Robe di Kappa

Robe di Kappa, Casual Wear

Robe di Kappa, not to be confused with the almost homonymous Kappa brand – is an informal clothing brand, designed for those who want to wear quality casual classics in their leisure and professional activities, but at affordable prices. However, the brand is owned by the Turin-based BasicNet Group, the same company whose portfolio also includes the Kappa brand. For that reason it is aimed at a completely different market segment: activewear and streetwear clothing, accessories and footwear.

The beginnings

The brand was born in 1968 as a spin-off of the pre-existing Kappa brand, created in 1956, which at that time was an underwear brand owned by Maglificio Calzificio Torinese, founded in 1916 by the entrepreneur Abramo Vitale.

Economic difficulties

Afterwards economic strength and commercial expansion, in 1968 Maglificio Calzificio Torinese was in serious financial difficulty. The warehouses were full of unsold long and short-sleeved health shirts. Bankruptcy was near, It is said that one day in Paris, 23-year-old Maurizio Vitale – great-grandson of the founder and newly appointed managing director stopped to watch John Lennon during a television interview: he was wearing the shirt of a fallen man in Vietnam.  Later, the young Vitale realized that times were changing and that all young people would want to follow in the footsteps of their idol, abandoning formal clothing – until then practically compulsory in universities, at work and even in leisure time – in favour of informal, unisex fashion.


So it was that Maurizio Vitale had the unsold T-shirts dyed military green. The seamstresses at Maglificio Calzificio Torinese sewed ranks and stars onto them. Thanks to Kappa’s sales network, the new product conquered Italy. Giuseppe Lattes, the elderly president of the Turin-based company, while rejoicing at the young entrepreneur’s intuition, referred to the new T-shirts – very strange in his eyes – as “robe”. And Maurizio Vitale had his second intuition: the Robe di Kappa brand was born.

Robe di Kappa, the famous polo shirt

Vitale soon identified the polo shirt as the ideal garment to represent the new brand: a product that immediately became an icon and that – 50 years later – remains the brand’s best seller, offered every season in dozens of graphics and colours, both classic and new. The Robe di Kappa polo shirt is still today the result of a long and rigorous industrial process: the pique fabric is obtained from cotton honeycomb, while the interlocking stitching on the shoulder guarantees a long-lasting fit.

Robe di Kappa polo shirt
Robe di Kappa polo shirt

Later in 1968 to the present day, the Robe di Kappa brand has progressively abandoned unisex in favour of the total look, with collections that – in addition to the famous polo shirt – have for many years also included jumpers, knitwear, trousers, shorts, skirts, dresses, shirts, blouses, T-shirts and accessories. The Robe di Kappa brand is mainly distributed on the Italian market, through more than 100 mono-brand shops. Some of them are owned by the BasicNet Group; the majority operate in franchising.

In space

Moreover, In July 2017, a version of the Robe di Kappa polo shirt was “launched into Space” as part of the personal equipment of the International Space Station team: made of EcoTech, a vegetable fibre that guarantees greater water repellence and less bacterial growth, it was subjected to quality tests for two months, which it passed.

The Robe di Kappa logo

Robe di Kappa celebrates 50 years
Robe di Kappa celebrates 50 years

The Robe di Kappa brand is often confused with the Kappa brand, which is aimed at a very different market segment and which – unlike Robe di Kappa – is a global brand, present in more than 120 markets around the world, on 5 continents.

The misunderstanding certainly stems from the logo. Both brands, in fact, are represented by the silhouette of a boy and a girl sitting on the ground, leaning back to back with their legs bent. The one sewn on Robe di Kappa garments is smaller and more discreet; the one on Kappa collections is larger and more “explosive”. In both cases, it is the only logo in the clothing sector that represents a human figure, rather than an animal or a graphic sign.

Famous Ambassadors

The brand has had some famous ambassadors over the decades, all of whom have been immortalised wearing Robe di Kappa polo shirts by equally famous photographers (including Oliviero Toscani). From football coach Marcello Lippi to singer and showman Elio (Elio e le Storie Tese); from Napoli’s idol Diego Armando Maradona to F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve; from motorbike racing star Loris Capirossi to TV presenter Piero Chiambretti.

From fencer Andrea Baldini to volleyball player Francesca Piccinini; from Italian ski siblings Matteo and Francesca Marsaglia to international golf lady Diana Luna.

Luca Argentero in Robe di Kappa
Luca Argentero in Robe di Kappa

In 2020, actor Luca Argentero becomes Robe di Kappa’s testimonial for the men’s fashion spring/summer 2020 collection. The collection features the brand’s famous polo shirt interpreted according to the codes of contemporary fashion.

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