Fila lets you own a Ferrari for $110

Shoe hitting stores today in deal with automaker

March 23, 2002|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

You might never experience the thrill of driving a Ferrari on an open highway, but the elite Italian automaker at least has something for your feet: a cross-training athletic shoe.

Under a licensing agreement with automaker Ferrari S.p.A., Italy's Fila Holding S.p.A., whose U.S. subsidiary is based in Sparks, begins selling the shoe today through Footaction USA, a sporting goods retailer with more than 500 outlets nationwide.

The company also will sell Ferrari-brand clothing lines and accessories, such as bags and backpacks, through Web sites and about 100 independent retailers nationwide.

FOR THE RECORD - In Saturday's Business section, a Fila Holding S.p.A. official was not fully identified. The official is Mark Westerman, vice president of marketing communications for Fila Holdings' U.S.-based subsidiary in Sparks. The Sun regrets the error.

For Fila Holding, the venture with Ferrari is an opportunity to use the automaker's high-profile name to help boost apparel and footwear sales in its lagging overseas markets, particularly in Europe and Latin America.

Even though its U.S. sales grew last year, Fila's annual loss was nearly twice that of the previous year, rising to $125.2 million from $66.1 million in 2000.

The Ferrari brand has instant cachet among Formula One aficionados. The world's top Formula One driver, Michael Schumacher, drives a Ferrari racecar.

Fila Holding took over the licensing agreement with Ferrari last year from apparel designer Tommy Hilfiger. Fila's Ferrari Collection offers two lines of apparel and shoes, "replica" and "vintage."

The replica line is geared toward men and essentially offers the same type of footwear and clothing worn by Ferrari's Formula One pit crew. The vintage line offers men, women and children a less-expensive shoe and a broader selection of sportswear.

A "replica" athletic shoe will sell for $110, a "vintage" shoe for $80, said Westerman.

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