A Story of Friendship, Passion and Made in Italy

In the name of Dorando Pietri and his story of passion for sport a new brand was born. Dorando currently produces two collections of running clothes per year focusing on natural fibres

1 apertThis is a story of passion, determination and will. Exactly as the story of the man whose name inspired three young Italian men starting two years ago a technical sport apparel company. His name is Dorando Pietri, the Italian athlete that has become part of history for the dramatic end of the marathon at the 1908 Olympic Games in London: he cut the line first, thanks to the intervention of the umpires who helped him up a few times after seeing him staggering over, exhausted by fatigue. Because of that help he was disqualified and lost the gold medal, but the images and the story of his arrival, diffused around the world, delivered him to the history of athletics. Still today, Dorando Pietri is the symbol of perseverance, love for sports and success against difficulties.

This is one of the reasons why, Antonio Benecchi, Marco Sabbadini and another friend, all of them passionate for running, during a dinner out decided to give the name Dorando to their new venture. The other reason is well explained by Antonio Benecchi: «We are three friends, we have been working for years and still do it for multinational industrial companies. But one and a half year ago, during the economic crisis that invested Italy and when everyone complained about production offshoring, we decided to go against the tide and to try to do something: a company that produces and creates jobs in Italy, manufacturing sport apparel for running, a sport that we all love».

Starting from Our Heritage

The fabrics used by Dorando are made with Lenpur, merino wool and silk
The fabrics used by Dorando are made with Lenpur, merino wool and silk

They also choose the textile sector because they think that food and garment are the two sectors that characterize and distinguish Italian manufacturing. ««There is a “made in Italy” that needs to be saved and protected, food and agriculture – Benecchi adds – and there is a “made in Italy” to rebuild, and this is the textile industry. If Italy has become known as a leader in fashion, it’s because of to the textile production chain that, for centuries, worked and improved processes and products. The taste in clothing has been supported by the skills of generations of spinners, dyers, weavers and tailors, just like industrial design has been supported by metal workers’ abilities. Today, we have fewer of these people than in the past. If they disappeared, our excellence in fashion would end in the same way. We thought to use this heritage to create something new in the sports world».

Natural Fibres First

Dorando currently produces two collections of running clothes per year, like t-shirts, shorts, leggings, long-leeve shirts and underwear, for men and women. The fabrics are made with Lenpur, merino wool and silk. «We decided to use natural fibers, and we are still trying to improve this choice», Antonio Benecchi underlines. «In this moment, we are testing bamboo fibers, that we are using for a line of sleeveless shirt for the hottest months of the year. Bamboo, as well as hemp, is very interesting. We think that acrylic and syntethic fibers have a lower quality, but big sports brand succeeded in imposing them on the market thanks to big marketing and communications budgets. Dorando is a high end product, focused on those runners who can spend a little bit more for their clothes and would like to wear something natural, that gives them excellent performances because wool guarantees a great thermic regulation, a fast drying and comfort on the skin during the physical effort. Lenpur has also very good antibacterial features».

The Dorando line is designed by Elena Pignata, a young and very talented fashion designer from Turin, the same place where the company has its warehouse. Production is made by small textile companies in Piedmont and Lombardy that also work for famous fashion brands. «We didn’t have any previous know-how in textile and garment – Marco Sabbadini, another one of the three founders, says – we just know about management and finance thanks to our jobs. At the very beginning, we had the consultancy of a friend that works in the textile world, who gave us the first technical advice and contacts. We met several textile companies to choose the ones that could

Dorando currently produces two collections of running clothes per year, like t-shirts, shorts, leggings, long-leeve shirts and underwear, for men and women
Dorando currently produces two collections of running clothes per year, like t-shirts, shorts, leggings, long-leeve shirts and underwear, for men and women

help us turn our ideas into reality. We did a lot of tests with prototypes and we asked also some professional runners to wear our T-shirts and shorts to understand if we were going in the right direction. Step after step, we reached a standard that is satisfying». For the spring-summer 2015 collection, they also made some tests using natural colors for dyeing. The weaving technique for Lenpur is a very fine piquet, obtained from a double twist yarn.

Marketing and Distribution Strategy

Currently, Dorando running apparel is only sold online at the website. They deliver everywhere in Italy within three days with express courier, but normally the goods arrive in 24 hours. The marketing strategy is entirely committed to social networks, word of mouth and blogger reviews. «At the moment – Marco Sabbadini explains – we are not ready to face the traditional retail chain. We are not big enough. But for the future… Who knows? E-commerce is a very good selling system because it is efficient and gives us the opportunity to reach our clients directly and learn about their profile, expectations and locations. These data will be fundamental to evolve our products, that for the moments are focused only on runners. Other sports could be taken into consideration once we have a wider experience but, for now, we are not thinking about it».

Dorando also has two testimonials: the Italian marathon runner Michele Evangelisti and Marco Chinazzo, a non-professional runner that in 2013 completed a run across all Italian regions to support a group of charities and it is now planning to run from Turin to Bejing, alone. Two athletes that accepted to use Dorando garments not only for their features but also for their name, that reminds them of the epic race of Pietri and inspires them with passion and motivation. Something that could sound immaterial, but sometimes is as important as fibers and clothes.