The History Of Diadora

Brand Nostalgia

Diadora is one of Europe’s oldest sportswear brands. The iconic firm is reminiscent of an era when Italy ruled the sportswear market with the likes of Kappa, Fila and Lotto seemingly everywhere. Diadora is a brand that brings many happy memories to those who grew up in the late 80s - early 2000s, playing Sunday League and watching Serie A.

Foundation & Incorporation

The story begins in 1948 in post-war Italy when Marcello Danieli decided to found his own footwear company after working in the industry as a young man. After months of trial and error, Danieli and his wife released their first line of footwear, which funnily enough was a mountain boot, to be used by hikers and later by the mountain police. As time went on, these boots became known as the best in class and by the end of the 1950s, they were selling all across Italy.

Despite the popularity of his product, Danieli knew that selling such a niche product (hiking was unpopular in the 1950s) in a single country wouldn't make him rich, so he began to differentiate. During the economic boom of the 1960s, Marcelo expanded his winter range, meeting the demand for the growing ski industry by producing ski boots for the slopes and the first ever apres-ski boots, to support the needs of the skier in downtime.

Leaving the Mountains

Their success in the Ski market lead them on to pursue other sports such as running and tennis in the 1970s when demand for sportswear was beginning to blow up. Their philosophy was to use classic Italian craftsmanship whilst working alongside professionals such as ‘Bjorn Borg’ to advance the development of their footwear. Borg was a perfect partner for Diadora, he wasn’t just good at tennis, he had true flair as well. His rare combination of unrivalled performance (he won Wimbledon 5 times in a row) and unique style meant people couldn't keep their eyes off him. The endorsement led to the release of the “Borg Elite”, a tennis shoe which went on to become one of the 80’s biggest selling trainers. Popular in America, Britain and Europe, the Borg Elite’s marked the dawn of a new era, it was the first time in history where kids who’d never hit a ball in their life were splashing out on a tennis shoe. The Elite’s evoked the cool class that European design could offer, the soft calf leather, perforated tongue and understated gum sole all worked in harmony, carefully guiding the eyes up to a proud ‘Made In Italy’ sign which couldn’t feel more right.

Similar to the ski story, the success of Borg’s shoe led the firm to broaden their horizons and pursue the football industry. Diadora worked with the best of the best in Serie A, Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti, George Weah and Giuseppe Signori all wore the iconic boots.

Diadora Today

Since their glory days in the 90s, Diadora has fallen behind industry giants Nike and Adidas. However, Diadora never intended to compete with these firms. "Our values are sport, our authenticity—with our 67 years of history—and our Italian craftsmanship," said CEO Enrico Polegato. They still manufacture many of their shoes in Italy, “working with the original machines—the machinery dating back to the '80s or the '90s." Their sacrifices for build quality and character mean they cannot compete on output or profit margins. Unsurprisingly, their iconic designs have been recognised by the streetwear community, with a set of European heavyweight collabs between themselves and ‘Patta’ of Amsterdam having dropped over the last 5 years. Diadora now stands as a great option for those who have grown uninterested in the sports mega brands and in pursuit of a brand with personality and authenticity. They host a wide spectrum of finely designed shoes and tracksuits that are perfect for taking advantage of fashion’s thriving love for retro sportswear.

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