In a 1990 FIFA World Cup match against the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia), Italian player Roberto Baggio scored a goal that set the world alight. After a slick pass from fellow player, Giuseppe Giannini, the 23-year-old wunderkind strode towards the goal as if propelled by destiny. He deftly faked out Czech defender Miroslav Kadlec and set his sight on the net. The ball left his foot and sailed into the bottom corner. All of Italy seemed to swell in collective celebration. Baggio sank to the ground in wonder at both himself and his circumstance — he and his feet had just changed the history of Italian soccer. And on those feet were a pair of Diadora sneakers, a brand that would become synonymous with his illustrious career.
A player known as much for his personal style as for his prowess on the pitch, Baggio is the centerpiece of a biopic premiering May 26 on Netflix. Baggio: The Divine Ponytail charts the player’s meteoric rise from small-town player to an icon of the international scene. In addition to his historic 1990 performance, Baggio led the Italian team in two other highly successful World Cup campaigns before the end of the decade. To talk about the Italian national team and their 90s-era reign is to talk about their impossibly cool and infinitely slick Diadora-outfitted image.
The Italian brand outfitted the team for their World Cup appearances in looks that helped them stand out both on and off the pitch. And while moments like Baggio’s historic goal made headlines at the time, the Diadora wardrobe which blended inherent Italian panache with athletic functionality continues to leave its indelible mark.
Lucky for us, the brand is back with a capsule collection paying homage to the specific alchemy of fashion and sport that those glory years have come to symbolize. The line pays tribute to the 1994 US World Cup when Italy advanced to the finals and lost in an unfortunate penalty shoot-out to Brazil. Though they didn’t emerge victoriously, the team, and particularly Baggio’s performance, was so memorable that we’re still talking about them almost 20 years later.
The collection itself is comprised of a track jacket, polos, and a pair of socks that recreate that sweet ‘90s design. All the pieces feature the Diadora Italian flag logo, with accents of the crisp blue so closely associated with the Italian national team. Across one of the polos and the track jacket are triangle flag motifs that hearken to a perfectly ‘90s style of graphic design. The clothing in the collection is manufactured by the same supplier as in 1994, so you know it’s the real deal.
Diadora will resurface their Intrepid OG shoe in a cream, gray and red colorway for the collection. The sneaker is a gem in their catalog that’s being brought to today with spruced-up details and reimagined with modern footwear technology, for that Baggio feel without sacrificing functionality.
Marcello Danieli founded Diadora in 1948 in Veneto, Italy. His first design was a pair of mountain climbing boots. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the company became synonymous with the sport-meets-style image it holds today. A fruitful partnership with tennis legend Björn Borg and a concerted push to align with the world of soccer aided the company’s ascendance into the upper echelon of elite sportswear brands.
Before Baggio, there was Borg. The tennis champion was nothing short of a celebrity during the late ‘70s and ‘80s as he came to dominate the courts, winning Wimbledon five consecutive years and earning the title of the best player in the world, all before the age of 26. During Borg’s meteoric rise to fame, Diadora was there to outfit him. The brand aligned with the tennis star as he sported the B. Elite sneaker model on television screens around the world. Borg’s legacy lives on as one of the greatest players to look that great while playing — Diadora is an indelible part of that heritage.
Over the next two decades, the company embedded itself further into the world of sports. As athletes found themselves in an increasingly bigger spotlight, Diadora made sure to keep them looking their best. They became tastemakers for an entire generation of athletes, dressing the likes of Pat Cash, Andrea Zorzi, and Antonio Cabrini.
In Baggio, the brand found a kindred spirit. The Italian player brought an artistry to his on-field play that struck a chord with the company’s ethos of individuality and commitment to mastery. As Baggio climbed the ranks of the soccer world (and his ponytail grew longer) the two formed something of a symbiotic relationship: Diadora outfitted Baggio while he repeatedly broke records.
Diadora has continued to be a mainstay in the sneaker and sportswear market. They’ve blended their eye for craftsmanship with the desire for clothes that fit our increasingly dynamic lives, across decades and generations. Keeping a foot in the present and an eye on the future, they stay dictating and predicting trends.
Take, for example, the iconic N9000 sneaker, in many ways a symbol of the company itself. The sneaker originated as a running model from the 1990 catalog, yet through the years it's been reimagined countless times. In 2014, Diadora partnered with the Scottish streetwear experts over at HANON to release a special edition of the shoe that drew inspiration from Diadora's impact on UK style. The two partnered again in 2019 for a collab that birthed a teal green and marine blue shoe with red callouts, colors that honored a B-side design from the archives of the original drawings. Keeping in line with the brand's heritage and excellence in Italian footwear production, the sneakers continue to be manufactured at the original Diadora factory in the Montebelluna district of Caerano di San Marco. Other collaborators have included 24 Kilates, LC23, and even Highsnobiety. In 2019, we partnered with the Diadora to design a special shoe inspired by New York City. It was released in a light blue, gray, and black colorway.
With such a rich history, Diadora has nothing short of an extensive archive to plumb for creative reimaginings. Their collabs and collections are inspired by their history but never fail to connect with the modern customer. Borg and Baggio may no longer rule the airwaves, but so much of the style precedents they set continue to dominate. As the desire for nostalgia models, is reaching its peak, who better to deliver than the company that set the trends to begin with?
It’s only fitting that Diadora taps into the current ‘90s revival and revisit their looks from that era. This time around, however, incorporating a contemporary twist into their classic designs. The 1994 World Cup was a legacy-making experience for the Italian team — this collection captures that gravitas and makes it wearable. With signature colors and familiar silhouettes, Diadora gives you the chance to be your own Baggio, whether you’re on or off the field.
Get your hands on the collection online here.