Where did the baby name Ellesse come from?

Ellesse sunglasses advertisement featuring tennis player Chris Evert, 1985.
Ellesse ad featuring Chris Evert (1985)

The name Ellesse started popping up in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1980s:

  • 1988: 12 baby girls named Ellesse
    • 6 born in California
  • 1987: 12 baby girls named Ellesse
    • 8 born in California
  • 1986: 10 baby girls named Ellesse [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The Italian sportswear brand Ellesse (pronounced el-ES), the name of which was derived from the initials of the founder, Leonardo Servadio (“L. S.”).

The brand grew popular during the 1970s and 1980s thanks to close associations with the sports of skiing and tennis. Tennis stars Guillermo Vilas, Chris Evert, and Boris Becker were all sponsored by Ellesse. In fact, Becker was wearing Ellesse outfits when he won Wimbledon in both 1985 and 1986.

Advertisements and tennis sponsorships may have been enough to boost “Ellesse” into the baby name data in 1986, but two more things that might have helped as well include:

  • Ellesse’s sponsorship of the New York City Marathon from 1984 to 1986, and/or
  • Ellesse’s partnership with Philadelphia 76ers player Maurice “Mo” Cheeks — at that time, a recent NBA champion and recent All-Star — to create Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes in 1985.
Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes
Ellesse Cheeks

All that said…I can’t account for the particularly high usage of Ellesse in California. Any ideas? (Is there a telenovela I’m missing here?)

What do you think of “Ellesse” as a baby name?

Sources:

P.S. Brittania and Generra are two other sportswear brands that became baby names…

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