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What happened to Ennerre?

How the Italian sportswear brand went from dominating Italian football into complete oblivion

What happened to Ennerre? How the Italian sportswear brand went from dominating Italian football into complete oblivion

Not even 40 years have passed, but the 80s seem much more far than they really are.

It is not just a chronological question, but also a point of view: despite the fact that 90s are considered the best decade of Italian football, really 80s represents the best period for Italian football. Opened with the victory in the World Championship in Spain in 1982, at that time were playing in Italy Platini with Juventus and Maradona with Napoli, there was the birth of the great Milan that would win from 1988 four Champions League in 6 years, Falcao became the Eighth King of Rome with the Giallorossi jersey, Hellas Verona triumphed in Serie A and Inter made the same with the Germans Brehme and Matthaeus, heir of Rummenigge.

It was the last decade where National football was more important than the European one, where winning the Serie A was as prestigious as raising a European Cup. It was this last aspect that encouraged the growth of an Italian brand that, remaining in Italy, managed to dress the best footballers in the world.

A growth that has been extinguished with the advent of international football and the big brands that could more easily export all over the world. So it was that a logo worn among others by Napoli of Maradona, Milan of Baresi, Roma of the "Prince" Giannini, Giordano and Manfredonia's Lazio, Sampdoria of Vialli and Mancini and Fiorentina of Antognoni, Socrates, Baggio and Passarella soon disappeared into the shadows and today he lives mainly in nostalgic memories and collectors' desires.

 

THE BIRTH

The logo we are talking about is NR, the two green letters surrounded by white on a black background. These are the initials of Nicola Raccuglia, a football player with a role wing, who started from Palermo and played in several Italian cities such as Pescara, Arezzo, Vicenza, and Ascoli.

But his greatest achievements came after the retirement: he had guessed that it was not enough to wear a shirt of a different color to distinguish himself from the opponents, but he want to give her a personality that would soon bring the fans to love their teams' suits, collect them and fill them with memories.

The adventure started in 1972 in a convent. There, 800 meters above sea level, four sisters began to give shape to the ideas of Raccuglia: Pescara and Lazio were the first clubs to wear NR jerseys, and soon even the Italian Football Federation commissioned the uniforms of the referees.

The peculiarity of the sweaters were materials: produced in a wool, a mixture of cotton and wool, with numbers and coats hand sewn on the fabric, the typical collar with a slightly V-neck and bright colors that made shirts unique.

 

80s

In 70s and 80s competitors were adidas, Puma, Umbro, Lotto and Diadora: despite those giants the brand arrived to supply about 700 stores only in Italy, having over 200 employees and also exporting to the Netherlands with the Crujiff brothers.

A popularity in the public given by the successes obtained on the field and the unmistakable style of their shirts.

Over all, the two of the teams in the capital. In the best years of Giallorossi, holders of the Italian Cup and soon winner of Scudetto that would arrive in 1983, Bruno Conti, Roberto Pruzzo and Giuseppe Giannini wore for the 1982 season the yellow-red shirts marked NR with the historic Barilla sponsor in white.

But it was on 22nd of July in 1982, on the other side of the capital, that the brand presented an historical shirt.

In those years the game uniforms were going to meet two concepts that today are discounted but at the time they were not: sponsors and merchandising. The first, intended as a company brand, had recently appeared on the teams of the Serie A champions. The second came as an input from the Anglo-Saxon countries: a new source of alternative income for the clubs was beginning to emerge, linked to the sales of the jerseys.

Lazio, after two years of adidas sponsorship and Serie B, wanted to return to the top: a renewal that also passed through the image of the club.

President Casoni relied on the company of Pescara to combine quality and tradition and also satisfy the new main sponsor: the electronics company Sèleco. Raccuglia redesigned the classic light blue shirt: a futuristic design that left the classic color only in the lower part of the shirt, which for the upper half became white and was dominated at chest height by a stylized eagle that hugged the footballer up to the shoulders, passing on the sleeves. This design is also reproduced in the uniform of this season because they had something magical. In fact they matched chromatically with every other kind of color: for the first and last time in their history Lazio played in 1982 all the matches of the Italian Cup and Serie A wearing the so-called "maglia bandiera", except for the one played in Como when they worn the third green jersey. The second red jersey was never used.

The Longobarda shirt, thanks to the popularity of the film, soon became an icon of those years, along with the other uniforms that were worn in the "real" fields. In 1983 NR was the technical sponsor of Triestina and created the historical jersey that presented the halberd at the center, while in 1985 he has dressed Pisa during the first international victory of its history: the Mitropa Cup.

