ellesse is a sportswear company founded in Italy in 1959, producing apparel, footwear and accessories. It has been owned by British Pentland Group since 1987.
The founder of the brand, Leonardo Servadio was an avid skiing fan, but he couldn't find the right skiwear so he decided to make his own. Originally an Italian taylor, Leonardo's mission was to break the boundaries between fashion and sport.
The brand began by manufacturing the skiwear that Leonardo had envisioned. Pioneering the innovative 'Jet Pant', Ellesse created a new ski trouser concept where the leg fit above the ski boot. Following this they created the quilted jacket, which became the new staple for the skiing crowd. Ellesse had such a reputation for quality winter sports gear that it was easy to move into tennis apparel and gain a following.
The famous 'half-ball' Ellesse logo combines a cross section of a tennis ball with the tips of a pair of skis, symbolising the brand's heritage in both of these sports. Ellesse began placing their logo on the outside of clothes, and are historically reported to have been one of the first brands to do this. It was immediately copied by other brands around the world.
Over the years Ellesse have worked with countless events and athletes, further cementing their legacy in the sportswear world. They sponsored the New York Marathon in the 1980s, several tennis players like Boris Becker, Chris Evert and Guillermo Vilas. In 1998 Jean-Luc Cretier won a Gold medal whilst skiing in Ellesse gear; the image graced the cover of Time Magazine and was a historical moment for the brand.
ellesse is now a global sportswear brand with distribution in more than 100 countries around the world and sponsors British number 1 Johanna Konta.