In October, #ellesseexplores brought to life the pioneering spirit of Leonardo Servadio and worked with creative influencers on the documentary film. If you missed it, take a look here. This month, ellesse explores the ski heritage of the brand alongside the launch of #thepenguin capsule collection.
To some fans of the brand, this penguin logo will be brand new. To the more mature members of the ellesse family, this collection sees the return of a very familiar face.
To mark the launch of this collection, we reached out to a good friend of ellesse, Jef Newsam, to hear about his long time passion for the brand.
Stats: Jef Newsam, 47, born in Sheffield
Profession: Self employed freelance garment design and production, automotive leather trim designer and producer
Tell us a bit about yourself and your relationship with ellesse
I’ve been wearing ellesse for 35 years. To me, it’s the most ingenious brand of all time, and old adverts of Guillermo Vilas dressed in ski wear reading a magazine with Princess Stephanie on the front (who he apparently eloped with) was genius!
It was never serious – just make good clothes and have fun and be happy, and that’s what it does for kids today! They need ellesse too!
Talk us through your first memories of ellesse
There are many across numerous sports…
Watching skiing on television – the 1976 Winter Olympics spawned a new era of televised sport and more importantly, Ski Sunday was launched in 1978 on BBC.
Ski Sunday also followed the success of Ingemar Stenmark, as he took two golds at the Lake Placid Olympics and the ellesse penguin was shown weekly featured on skiers and sponsor bibs. The television coverage made the foreign mountains and snow an enticing alternative to the green grass of our own Wimbledon.
Tennis was also established as an annual broadcasting highlight and clothing brands were pushed into our horizons. In the summer of 1979, I watched various players in ellesse tennis kit vie for glory.
Throughout the motor rallying in 1980, quilted jackets appeared as rally jackets to keep drivers warm out of the cars. I remember Marku Allen driving for the Fiat Alitalia team and wore an ellesse team jacket.
Even if we couldn’t get to these events in person, we at least needed to look like we were going!
When did you first start collecting ellesse clothing and why?
My first ellesse purchase was in Spain on a family holiday in the summer of 1980. It was a full Rimini tracksuit from Lloret de Mar. The marketing of ellesse had perhaps inadvertently entered the minds of young British culture desperate to escape the monotony of homeland status fashions. The casual dress movement was far more influential than it has been credited, perhaps because of negatives from its ties with terrace culture, but nonetheless young people suddenly had brand awareness, brand affinity and brand ideology where no one saw it coming, not even Leonardo.
What do you love most about ellesse?
Firstly, to set ellesse aside as a brand and sing its praises, I would have to accolade firstly its very cute and strong icons – the penguin logo came first and was visible into the 80s from its 60s conception, but the semi palla quickly eclipsed it and has been the acknowledged branding ever since. Both the semi palla and penguin have utter simplicity and yet speak volumes of individual identity.
Secondly, the garments themselves have a way all of their own, not pretentious in most, nor ostentatious, sometimes simple, but always function with just enough style that never inhibits wear-ability. ellesse original garments are still wearable today; garments surviving 1970s to the 2010s is some value! ellesse continues to try and feed the need of another generation of youngsters with similar ethos and expression.
What is the most distinguishable design feature of ellesse clothing?
What sets it apart are the logos – the badges have to be right, ellesse after all is about badges and branding. Then the function, just ease of wear.
We’d like to thank Jef for taking the time to share his memories of ellesse with #ellesseexplores. If you have an ellesse collection similar to Jef, or have photos of your memories of ellesse through the decades, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com or message us on Facebook or Instagram.
Purchase The Penguin collection here.