How Petra rethought the modern sportswear brand

From sustainably sourced fabrics to unrivalled versatility, brand founder Pietro Boselli explains how his latest venture has reinvented the sportswear sector

Pietro Boselli is a perfectionist. Every time the 30-year-old fashion model, athlete, engineer and teacher turns his talents to a new enterprise, he meticulously lays the groundwork, plans for every eventuality and is intimately involved during all stages of development. Only then, the Italian tells us, is he comfortable putting his name to a project.

And, with his latest endeavour, the Italian has done just that. Petra — meaning rock or stone in ancient Latin — is also the linguistic origin of Pietro, and is the name Boselli chose for his newly launched, vaguely eponymous sportswear brand.

Designed in London and created in Italy, Petra is unlike any other brand in the sportswear sector. Unlike the big players, the range is small and versatile. There’s a reasonable price tag attached, but there’s also method in the money; for garments this good do not come cheap. We asked Boselli what sets Petra apart…

Versatility is the core concept for Petra

“We live in an ever more complex world,” explains Boselli, revealing how he drew up his business plan. “You have to be able to reinvent yourself and stay relevant to the times. Explore all your talents. And the same goes when starting a business — you have to be nimble, quick, adaptable.”

"You have to be able to reinvent yourself and stay relevant to the times..."

The items in the Petra range, including tank tops, technical shorts and t-shirts, were designed so they could be combined into several different, co-ordinating outfits, Boselli reveals.

“They allow you to perform a variety of different physical activities,” he says, “as well as look good going to and from the gym. Narrowing down the selection definitely encourages versatility, and the idea that less is more. This is also in line with current trends of maintaining a minimalist wardrobe.”

Sustainability was also an important watchword

How Petra rethought the modern sportswear brand

With environmental concerns shaping big businesses, Boselli decided that his brand should also take an eco-friendly stance. The Italian calls sustainability an ‘essential’ part of modern business, and took steps to ensure that every Petra garment is as ethical as it is stylish.

“Having the garments made in Italy,” he explains, “means that we have access to state of the art manufacturing. Recycled textiles, recycled polyester from PET bottles or recycled nylon from fishing nets.

“It is important for consumers to recycle,” he adds, “but it is equally important for businesses to create a market for recycled products. This will eventually reduce the cost of recycling, making it more economically viable over time.”

Style is a defining quality of Petra sportswear

As a fashion model himself, Boselli recognises the importance of style. And so, despite function and sustainability being important to his business plan, the Italian knew that the cornerstone of his business had to be fashion.

“I wanted to achieve something that looks striking, but without being flashy,” Boselli explains. “Something that would endure the test of time not only in quality — but also aesthetically.

"I wanted to achieve something that looks striking, but without being flashy..."

“So the first step is visual inspiration,” he continues. “Followed by technical considerations. Like any multi-objective design problem encountered in the engineering field, we have to first lay out the objectives clearly, even if they contrast with one another. The garments have to look good, the fabric has to feel good — but also be durable. And so on.”

“It combines all of my life experiences as a lifelong fashion model, athlete and engineer,” Boselli rounds off. “And that’s why I wanted to make technical sportswear — branded as fashion.”

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Further Reading