Here’s some sneaker trivia: ellesse’s Tanker tennis shoe was one of the first artist collaborations in the history of footwear. In 1982, the Tanker debuted as the brainchild of founder Leonardo Servadio with industrial designer Marc Sadler, who made his name in industrial sport design with ski boots and moto equipment. Designed as a classic tennis court sneaker, the Tanker demonstrated Sadler’s industrial finesse in the jacquard label and cup sole. Thanks to Sadler's ski design prowess, the Tanker successfully combined the two sports that ellesse has come from—tennis and ski—as the Tanker's outsole is inspired by a ski boot. To top it all off, ellesse sported its branding on the shoe's upper, which was rare for brands to do at the time.
For their AW20 collection, ellesse is relaunching the classic Tanker with updated materials, fabrics, and colorways while retaining the shoe’s original silhouette. The relaunch arrives in a new series that revisits silhouettes dug deep from the brand archive that best reflect the brand DNA, and relaunched for the modern day. Of the eight key designs chosen, the Tanker is the most beloved and recognizable.
Tennis and skiing have long been core to the brand’s heritage. Founded in Perugia in 1959, ellesse gained early esteem in bringing exquisite tailoring to ski- and tennis-wear in particular. Since then, the brand has been worn by tennis superstars such as Chris Evert, Pat Cash, and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. The Tanker’s near-instant popularity is largely due to its sophisticated design and its iconic outer sole, making it a crossover success worn on and off the tennis courts. Almost immediately, the shoe was adopted by streetwear enthusiasts.
Nearly forty years later, the Tanker is getting a full relaunch. For the brand's SS20 campaign, the Tanker was outfitted with SAINt JHN. For AW20, the Tanker comes in winterised versions for the cold weather, including the Tanker Quilted, which features chevron quilting detail and trail laces as a nod to the brand's ski heritage. In addition, the Tanker Peak silhouette arrives with ripstop nylon panels integrated in the upper with visible stitching showcasing the brand's tailoring prowess.
“Flamboyance with tailoring finesse” is how ellesse brand director Simon Beckon describes the brand’s creative vision, then and now. “Ultimately, our aim has been to transition from a ’90s nostalgia brand into a global sports player. A lot of people associate us with the ’90s and we’ve definitely capitalised on this, but the ’90s trend will die eventually – and there’s so much more in ellesse’s archive and heritage to build on.”
So much more, indeed. Head here to see more from Tanker.