Founded in 1959 by charismatic Italian tailor Leonardo Servadio, who named the company after his initials, ellesse started life as a ski brand but branched out into tennis in the 1970s.
Blurring the boundaries between tennis and fashion, ellesse famously sponsored the Mutua Madrid Open and employed professional models as ball boys and ball girls, collaborating with Parisian fashion house Surface to Air to design the outfits.
Where once Evert and Becker played in ellesse gear, now Monica Puig and Feliciano Lopez wear the iconic semi-palla logo, which combines the tips of a pair of skis with a cross section of a tennis ball in a nod to the brand’s heritage.
Puig was memorably wearing ellesse as she won an historic Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro last summer. Puig’s victory over Angelique Kerber saw her become the first woman to win a medal for Puerto Rico, and she did it wearing a specially designed dress in the red, white and blue of her homeland.
“Once I found out that I was going to be part of the Olympic team, I immediately called ellesse and said, ‘we have to do something special for the Olympics,’ and the result was this famous dress,” said Puig. “When I put on the uniform of Puerto Rico and I go out to a competition where I’m representing my island, I need to rise to the occasion and play my best tennis.”
While Puig’s one-off Olympic dress is not for sale, the brand’s new Focus range is now available to buy online. It’s a collection of simple but stylish designs brought to life by bold colours – classic items that you would instantly attribute to ellesse, even without seeing that famous logo.