons. Despite the complex sociopolitical and commercial scenario, the national relevance of the Calzificio led to its eventual resurrection in 1951 amid postwar reconstruction.

Davide Vitale broke ground on his company’s new headquarters and, with it, a new path embellished by their merger with Manifattura Tessuti Maglierie, transforming today’s Basic Village into Maglificio Calzificio Torinese. The expansion to knitwear and the diversification of its production line transported the winged symbol from wartime needs toward the greater good, the public at large.

BasicVillage views

K – A LETTER FOR HISTORY

During the 1950s, the growing production of socks and knitwear came to a historical head. In 1956, customers started sending back stocks of products with noticeable manufacturing errors.  Concerned about the potential damage to the brand, the Vitale family set out for a remedy. Thus was born a child of necessity, a child of genius: the letter that would change the company’s history forever.

K-Kontroll. Senior management sensed that new corporate credibility must come through a fictitious acronym, a word that didn’t exist but conveyed a precise meaning. K for control, K for quality, consistency, and detail. This K communicated an adherence to standards that transcended national borders, recalling the K of the German system, ever a trademark of manufacturing rigor and the strive for perfection. The desire to safeguard corporate status married to sheer marketing. The outcome was something beautiful.

In 1958, the year the Kappa trademark was officially registered, the company was already the national leader in socks and undergarments. The Bel Paese was more than happy to don the quality and care guaranteed by a monogram. Italian wardrobes across the land were filled with a brand letter that was as distant from Dante’s as reassuring to every consumer’s conscience.

Early evidence of the name K-Kontroll and the iconic Kappa logo
Kappa history in the hallways of BasicVillage

A LEGENDARY LOGO

Despite enjoying an apparent monopoly of the domestic market in undergarments, Maurizio Vitale, the young heir to the company in the late 1960s, decided to combine his entrepreneurial aplomb with a deeper vision of a constantly changing world. Thus, he opened Kappa to the lifestyle market. The epiphany took place in front of his TV as he watched an interview with John Lennon. Vitale was struck by a single garment the musical legend was wearing, a military jacket from a casualty of Vietnam.

After that, Kappa shirts were dyed green and upgraded with emblems and symbols, heralding the brand’s officially entry into the world of casual wear. But one last step was missing before the final transformation: the design of a logo with cross-cultural impact. Amongst the negatives of a Beatrix swimwear photo shoot, Vitale caught a glimpse of the silhouettes of a young man and woman taken against the light. They are nude and sitting back-to-back, legs slightly bent and arms supporting their faces. Their mirrored profiles captivated and inspired the 20-year-old entrepreneur.

At the dawn of the 1970s, Kappa associated its aesthetics with that logo and added something to its name: Robe di. ‘Robe’ in Turin is another word for ‘things,’ ‘objects.’ This twofold, epochal transition catapulted Kappa and its products into the collective imagination of everyday Italian life. The process was aided by the genesis of what would become essential corporate assets: communicative and advertising genius, and relationships with the most important figures in the sports industry.

The Beatrix shooting that inspired the Kappa logo
Old Kappa sponsorships and campaigns

OF INNOVATION AND AESTHETICS, SPORTS AND KAPPA

The journey ranges from Juventus to the U.S. Olympic National Team through a technological imprinting inspired by Apple and an aesthetic sensibility capable of pinpointing taste, trend and performance in modern sports. The BasicNet archive is a journey into the evolution of a highly complex reality today and an evocative dive into a whirlwind of sports personalities and turning points. It is style applied to functional progress: a virtuous dynamic that began in the distant 1980s and was carried onward by Marco Boglione into the present day.

That is why we have devoted two in-depth reports on the endless two-step between Kappa and the sports world. In the coming weeks, you’ll find these chapters here, where you can immerse yourself in sequence shots of narrative and athletic feats shaped by a single, powerful letter and an unforgettable logo.

The connection between BasicNet brands and some global celebrities, such as Michael Jackson's Sebago shoes and Spice Girl Mel C's Kappa pants
Some examples of past Kappa sports sponsorships

Remember me, the eternal and decaying beauty of the Stadio Sant'Elia

Enrico Follese's photos lead us through the archaeological ruins of Cagliari's historic stadium

September the 12th, 1970, Cagliari has the first, and only, Scudetto sewn on its jerseys. The team-symbol of the Sardinian island, led by the omnipotence of Gigi Riva, has just won a legendary title, shocking the entire nation, and is unveiling a new home: the Sant’Elia Stadium. It’s the beginning of a bittersweet dream.

Improbable fires, urban planning illogicalities and infrastructural mismanagement push Sant’Elia down to the abyss of decay season after season. Not even the Italia ’90 World Cup works mutate an inexorable process of self-destruction, amplified by constant institutional shortsightedness and carelessness. The Sant’Elia suffers along with the ‘Casteddu’ fans, turning first into an agonizing football cathedral, then into ruins.

Enrico Follesa’s lens guides us through archaeological visions of the contemporary Sant’Elia, where emotions and goals echo in mystical scenarios and evocative voids, showing us the uninhabited beauty of an aggregating hub incapable of withstanding human fallacy. Half a century after its genesis, Sant’Elia Stadium is silently awaiting a second life or its ultimate death.

‘Remember me’ is Enrico Follesa’s visual epitaph to a place that will soon be changed and forgotten. It’s a final salute to a sports memorial. But it could also be a a warning – the desire to bring back to life what has been incomprehensibly allowed to die. ‘Remember me’ it’s the prayer of every fan who has populated Sant’Elia’s stands with songs, tears and flags. Cagliari managed to avoid relegation in the 2023-24 season, and Serie A will continue to speak Sardinian. The places and people of this city will continue to breathe Serie A. Perhaps one day the Sant’Elia will return to do so as well, or it will continue to be only a distant, evanescent and mortal memory.