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