Robe di Kappa – not to be confused with the almost alike brand Kappa – is an informal clothing brand, intended for those who want to wear in their free time and in professional activities the classic items of casual quality, but at affordable prices. Robe di Kappa is a brand owned by the BasicNet Group of Turin, the same company that also owns the Kappa brand, which is aimed at a completely different market segment: clothing, accessories and footwear active-wear and streetwear.
Robe di Kappa was founded in 1968 as the backbone of the existing Kappa brand, created in 1956, which at that time was a brand of intimate clothing – stockings and underwear – owned by Maglificio Calzificio Torinese, founded in 1916 by the entrepreneur Abraham Vitale.
After years of economic soundness and commercial expansion, in 1968 Maglificio Calzificio Torinese was in serious financial difficulty. The stores were full of perfectly well unsold shirts, with long and short sleeves. The bankruptcy was close. It is said that one day in Paris, a 23 year old Maurizio Vitale – great grandson of the founder and the new CEO – stopped to observe John Lennon during a television interview: he wore the shirt of a fallen in Vietnam. Young Vitale understood that the times were changing and that all the young people wanted to follow the example of their idol, abandoning formal attire – until then practically compulsory in universities, at work and even in free time – in favor of an informal and unisex fashion.
So, Maurizio Vitale had the unsold shirts dye with military green. The seamstresses of Maglificio Calzificio Torinese sewed over grades and stars. Thanks to the commercial network of Kappa, the new product conquered Italy. Giuseppe Lattes, senior president of the Turin company, while rejoicing at the intuition of the young entrepreneur, pointed to those new shirts – very strange in his eyes – as “stuff”. And Maurizio Vitale had his second intuition: the Robe di Kappa brand was born.
Vitale soon identified in polo-shirt the clothing item that is suitable to represent the new brand: a product that immediately became an icon and that – 50 years later – remains the greatest best seller of the brand, proposed in every season in dozens of graphics and colors , classic and new. The Robe di Kappa polo is still today the result of a long and rigorous industrial process: the piqué fabric is obtained from the honeycomb processing of the cotton, while the interlocking stitching on the shoulder promises to fight the natural weathering of the garment over time.
From 1968 to today, the Robe di Kappa brand has gradually abandoned the unisex in favor of the total look, with collections that – in addition to the famous polo shirt – include for many years also sweaters, jumpers, shoulder garments, trousers, shorts, skirts, dresses , shirts, blouses, T-shirts and accessories. The Robe di Kappa brand is mainly distributed in the Italian market, through more than 100 single-brand stores. Some are owned by the BasicNet Group; the majority operates in franchising.
In July 2017 a version of Robe di Kappa’s Polo was “launched in Space” as part of the personal equipment of the International Space Station team: made of EcoTech, a vegetable fiber that provides greater water repellency and less bacteria formation, that was subjected to two months of quality tests, passed.
Often the Robe di Kappa brand is confused with the Kappa brand, which is instead destined for a very different market segment and which – unlike Robe di Kappa – is a global brand, present in over 120 markets in the world, in the 5 continents.
The misunderstanding certainly comes from the logo. In fact, both brands are represented by the silhouette of a boy and a girl sitting on the ground, leaning back to back with their legs bent. Smaller and more discreet sewed on Robe di Kappa garments; bigger and “prominent” on the Kappa collections. In both cases, it is the only logo in the clothing industry that represents a human figure, instead of an animal or a graphic sign.
The brand has had over the decades famous Ambassadors, all immortalized in the Polo Robe di Kappa by equally famous photographers (one above all: Oliviero Toscani). From the soccer coach Marcello Lippi to the singer and showman Elio (Elio e le Storie Tese); from Napoli Idol Diego Armando Maradona to F1 Champion Jacques Villeneuve; from the champion of motorcycling Loris Capirossi to the TV presenter Piero Chiambretti; from the fencer Andrea Baldini to the volleyball player Francesca Piccinini; passing from the Italian ski brothers Matteo and Francesca Marsaglia to the international lady of golf Diana Luna.