They’re the chunky, thick-soled throwbacks to the 1990s known as “dad shoes.” And they’re beloved by millennials, whose fascination with retro footwear has brought Fila back from the dead.
They’ve also helped Yoon Yoon-soo amass an unlikely fortune. Gene, as he’s known in English, is estimated to be worth about $830 million through his stake in Fila Korea Ltd., which acquired the global Fila brand in 2007 in what South Korean media called a shrimp swallowing a whale. Yoon went on to oversee a revival in Fila’s fortunes, sending shares of his company surging.
Central to Fila’s comeback was its move to bring back iconic products from the ’90s, targeting shoppers craving classic looks. Its “Disruptor 2” sneakers, for example, reintroduced in 2017, were among the most popular women’s shoes at one point last year, according to global fashion search platform Lyst. Fila estimates that more than 10 million pairs were sold as of January.
Yoon, 73, declined to comment for this story. He told a local newspaper in South Korea in 2017 that Fila is more than just a sports brand to him. “It’s more like a baby I had at the late age of 45,” he said.
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