The Story Behind Diadora – A Brief History

Diadora has been a staple shoe of the casuals scene since the late 70s – although the brand’s beginnings were far from that. The label started out handcrafting hiking & work boots for the working class of Northern Italy, before later emerging onto the sportswear scene by utilising the worlds most idolised athletes as the face for the brand.

Diadora was founded in 1948 in Caerano di San Marco, renowned today globally as a leading area for European manufacturing. In the beginning it was simply a workshop, providing handmade boots for local workers & the many hikers in the region, which despite being fairly flat, was known for it’s walking & hiking trails.

In the early 60’s Diadora began their transition into the sportswear industry & producing footwear appropriate for sports such as squash & tennis. This is the direction the brand wanted to take for a while however they were halted by a few significant patents in the United States they needed to acquire first, which they had finally got hold of.

The plan for Diadora was to set themselves apart by providing superior quality & ‘cutting edge-solutions’ whilst pricing themselves competitively against the industry giants of the time who had already established themselves. The 70s saw professional sports blow up in popularity with several iconic moments putting a spotlight on their respected sports, like the 1973 Bobby Riggs vs Billy Jean tennis match titled the ‘battle of the sexes’ which highlighted gender equality within the sport.

This wave created a new opportunity within sports marketing that involved using appealing & loved athletes as the face for a brand. Diadora decided to utilise this tool to accelerate their presence in the sportswear industry by endorsing stars such as Bjorn Borg in tennis, Guiseppe Gentile in athletics & Roberto Bettega in football. This enabled Diadora to get a foot through the door of the top 3 most popular sports of the time.

In 1975 Diadora partnered up with Martin Mulligan, a superstar Australian tennis player of the time. Tennis was now a key sport for the brand & their image, with Diadora bringing out the very first tennis shoes with leather uppers to the market. A year later in 1976 Diadora signed a contract with Bjorn Borg, the Swedish tennis professional considered to this day one of the greatest of all time. With a professional record of 600-127, his win percentage of 83% is the second highest of any professional tennis player to date, behind Novak Djokovic with 85.9% at the time of writing.

The partnership with Bjorn brought popularity to some of the brands most iconic styles that are still part of their collections today – such as the B Elites. Diadora decided to continue branching out into other markets & developing footwear for untouched sports such as athletics & running. Also a year later in 1978 the brands partnership with Roberto Bottega paid of, with him rocking a pair of Diadora football boots in the world cup leading to their football footwear range growing in popularity.

In the 1980s the brand decided to reinforce their portfolio & grow their presence in more ‘historic’ sports. They entered into basketball by endorsing the Milano basketball team & cycling through sponsoring Francesco Moser. Diadora also wanted to get their name across in Boxing by partnering with Francesco Damiani & the growing presence in racing through Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost & Niki Lauda.

The 1980s also saw a spike of popularity for their football boots, with an experimental design that had a coloured fregio inserted into the block coloured uppers. The design was a favourite worldwide & Diadora sponsored national teams & clubs who then showed the silhouette off to their respected fans.

The Iconic Diadora B.Elite

In 1981 Diadora crafted the iconic B.Elites in celebration of Bjron Borgs five wins at Wimbledon. The silhouette had white leather uppers with a golden fregio logo – a design proved popular on their football boots. The white & gold contrast design was admired internationally and has earnt itself as a mainstay in all Diadora collections to date, being the most popular Diadora model every released.

1983 marked a significant year for Diadora in Formula 1, after Niki Luada’s return to racing after his horrific crash, Diadora developed the very first fireproof footwear approved by the international federation. That season the footwear was seen on several iconic racing drivers including Niki Lauda himself, John Watson & Ayrton Senna.

The 90s followed suit for Diadora, thanks to collaborations with several sports stars & the partnerships put in place, the brand was at the forefront of sports internationally. The 90s also saw the creation of the Diadora Research Centre which compiled of footwear technicians, bioengineers & doctors specialising in orthopaedics to improve on athletes feedback.

Fast forward to the next decade of the 200s & Diadora now was also endorsing sports superstars & teams through clothing. This included the sponsorship of icon Francesco Totti who captained the Italian nation team for the 2006 German World Cup. For the tournament Diadora designed the Italian a pair of modified football boots and carbon fibre shin pads.

In 2015 Diadora reopened their historic in-house production line. The process was a lengthy one, with the brand insisting on bringing life back to the original machinery that had been gathering dust for 15 years. This enabled meticulous precision by highly qualified staff & cobblers crafting the footwear. This reopening not only brought excitement towards the hand-crafted element of the brand but was also a step in a more sustainable way of production by revitalising old machinery.

The Diadora story is one to be admired & shows the power of choosing the face of your brand wisely. Shop the latest collections from Diadora, including some of those most iconic models, online & in-store at Stuarts London.

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