Brand Focus - Stone Island
November 2 2015
Just as the word legend gets thrown about far too easily when referencing sportsmen or public figures the word iconic is too easily levelled towards clothing brands not truly befitting of the word.
This is not the case of Italian label Stone Island. For anyone with a love of forward thinking men’s fashion or casual culture will instantly recognise the distinctive compass badge, buttoned onto the sleeve. A sleeve which more often than not has been crafted from innovative and highly functional material.
You feel that it is a label which has almost come full circle, starting out as somewhat of an unknown enigma of the menswear world, a bete noir. A weirdo. To being associated far too closely to a certain type of football supporter in the late 90s and early 00s and suffering from lazy stereotypes. To the present day. where it is recognised for what it is; a truly unique and trailblazing label that continues to push the boundaries of innovative fashion design whilst retaining its cult status, individuality and almost renegade attitude amongst the fashion elite.
The Stone Island story began in Italy in 1982 when another iconic terrace brand, CP Company, acquired an industrial fabric that took on two different colours when dipped in dye. Massimo Osti the now legendary designer and creator of CP Company decided that this new material, unsuitable for the relatively conservative CP, warranted an entirely new label. Named after a book he was reading, they called it Stone Island Marina.
Osti was a design obsessive with a particular penchant for military and industrial wear. The iconic compass badge was born immediately. A pastiche of his love for both military and nautical design.
Osti is no longer with us, dying in 2005, but his legacy lives on with Stone Island having produced over 40,000 different garments since its birth. “From the beginning Stone Island has been a label centred on fabric and construction research,” says Carlo Rivetti, who’s headed the company since 1982. “We’re always investigating how far we can go in ‘inventing’ and transforming materials, exploring functions for the wearer derived from work gear and uniforms.”
Early Stone Island collections were utterly disruptive to the fashion world; and the likes of which had never been seen before. They included the Ice jacket (1991) made from a revolutionary material that changed colour with temperature variations due to its special chemical composition whilst still being highly water and windproof.
The label first hit the UK when Brown’s in London’s South Molton St became the only stockist in the late 80s. It was soon adopted by the football going casuals as they searched for something more and more distinctive from the original european labels such as Sergio Tacchini and Lacoste. Its distinctiveness and difficulty to acquire only made the allure greater for the casual movement. But that wasn’t the only appeal. Practically, the garments were perfect for the terraces. Massimo Osti’s love of functional, innovative and military inspired design was ideal for the endurance of horrendous weather on the terraces and long uncomfortable away trips.
As a result its popularity exploded during the 90s and not necessarily in its favour, with horrific counterfeits being trotted out and two bit so called hooligan firms adopting the famous sleeve button badge. It is an association that the brand didn’t look to court, with Gino Da’Prata, UK representative for the brand once saying… “You saw the compass first because it was on the outside of our jackets, but underneath those fans would have been wearing Prada Sport and Armani too. We never targeted that consumer, we’ve always been exclusive and have been sold in a few selected shops, but you can’t stop people buying it.”
It is an association that perhaps hasn’t gone away completely but true to Osti’s legacy the brand has never stopped innovating and this has helped reinstate its exclusivity and status as not some uniform for wanna hooligan snaptwats or keyboard warriors but a truly iconic brand worn by those with a eye for style, individuality and more than anything else a love of beautifully crafted, functional fashion.
Giancarlo Ricci is proud to be a stockist of such an iconic brand and we have some wonderful pieces on site at the moment. Here are my 3 favourites…
The Light Down Coat in Ink
There is something just so italian about a dark navy bubble jacket and I love this lightweight down filled casual coat. It justs like a classic Stone Island piece - perfect for the terraces but beautifully suave and sophisticated in its look.
Logo Trim Turnback Beenie in Ink
Stone Island’s accessories are underrated in my opinion and I really like the look of this turnback beenie (available in Ink, Black and Cream.) Perfect for winter and a real tribute the nautical style so loved by Massimo Osti.
Compass Badge Zipper Pocket Crew - Grey Marl
Something I love about some of Stone Island’s pieces is their simplicity, particular when it comes to the more casual wear like sweats and crew necks. This grey marl crew with zip pocket detail is both beautiful in it’s simplicity and casual look but whilst retaining that unique Stone Island style and substance.