We talked to a US rep for Ellesse via e-mail and he told us what’s up with the company. Their tennis performance line is available in 250 retail outlets (and sites like Tennis Warehouse), but how come there’s no sign of a casual line? And why is their website barren save for a short video?
Ellesse rode the sports retro wave for five years, mining their archives of 70s and 80s fashion to sell items to Urban Outfitters, Saks, and Bloomingdales, among others. As demand for the styles waned, so did sales. This led Ellesse to discontinue the line 18 months ago. (Puma and adidas fell prey to the same phenomenon.)
In the meantime, you can check out the Ellesse (Japan) women’s holiday ’07 collection* after the cut…
*More on Ellesse: Ellesse is available in 41 countries, some wholly-owned by Pentland Group, a London-based company, while others use distributors and licensees Japan is the only country for which Pentland doesn’t have rights. “They do their own thing, but we cooperate with each other.”
They’re even staking claim in the Far East with 70 retail stores in South Korea, two recently opened in Shanghai (and eight more planned for the Spring). Their goal is to have 50 stores opened there within the year.
“In Italy our partner is Cisalfa, the [country's] largest upscale sporting goods company,” with Ellesse outselling Nike in the tennis category. In London, the stylish tennis retailer Wigmore (upscale enough to have a satellite branch inside Harrods) has had Ellesse as their top tennis supplier for three years running.
Ellesse at play: While we were underwhelmed by TW’s Ellesse offerings, the rep pointed out that TW’s stock is but a fraction of what the company has in their showroom. Based on their current Japanese line (modeled here by player Yurika Sema), we can see that they did have some fashion-forward pieces, including a bubble dress top (right) that seemed to be a staple in every company’s collection this year.
(photos via Goldwin)