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Italian Cult: the story of Fornarina

The jeans and the sneakers that left a mark on the Italian 90's

Italian Cult: the story of Fornarina The jeans and the sneakers that left a mark on the Italian 90's

It's amazing how some fashion items, whether they're a shoe, a pair of jeans or a hoodie, will always be connected with a specific period of our lives or with a particular moment we went through. For me, a girl born and raised in the 90s not far from Milan, but undeniably out-of-town, Fornarina recalls my first years of middle school, a time where fashion was beginning to become a true way of communicating. The vast majority of the girls of my school, like every other in the neighbourhood, had at least one pair of Fornarina sneakers or jeans. They would wear them at school, after the lessons at the park, while strolling around the city, and even during the first nights spent at the disco; but also mums and aunts had them. The Fornarina brand entered that Italian imaginary at the end of the '90s and beginnings of the '00s, that simple, rounded, sinuous logo with just a crown above it, you would see it everywhere, and we're about to see it again very soon. 

The brand was founded in 1947 in Civitanove Marche by Gianfranco Fornari, who since the beginning wanted to focus on the craftsmanship of Marche's footwear. The first Fornarina designed items are in fact shoes, that combine the research of new materials and the experimentation with an innovative design. The first successes for the Italian brand arrive in the '50s and '60s, thanks to products designed for a young audience, simple but colourful and impactful items. The first Fornarina best-selling shoe is the clog: the wooden clog (until then probably worn only by mothers and grannies), turns into a high-heeled shoe, younger and cooler, and becomes part of every 70's girl's closet. 

In 1986 Fornarina makes a very bold and risky decision for the time, that looking back now not only was a wise and smart choice, but it was even pioneering. The brand, in fact, decides to enter the Asian market, opening many stores in China and Hong Kong. In those years the Asian giant was coming off the dark Mao age and was trying to be more open towards the international market, with an open door policy: the aim of this kind of operation was to create a friendly environment for rapid development of the Country. Fornarina doesn't miss this train and today it still counts 91 stores in the Asian land. 

It then begins a successful decade for the Fornarina label, that manages to balance great style ideas with unparalleled business management. In 1990 was founded a new line, Nose, a unisex street style oriented collection of footwear and accessories that gains from the beginning a great success; while the next year it's the turn of Barleycorn, a more fancy collection, that draws inspiration from the 50's silhouettes. 

In 1993 there's a turning point in the history of Fornarina. The founder's son, Lino Fornari, takes the lead of the company, and creates a new communication department, underlining once again the dominant power of fashion communication. The brand's ad campaigns, in fact, would very often portray "real" women, in urban and city landscapes, an image the female audience could identify with. Lino's brother, Giuseppe Fornari, on the other hand, creates two new lines, Combo and Combobella, both men's and women's streetwear collections, whose stand-out piece is definitely denim. 

The most important moment in the history of Fornarina arrives in 1992, with a shoe bound to change forever the sneaker market and the Italian custom as well. Up! is the first sneaker designed specifically and exclusively for the women's market, and becomes immediately one of the best selling shoes in the history of the Italian economy. We can say it was a forerunner of the current chunky sneakers, with that high, reared, bulky sole, that became almost a wedge, designed in a number of different colours and materials. The real Fornarina fans would wear the shoe with the super skinny jeans of the brands. Besides the questionable elegance and taste of the shoes, its strength was its versatility, not only because it could be worn in every moment of the day, but because it conquered the whole female audience, from teenagers to grandmothers. 

After this great achievement, Fornarina decides to create its first clothing line as well, the Fornarina Apparel Collection. In the following years the brand continues to grow, with new flagship stores designed by Giorgio Borruso, collaborative projects with artists and musicians and prizes, like the Young Entrepreneur of the Year won by Lino Fornari in 2007. 

The first television commercial of the Italian brand stars the queen of 00's showbusiness, Lindsay Lohan. In the ad Glam, Pink, Heart…Fornarina the American actress sports Fornarina jeans and shoes on a background that changes constantly colour as if she found herself in the recesses of a videogame or a computer. In the campaign photos, on the other hand, the city of Los Angeles is the background for the simple but at the same time cool Fornarina outfits. 

The leadership of Fornarina is world-oriented thanks also to the acquisition by Bright Fame Holdings but the DNA of the brand remains deeply Italian. 

Throughout its long history, the great merit of Fornarina was its ability to capture and understand the zeitgeist and the needs of the audience like anyone else, creating highly appealing, bold and original items. A sneaker like the Up! was absolutely unprecedented for the Italian market, and this was its strength. 2019 sees the return of the aesthetic that in the '90s made the fortune of Fornarinathe Up'92 sneaker, denim miniskirts with logos, pink bodysuits and jackets, platform sandals, along with a new series of accessories, for a nostalgic but fun and colourful taste. These familiar silhouettes, intrinsically part of the Italian aesthetic and of the vision of every one of us, come back this year renovated and updated without giving up their purest essence. 2019's must-haves are designed by Fornarina. 

The new Fornarina collection is now available on the website of the brand.


Photography Vincenzo Schioppa 
Digital Assistant Jonathan Santoro
Stylist Ramona Tabita 
Assistant Stylist Giada Zappa 
MUA Elena Gaggero 
Hair Luca Nolasco 
Set Design Diana Marcocci, Micol Riva 
Models Carla MartinAgata Paulina GrzecznyHym LeighAti Suebsawai 
Producer Carmen De Cristofaro 
Producer Assistant Marta Stella Brienza 
Art Direction & Production nss factory