In that year also the Italian National Football Team dressed NR for seven games in the first part of the season: at the time it was forbidden for national teams to expose the logo of the technical sponsor and so it was invented the suits that had the logo in the buckle.

Among great successes, the attack of oriental productions and new market demands led Raccuglia to review his plans and to separate himself from the partners with whom he had founded the company.

They tried to produce product not made of 100% acrylic, but in polyester as done by the biggest companies of that time: NR found big problems with the players who believed in the thermo-protective effect of the lance and “Principe” Giannini discussed with the company: during winter Roma wore the old shirts in some games.

 

NAPOLI AND MARADONA

In 1985 Raccuglia left the company, which was owned only by Lazzarini family, also founders and owners of "Pantofola d'Oro", one of the most famous brands of soccer shoes of the time. As the same Raccuglia said:

"I had a marvelous relationship with Emidio Lazzarini, the one who brought the production of soccer shoes to the family business. With the Lazzarini family I joined my NR brand and Pantofola d'Oro brand, then for personal reasons the company broke up and shortly after my release, it failed".

Raccuglia created soon created a new brand, Ennedue, to continue drawing the best sweaters in the market.

He personally maintained relations with the clubs, through the knowledge gained over years. The most important was certainly the sponsorship with Napoli: at the time it was the teams that paid the technical suppliers for materials and Napoli chose NR.

Raccuglia created shirts for Napoli as early as 1978 and the collaboration continued over the years through personal relationships with Maradona and the president Ferlaino.

From 1987 to 1990 they won two league titles, one Italian Cup, one Italian Super Cup and one UEFA Cup. The historical jerseys with the sponsors Mars and Buitoni, with Scudetto and Coppa Italia patches sewn together on the fabric, also presented the initial NR. The jersey with the number 10 of Maradona is an antique for Neapolitan who still today produce non-original replicas, nostalgic of the models of the time: from the one made by Raccuglia to the latest, with the iconic white wave.

The quality of the products of the brand is also displayed by a detail that is told by Raccuglia: at tha time Maradona was sponsored Puma and the team used soccer balls of the German brand during the matches, as was usual in all teams. The Argentinean, after trying the NR-marked balls and finding them pleasant to the touch as were the materials of the uniforms, required a supply of 50 pieces that were used for some games by Napoli.

 

CAME ABROAD

Thanks to his close friendship with Chinaglia, Raccuglia was already present abroad at the end of the 70s: he produced the jerseys of New York Cosmos when the Italian striker played in the team.

The brand was also leased abroad to a Japanese textile company, which also produced adidas and Nike products. Several Japanese teams, including the Kashima Antlers in which Zico also played, presented the NR logo on the uniforms.

After the failure of NR, the latter quickly disappeared from the uniforms of the best Italian teams.

However, the new brand of Raccuglia, Ennedue, remained in football becoming technical sponsor as well as numerous Italian football teams such as Atalanta, Fiorentina, Palermo, Pescara, Ternana, Foggia, Dinamo Bucharest which for the 1991 season was also the commercial sponsor present on the jerseys, Partizan Tirana and the National team of Ivory Coast, Togo and Nigeria.

The winning of Uruguay in the Copa America of 1995 is wrongly attributed to the former player from Palermo: as happened for the Japanese teams, even for Celeste the uniforms were not directly produced in the mother factory in Montesilvano now bankrupt but the Japanese company, having the trademark rights in concession, continued to use it. The jacket worn in the victorious final against Brazil only stylistically reminded the historical ones produced in Italy: the white and blue collar, the long neckline and the long sleeves with the white cuffs were all made of polyester and the difference, compared to the knitted wools, you could see visually in the colors, much less bright compared to those worn by the greatest players of the eighties.

The last appearance of the NR brand in the playgrounds was in 2011, when they appeared for half a season in the Tokyo Verdy uniforms in JLeague, through the Japanese company that held the rights.

 

 

TODAY

Although disappeared from football fields, the brand has always remained alive in the memory of collectors: on the Facebook page of the brand are periodically published vintage photos and comments recall the quality and beauty of those uniforms, which soon we could see again on the fields to football. Raccuglia, after more than thirty years since the company's release, is again the owner of the rights of the brand that today manages with his son.

Since 2017 Ennerre has been reborn and, reliving the period of glory that characterized it in 80s and 90s, today offers a streetwear collection that combines Italian elegance with the aesthetics of minimal design and the taste of street culture, characterizing aspects of Japanese fashion.

The brand, present at the latest editions of Pitti Uomo, aims to create design sportswear products that are not only functional but are fashion items.

The Raccuglia family also wants to return to the world of football: a vintage line will soon be revived waiting to see new champions with the green N and R surrounded by black on the game uniform.