Missoni

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The 1948 Olympic Games in London, a 400-meter hurdle race and two knitting machines - these are the ingredients for the genesis of the colorful Missoni brand. But let's take it... Read more
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Interesting Facts

The 1948 Olympic Games in London, a 400-meter hurdle race and two knitting machines - these are the ingredients for the genesis of the colorful Missoni brand. But let's take it one step at a time:

Already during his athletic career as a hurdler, Ottavio 'Tai' Missoni, born in 1921, tinkered with sportswear tailored to the needs of athletes. Promptly, this was worn by the Italian team during the 1948 Olympic Games. Although Ottavio only finished sixth in his discipline, the 400-meter hurdles, at the same Games, it was there in London that he met his future wife Rosita.

Tai and Rosita married in 1953 and in the same year they founded the Missoni brand. With those two knitting machines mentioned at the beginning, which Rosita had received from her grandparents who worked in the textile industry, the two now specialized in knitwear. But their garments did not have the usual dusty and stuffy image, but the models convinced with a design that made them look rather cool, timeless and like works of art.

Their scam was successful: within a few years, the Missoni brand became a driving force of the post-war Italian fashion renaissance. Legendary fashion editors like Anna Piaggi and Diana Vreeland took notice of the brand and promoted awareness of the psychedelically colorful zig-zag stripes. When Missoni was invited to show her collection at the 'Pitti Palace' in Florence in 1967, Rosita was shocked to notice that the models were wearing bras that didn't match the color of the garments and gave the order to just leave the bras off. Too bad the spotlights made the material translucent.... Missoni was not invited to the fashion show again, but the collection became a sensation. Bad luck for Florence: Tai and Rosita found it more convenient to show their collections at their place in Milan anyway, and soon other Italian designers followed Missoni's example to come to Milan. Nowadays Milan is synonymous with Italian fashion, who still thinks of Florence.

With such achievements, it was natural for Tai and Rosita to expand the brand further: In the mid-70s the first Missoni boutique was inaugurated, at the end of the 70s there was the first men's collection, in the early 80s the first perfume was launched and at the same time the first collection of home accessories was launched. In the meantime, there are additional shoes, handbags, swimwear and children's clothing to buy from Missoni. Even hotels are not safe from the colorful Missoni patterns: in 2007 the first Missoni hotel opened in Edinburgh, followed by others.

Of course, one might think that with such growth, the Missoni Group would have long been run by outside managers, but Tai and Rosita passed on their creativity, love of craftsmanship, and business acumen to their three children, Vittorio, Luca, and Angela. That's why, in 1997, the two passed the company on to the next generation, who continued unabated to see the Missoni brand thrive.

Even the fatal accident of the eldest son Vittorio and the death of the family patriarch Tai in 2013 have not done anything to the brand. Even today, the joint-stock company Missoni is 100% family-owned and there is now a third, but certainly not the last generation responsible for the world-famous, colorful zigzag stripes.
Research and text by BirdeeBirdee