That’s how Italian executive Alessandro Boglione described the footwear dubbed “people’s shoes of Italy,” Superga, as he unveiled the brand’s season collection with Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI), its local partner.
“The market is tough, and there are so many brands, but none have the same kind of history as Superga does,” he added, pronouncing “Superga” with the stress on the second syllable.
The brand was named after the Basilica di Superga near the factory where it was founded in Turin, Italy, according to Boglione, 26, who is vice president for sourcing of the BasicNet Group, the company his father started and which now owns the Superga brand.
In Europe, children wear Superga sneakers growing up, including himself, Boglione said. The Italian Everyman and -woman own a pair of the rubber-sole cotton sneakers popularly known as “2750.” (It originally stood for its stock code number but the name stuck, according to Evelyn Sia, the SSI merchandise group manager for Superga in the Philippines.)
But the brand didn’t start out as a sneakers company. It was a manufacturer of rubber for the auto industry when it was founded in 1911. Then it started making rubber boots for Italian workers. In 1925, it began producing tennis shoes, the precursor of the 2750. It became the people’s shoes, an affordable and comfortable everyday footwear.
In the 1980s, Superga was selling 12 million pairs a year, Boglione said. Then it hit bad times. By the time BasicNet acquired licensing rights in 2004, it was hardly selling. Under the company, which now owns it, Superga in the last few years had staged a comeback, now with a global distribution that includes 90 countries, including the Philippines.
“Now we’re selling five million pairs,” Boglione said. “We still have so much room to grow. We’re getting back to the old age. We’re applying a lot of new things. And we’re proud to be environmental-friendly, we’re 100-percent natural and sustainable.”
Superga is a unisex brand, though the women’s segment is generally bigger, including in the Philippines, that BasicNet is taking measures to increase its men’s business.
From sneakers, the brand has also introduced moccasins and driving shoes, as well as slip-on styles, trendy platform soles, as well as a slightly slimmer sole called 2950. It no longer makes just cotton uppers, but also leather, lace and other seasonal materials. And it’s no longer just plain canvas sneakers, but a whole lot of prints and patterns.
In fact, like many brands, Superga has also had high-profile designer collaborations, including one with Versace, and, this season, with Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.
“To be a great brand, we have to have the flexibility to keep up with the market, while keeping our identity,” Boglione said.
This summer, Superga has floral patterns, laces and other colorful patterns.
Superga is available at Greenbelt 5; Rustan’s in Makati, Shangri-La and Alabang; Central Square BHS, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Magnolia, Blue Bay Walk, Fairview Terraces and Estancia.