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George Foletta

by William Dargie

oil on canvas (frame: 124.5 cm x 99.0 cm, support: 102.0 cm x 76.5 cm)

George Foletta undated

by William Dargie (1912-2003)

oil on canvas

Gift of the Estate of Alice Myra Foletta 2006

George Gotardo Foletta CMG (1892-1973), manufacturer, worked as a travelling salesman for his father, a fancy goods commission agent, before setting up the Atlas Knitting and Spinning Mills Pty Ltd in Brunswick in 1920. Its circular-knit silk hosiery made an instant market impact and in 1922 the business went public as Prestige Ltd. After a number of reversals, by 1924 the company had become the first Australian knitter to make fully-fashioned silk stockings and had gained dominance of the local hosiery market. Over the 1930s it diversified into lingerie, expanded operations into New Zealand and began spinning rayon as well as silk. In 1944 it branched into weaving. During World War 2 Foletta was Joint Chairman of the Committee for War Organisation and Industry. He was Foundation President of the Rayon Weavers Association of Australia from 1932 to 1955, and Chairman of the Rayon Weavers section of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures from 1948. A supporter of tariff protection, he was a strong force in the establishment of the Australian Industries Protection League and co-founded its successor, the Australian Industries Development Association, of which he was President from its inception in 1951 until 1956. In 1968 he sold Prestige to Dunlop Australia Ltd for $15 million; Dunlop discontinued the Prestige brand in the late 1970s. Foletta retired in 1970 and worked up until his death on his family history, Woven Threads, which was privately printed in 1975.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Estate of Alice Myra Foletta 2006
Accession number: 2006.78