Leaflet created for the exhibition at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni to celebrate the Superga's centenary
1911 – 2011 Superga: what a history!
Superga’s history accompanies much of unified Italy. In fact, in 2011, while Italy was celebrating the 150th anniversary of its unification, the Turin brand name celebrates its 100th birthday. Superga’s history is tightly intertwined with our country’s development, not only for the Made in Italy issue, but also because throughout the entire 1900s the Turin company actively contributed to the most important transformations of our society. With its completely waterproof rubber boots, it changed rural Italy’s life between the two world wars, by eliminating the centuries-old problem of illnesses and infections typical of environments such as the rice paddies and marshes. Thanks to the proprietary technologies of vulcanized rubber, it instead contributed to the industrialization of our country. Ultimately, in more recent times, by using the Internet and new technologies, it took on the challenge of globalization by remaining one of the most popular and appreciated Italian brands in the world. Through advertising campaigns, historical products, interviews and re-enactments, this exhibit will explore all the events, past and present, of one of the most important Italian companies, allowing us to discover some moments and peculiarities of our identity as Italians.
To make a shoe you need…
Vulcanized rubber technology was invented in the late 1800s by Charles Goodyear. The American inventor discovered that latex obtained from several equatorial plants (Hevea brasiliensis), if enriched with small amounts of sulfur and then thermally treated in the oven, turns into a substance called vulcanized rubber, which proves to be perfectly resistant to mechanical stress and to the elements. After this discovery, many inventors and entrepreneurs throughout the industrialized world began to mass-produce this invention. Among them, Mr. Walter Martiny of Turin, who, in 1911, began manufacturing products in vulcanized rubber on the banks of the Dora River. Initially his company went by the name of “Walter Martiny Industria Gomme” (Walter Martiny Rubber Industry) then it became “Superga” due to its proximity to the famous basilica. Today Superga still produces its shoes utilizing this old but effective technology.
The factory and production
Here are the main phases of the artisanal production of Superga’s most important product: the model 2750 shoe. In the factory the different components that make up the shoe (cotton outsole, rubber sole, diamond rubber bumper, labels, laces, etc.) converge and, phase after phase, the shoes are assembled around a metal mold in order to then be vulcanized, packaged and sent around the world. Production of the 2750, and of many other Superga products, has taken place for over fifty years at via Verolengo in Turin. Today the Turin firm has become a multinational company, part of the BasicNet group. Production is carried out in more than fifteen countries throughout Europe, Asia and South America. All the strategic planning for coordination of the global market, in addition to product development, design and industrialization, is based in Turin.
Vulcanization or vulcanisation is a chemical process for converting rubber or related polymers into more durable materials via the addition of sulfur or other equivalent “curatives.” These additives modify the polymer by forming crosslinks (bridges) between individual polymer chains. Vulcanized material is less sticky and has superior mechanical properties. A vast array of products are made with vulcanized rubber including tires, shoe soles, hoses, and hockey pucks. The process is named after Vulcan, Roman god of fire. Hard vulcanized rubber is sometimes sold under the brand names ebonite or vulcanite, and is used to make hard articles such as bowling balls and saxophone mouth pieces. Fonte: en.wikipedia.org
The value of a brand
Today it is clear to everyone; a company’s success is built by paying a lot of attention to the quality of the product, but also by taking care of such intangible aspects as: the company’s name (naming), brand name recognition (branding), packaging (packaging) or promotion of the product (advertising). Today, normal marketing strategies of many modern and successful companies contemplate all of these activities. In this area, Superga has always demonstrated exemplary sensitivity, albeit non-invasive, in line with the style of its products. For example, ever since the early years of production, the Turin company has dedicated much attention to its logo and promotional campaigns conveyed also via postcards, calendars, etc., in addition to daily newspapers. Superga has also distinguished itself in packaging, by wrapping its products in always-original packing. Today, the collaborations with other famous brands (co-branding).
Sports and the swallow
In the 1970s, after a large crisis due to work automation in the farmlands and the consequent profit loss in the boot sector, Superga recognizes that sport is the best way to conquer new market quotas. Under these auspices, production of footwear branded Superga Sport begins, characterized by the unmistakable swallowtail trademark. In those years, Superga links its name to such beloved athletes as Adriano Panatta and Dino Zoff who, together with the tennis player Lea Pericoli and others, become celebrity spokespeople for a widely popular publicity campaign. In addition to publicity, Superga develops new sports products, from basketball shoes to football shoes, as well as bicycle shoes and G3 snow boots, developed in collaboration with the Treviso-based company Munari. Superga has even left its mark on the sea, creating a sailing shoe for Mascalzone Latino in 2007. But it is a photo from 1977 that remains in the company’s history. The one in which you see a mischievous Ilona Staller (stage name Cicciolina) holding a pair of Superga Montreal (today Superga Roma).
Classics & Co.
There are several Superga products that can be defined as classics, such as the cotton and vulcanized rubber shoe, the extremely popular model 2750, or the leather and hide moccasin, or, still, the children’s sandal that characterized and characterizes the growth of new generations. Today, in the Turin company’s marketing activities, collaborations with other famous brands (co-branding) in which classic Superga products are reinterpreted with the fantasy of designers from other houses, stand out. Among the most famous exhibited here we note those started with Disney, Cavalli, MAX&CO., DC Comics, Fiorucci and Swarovski.
In the 1950s, Superga is acquired by Pirelli and, between 1952 and 1975, the number of shoes produced multiply substantially. Then a crisis occurs and, in 1993, the Turin brand name separates from Pirelli and merges with the So.PA.F. Group, without improving its situation. Ultimately, in 2004, it is acquired by Marco Boglione’s BasicNet Group. Superga thus becomes part of a larger group of popular clothing brand names such as Kappa®, Robe di Kappa®, K-Way®,AnziBesson® and Jesus® Jeans. And, above all, with BasicNet the company Martiny founded can now take advantage of digital strategies and Web integration that have characterized the Marco Boglione group since 1995. Thanks to this new incentive, Superga soon makes a comeback as the brand name of reference for informal footwear, fully taking on the role of “Scarpa degli italiani, People’s shoes of Italy”. Today, one hundred years since its creation, Superga offers more than 400 models of shoes, is found in more than 25 countries around the world, and produces more than 3.5 million pairs of shoes every year.