Gene Yoon Yoon-Soo is the global chairman of the Italian sportswear company Fila Ltd and the American golf equipment company Acushnet Holdings. The South Korean businessman is widely credited with bringing back the previously ailing sportswear company’s popularity, largely through acquiring the Fila brand in 2007, buying a majority stake in Acushnet, and reintroducing ’90s classics like the “Disruptor” sneakers. The vintage-inspired designs became a hit among Gen-Z, boosting Fila shares by 400 percent by 2019.
After graduating from Seoul High School in 1964, Yoon-Soo studied Political Science and Diplomacy at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, finishing in 1974. Until March 1984, Yoon-Soo worked for international trading and shoe company HwaseungCo., after which he did a short stint at the Korean Shipping Corporation before moving to JC Penney a year later. In 1991, Yoon-Soo got his start heading the Korean arm of Fila, then lead a $400 million leveraged buyout of the global brand, taking the company public in 2010 as its chairman and chief executive.
Fila was founded in 1911 as a top sportswear brand, but by the 2000s, it had lost its status among consumers. Yoon-Soo is credited as the first person to bring Fila into the Korean market, plucking a debt-ridden Fila out of its sales slump when he instigated a management buyout of Fila Korea, elevating its subsidiary status to a domestic firm.
With Yoon-Soo’s desire to craft a universal brand image, perpetuated by Fila’s “One World One Fila” 2017 campaign, the brand solidified its streetstyle staple status, making a comeback as a celebrity favourite, racking up collaborations across high street brands like with Fendi and Urban Outfitters. In 2018, Fila staged its first fashion week in Milan for Spring/Summer 2019 — a milestone for Fila’s revival.
Yoon-Soo oversees Fila’s operations in over 70 countries, and also holds the position of executive vice chairman of the Korean International Trade Association. He published an autobiography in 1997.