Italian fashion house founded by Luciano Benetton and his sister, Guiliana.
Born in 1935, Luciano Benetton lost his father at the age of ten. To help support his family, he started selling newspapers on the street. Needless to say, life was pretty rough for the Benetton family.
Around 1960, Luciano and Guiliana, who by this time became very adept at knitting, decided to set up a shop selling wool pullovers. Guiliana would be responsible for the design and fabrication of the pullovers, whereas Luciano would be responsible for the marketing.
During a trip to England, Luciano learned of a new technique in knitting where the fabrication was done with an off-white yarn. The wool would only be dyed at the last minute and this would allow the designs and colours to always stay up to date, a tradition carried forward to this day.
By 1963, the Benetton family had opened up several shops with distribution of their wares limited to a small network of exclusive distributors and sub-contractors.
In 1966, the French designer Lison Bonfils joined the Benetton team as an advisor. This relationship, which lasted about ten years, brought immediate success for the Benetton label and allowed Luciano to purchase and restore the Villa Minelli which became the company's headquarters. It was also during this year that Benetton opened its first factory.
After opening up a store in Paris in 1969, Benetton became a label to contend with as its success owed mostly to their targeted clientele (young and active).
Benetton began a tradition of sports sponsorships with their first in 1978, the Trevisse rugby team. In 1983, they began sponsorship of Tyrell's Formula 1 racing team and in 1985, purchased Toleman's F1 team and turned it into one of the most visible (if only moderately successful) teams in F1 history.
The time period between 1988 and 1989 saw the release of Benetton's first fragrance, Colors. By this time, Benetton had established several labels covering colourful sportswear and casual clothing for children and adults.
The commercialisation of Benetton was also in full swing as the shops were all redesigned by Italian architect, Tobia Scarpa, for a simple look where everything in the store could be seen at a single glance. In 1982, Benetton also contracted the Italian photographer, Oliviero Toscani, of the Eldorado publicity company to work exclusively with the label, thus beginning their famous ad campaigns which came out in full force in the late 80s and early 90s. The advertising campaign gained notoriety as the label increasingly emphasized models from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, the idea being that if the clothing is about colours, the people that wear them should also be just as diverse. The racial harmony theme became its moniker - "United Colors of Benetton". The campaign also became famous through the use of some shocking images, such as a man dying of AIDS, a bloodied torn-up shirt, and a doctored picture of the Pope with black skin.
The Sisley label was launched in 1993 as a more conservative approach to clothing but still making use of a variety of subdued colours.
Today, the Benetton Group is present in 120 countries around the world. While its core is in the clothing sector, it also has its hands in the sportswear and equipment sector through brands such as Playlife, Nordica, Prince, Rollerblade, and Killer Loop. As well, the Benetton Group has holdings in the food industries as well as multimedia and high-tech. Most, if not all, of these holdings are done under Edizione Holding, the Benetton family's holding company.
- Marks and Characters - http://www.ucad.fr/pubgb/virt/mp/
- Benetton website - http://www.benetton.com/