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While many athletics apparel companies are founded by athletes, the Ellese brand was founded in 1959 by an Italian tailor named Leonardo Servadio who named the company after the pronunciation of his initials (L.S.). That's not to say, of course, that the Ellesse product line wasn't designed for high performance athletics, but Servadio wanted the apparel and footwear bearing his name-- or at least the phonetic representation of his initials-- to look as good as it performed. He achieved that goal with one of his very first products; an innovative stretch ski pant, functional and warm as well as attractive, and almost instantly popular in high society Alpine ski clubs. Soon, Ellesse winter wear was all over the Alps, becoming the brand of choice for the hippest snow bunnies and whatever the male equivalent of snow bunnies might be.
In 1974 Ellesse sponsored the Italian National Ski Team and introduced a quilted ski jacket. It was not only great for keeping warm on the slopes, but so stylish and original it was co-opted by fashionable non-skiers throughout the world, making Ellesse one of the most successful ski brands over the next two decades. Not content to dominate only winter sports apparel, Servadio launched a line of tennis apparel in 1975, developing the now famous half tennis ball logo. One year later, the Ellesse brand went international and began signing promotional contracts with tennis stars like Boris Becker, who won the Wimbledon Singles title in 1985, and skiers like Mark Giradelli of Luxembourg, a World Champion in 1988 and 1989. In 1982, Ellesse introduced lines of leisure wear and shoes, and Gianni Poli wore a pair of Ellesse shoes to win the 1985 and 1986 New York Marathons.
Today, Ellesse continues to meet Servadio's original goals of high fashion and high performance through advanced technology. Ellesse swimsuits made from Sunselect fabrics block harmful UV rays while allowing the skin under the suit to tan; the innovative Ellesse Pneu air cushioning system in tennis shoes supports the feet and ankles to help prevent injury, and the Magic Air Ski jacket can automatically raise its internal temperature. This last innovation is displayed in the Museum of Design and Technology in Milan, proof that a tailor's capable of so much more than letting your pants out.