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The history and inspiration behind the Hellas Verona kits

Interview with Francesco Ciampa, the mind behind the Scaligeri's Dante kits

The history and inspiration behind the Hellas Verona kits Interview with Francesco Ciampa, the mind behind the Scaligeri's Dante kits

The first and third kits produced by Macron for Hellas Verona have a significant pattern that combines all the elements of a modern jersey: storytelling, aesthetics, cultural references, links with the city and fans, attention to detail. A creative process that lasts months and involves study, research, work with the club's and the brand's designers, all phases that serve to arrive at the concepts that will be analysed before christening what will go into production. Anticipating trends, understanding the feelings and moods of fans and matching the aesthetics of a team and a city are the main tasks of the minds behind the shirts. We asked Francesco Ciampa, current Marketing & Communication Manager at Aquila Basket Trento and former product manager at Hellas Verona, to create the jerseys celebrating Dante Alighieri. Francesco followed the creative process, starting from the idea and going all the way through. He explained how all the dots come together, what it takes to go beyond the court and how important the concrete story behind a kit is.

Which part of the creative and production process is more delicate and requires more attention?

Concept and storytelling are central to the creation of a modern jersey, a garment that is in line with the aesthetic and emotional expectations of each individual fan. It is no coincidence that the most advanced football clubs have understood that it is necessary to start with a story to arrive at the shirt. And then you need a competent team behind you, and at Hellas I was able to work with a great professional like Luca Rossi, who made my job a lot easier. As well as Matteo Viscione, a huge fan of the yellow-blue team, and the entire marketing and commercial department of Verona. Without them it would have been impossible to do anything. And you'll see next year's shirts... which, before I left, I edited together with the whole team and which Sabrina Gnisci, a very good graphic designer who is sick of football, put on paper.

How do you combine all the components (historical, emotional and aesthetic) of a jersey into one big project?

Sensitivity, as mentioned, and curiosity. It starts with these two pillars without which one should not even approach the undertaking. Sensitivity and curiosity are combined with respect for the club in terms of its history and, above all, its fans. You have to erase all your certainties and reinvent yourself every time, if we think about it, it's a rule of life as well as a modus operandi.

How much does a good narrative - translated into storytelling terms - of the shirt affect the economy of a kit release?

It's essential. It draws the line for every type of communication and makes it successful. Let's be honest: today's fans are much more attentive and knowledgeable than in the past, and they immediately understand if there's nothing behind the product on offer. That's what happens in the world of streetwear, where I come from. There, then, there is an awareness of the purchase that comforts those who decide to go to market with a story to tell. It happened to me with the creation of Run&Gun, a brand with clear basketball DNA that the public appreciated for its clarity of purpose. Today I have sold the brand, but the challenge for the new owners will be precisely that of not betraying its origins. Which, as Sorrentino teaches in La Grande Bellezza, are important.


The jersey is full of details: from the gate of the Arche Scaligere to the phrase from Canto XVII of Paradise, right up to the claim "In the name of Verona". As an acquired Veronese, what detail are you most attached to?

Every Veronese person is closely linked to the 'texture' on the gate of the Scaliger arches. A widespread urban heritage, a second skin for many. In the true sense of the word, since so many fans have tattooed that motif on their bodies. That's where I started to create the two jerseys (the first and the third) that I wanted, and signed, personally. But I, who am Veronese by adoption and not by birth, am particularly fond of the verses in which Dante speaks of Bartolomeo della Scala, calling him the Great Lombard. Like Dante, I have been welcomed, adopted and loved by the city of Verona and its people, and what I can give back in relation to what I have had will never be enough. But, in the end, I think it was just mutual empathy, the same empathy that has allowed me (and allows me) to feel at home in every place I have worked. You just have to approach it with humility and transparency, and the rest will follow. 

How long did the contextualisation and historical research take?Dante is not immediately linked to Verona because in the collective imagination he is the symbol of Florence: was this more of an obstacle or an opportunity?

E qui veniamo alla curiosità, quella scimmiesca che mi ha sempre contraddistinto da quando, bambino, leggevo le etichette dei capi d’abbigliamento o gli ingredienti di una merendina. La ricerca storica è affascinante ed entusiasmante ma è altrettanto importante immergersi nell’humus cittadino. La mia Verona è il centro storico ma è anche le sue bestemmie, la sua rude working class, la sua follia carnevalesca. Sedersi al tavolo di un’osteria e parlare di calcio davanti a un goto di vino con il mio cane sotto la sedia è l’idea di felicità più vicina alla mia identità. Solo così ho capito quanto Dante sia centrale nella vita della città; perché è a quei tavoli che ho conosciuto professori o semplici portatori sani di un genius loci difficilmente afferrabile se ci si approccia da autodidatti agli umori della comunità.

What has the football shirt become and how do you think football aesthetics have evolved?

"The Bologna shirt seven days a week" sang Luca Carboni. Well, that's what I was when I was a kid and today the jersey is still a second skin for those who dream of wearing the colours of their champions. It's a different story for adults, who have made passivity their banner and are unlikely to give up the historical jersey to which they are, for various reasons, attached. There is, however, a large segment of trend-conscious youngsters who see the football shirt as an iconic garment but also functional to their outfit. These are the ones who are pushing for a return to the 90s. But this discourse deserves its own chapter.