They’re the chunky, thick-soled throwbacks to the 1990s known as dad shoes. And they’re liked through millennials, whose fascination with unfashionable footwear has brought Fila returned from the dead.
They’ve also helped Yoon Yoon-soo amass a not-going fortune. Gene, as he’s known in English, is predicted to be worth about $830 million thru his stake in Fila Korea Ltd., which received the global Fila brand in 2007 in what South Korean media known as a shrimp swallowing a whale. Yoon oversaw a revival in Fila’s fortunes, sending stocks of his business enterprise surging.
Central to Fila’s comeback changed into its circulate to deliver returned iconic products from the ’90s, focused on customers yearning conventional seems. For example, its “Disruptor 2” footwear, reintroduced in 2017, has been some of the maximum famous ladies’ shoes at one point ultimate year, in line with international fashion seek platform Lyst. Fila estimates that more than 10 million pairs were offered as of January.
Yoon, 73, declined to remark for this tale. He informed a neighborhood newspaper in South Korea in 2017 that Fila is more than only a sports activities emblem to him. “It’s more like a baby I had on the overdue age of 45,” he said.
Fila has also been helped with the aid of celebrities wearing its merchandise — U.S. Model Kendall Jenner and singer Rihanna have been visible in garb bearing Fila’s iconic pink, white and blue brand — and via its fairly low pricing.
“Fila modified its goal from humans in their 30s and 40s to more youthful customers while slicing costs,” said Na Eun-Chae, an analyst at Seoul-based brokerage Korea Investment & Securities Co. “That labored nicely, along with its focus on the shoe phase.”
Fila Korea stocks have surged 400% from the beginning of the final 12 months thru Friday, boosting its market cost to $4.Three billion. The stock rose as a great deal as 0.Four% in early buying and selling Monday. Yoon and his circle of relatives very own, approximately 20% of the agency.
Yoon, an overdue bloomer who graduated from college in his 30s, started at Fila in 1991 as head of the organization’s South Korea commercial enterprise, earning an annual salary of $1.Five million. But he had his sights set on bigger matters. In January 2007, he spearheaded a $four hundred million leveraged buyout of the global Fila logo and its subsidiaries. In 2010, he took the public organization in South Korea.
Originally started in Italy in 1911, Fila was bought to U.S. Personal equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in 2003. Its heyday ended within the 2000s while it suffered from declining income and management made immoderate investments.
Another key part of Yoon’s approach changed into building a majority stake, starting in 2011, inside the organization now known as Acushnet Holdings Corp., the maker of Titleist golf balls. Acushnet indexed its shares in New York in 2016. Fila Korea reported 2018 revenue of three trillion received ($2.6 billion), sixty-one % of which got here from Acushnet, in keeping with Fila Korea.
Fila’s shoes and clothing sales, apart from Acushnet, noticed a fifty-two % increase to one.2 trillion won in 2018 from the yr before, the enterprise said in a presentation.
Yoon by no means estimated a profession in dad shoes and golf balls. His mother died of typhoid quickly after his birth. He misplaced his father to cancer in excessive college and desired to become a physician, but failed three times to get into scientific college. He ended up reading and graduating in political science and international relations.
His age made him an unappealing candidate for access-level jobs at most corporations. After many attempts, Yoon landed at J.C. Penney Co., shopping for Korean products to promote within the U.S. Later, he came throughout Fila in the U.S. And persuaded the company to fabricate footwear in South Korea. After that, Yoon was asked to install and lead the company’s Korean commercial enterprise, which he later sold out earlier than obtaining the worldwide brand.
Fila now operates in greater than 70 countries. The brand is seeing a speedy increase in markets inclusive of China, wherein Fila Korea has a 15% stake in a joint assignment with Anta Sports Products Ltd.
Yoon, who as soon as said he’d like his epitaph to be that he “worked difficultly,” is not going to be judging his fulfillment with the aid of his internet worth alone.
“Wealth accumulation that’s now not morally justified has no which means,” he once advised South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. “We need to appear again on how we made our fortunes.”