Origin of style Featured

From exclusive sport to global lifestyle culture: the fascinating story of La Martina

Polo is something special. A team sport that celebrates the mystical union between man and horse, played in locations of Arcadian beauty. It evokes courage, elegance, prestige and tradition. It has spawned some style icons, principally through the work of La Martina, the brand that, perhaps more than any other, actively promotes the sport from which it originated.

La Martina was founded by Lando Simonetti, an Argentinean of Italian origin who played polo in his youth, and saw the opportunity of making high quality equipment for professional players: from its foundation in 1985, his company began crafting saddles, boots, shirts and caps. In 2002, La Martina exhibited at Pitti Uomo in Florence, effectively marking its entrance into the fashion circuit. Today, La Martina has over 60 flagship stores all over the world, in cities that include London, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are perfect expressions of the brand, with a fascinating classical vintage style that reflects its Anglo-Argentinean roots.

Polo was given its modern-day rules principally by the British Army in the late 1800s. At that time, players wore very formal clothing: impeccable white shirts, bow ties, white trousers and regimental boots. Fifty years layer, the fashion of shirts had changed, and collars had very long tips. To prevent them flapping up in the wind during play, a tailor had the idea of adding buttons: this was the origin of the button-down shirt.

During practice, the military players often used jersey T-shirts, part of their underwear. They found them so comfortable that they were adapted for use in matches, by adding a three-button opening at the top, and player numbers on the front. The result: the polo shirt, which later became the ideal vehicle for sponsors' logos. La Martina was naturally the preferred supplier, and had the problem of finding a place for their own logo. The solution: just below the first button. The result was a new, iconic polo jersey, the '19-42.'

Today, alongside its fashion products, the brand is tireless in its promotion of the sport. Its equipment enhances the protection of both riders and ponies. La Martina has created a department that works exclusively on the organization of polo events such as (to mention just a few this autumn), the President's Cup in England, and the Lawyers Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Each year, La Martina is involved in over 90 international events in 36 countries. The brand's prestige is reinforced by partnerships with clubs worldwide, amongst which the Guards Polo Club, closely associated with the British Royal Family. Prince Philip is President, William and Harry are members and players. Polo is undoubtedly the sport of kings.