Where does Stone Island come from ?
1982, Ravirano near Modena in Italy, sportswear is about to undergo a revolution thanks to a Bolognese artist and intellectual: Massimo Osti. But do you know where does Stone Island come from? A look back at the genesis of the brand at the rose of the winds, between functionality, research and development. over the years, Stone Island has established itself as a reference in terms of top-of-the-range sportswear and casual.
A History and a strong brand identity
A canvas as a first start
Everything started in the 80s, Massimo Osti worked as a stylist and director for a textile company : CP Company. This structure was known for its technological innovations in sportswear and men's fashion sector. From this search for innovation, a fabric was born within the company in 1982: Tella Stella.
This canvas, discovered in the 80s and initially used to make truck tarpaulins, had a different color on each side. The result was unique and original but had difficulties integrating into the activity offered by CP Company.
That's when Massimo Osti will have an idea, why not use this famous canvas for sportswear fashion. He will therefore use this invention to create 7 unique jackets. He will transform this very robust fabric by washing it and rewashing about ten times with pumice stones, in order to be usable. The result, a piece with an aged look and undeniable charm, what more could you ask for? The first collection to appeared in 1983, was inspired by the military style and therefore consisted of seven jackets in this original canvas.
But Stone Island is not only a technology, it is also a b name.
Stone Island, a name and a logo that originated in literature
A b identity requires an equally b name, and it finds it in the novels of Joseph Conrad (Ukrainian orphan, British navy captain and writer).
STONE ISLAND, the words most used by the author. All that remained was to find an emblematic logo: the Wind Rose, displayed as a military badge on the sleeve and symbolizing love of the sea and constant research.
Stone island: a DNA and charismatic Men
Research and innovation as a motto
Within its LAB (the brand's research and development centre), beats Stone Island’s heart, its uninterrupted, in-depth and limitless research into the transformation and improvement of textile fibres.
Always further on, the brand wants to be innovative and shows it to us through its crazy creations; new materials, new production techniques, new dyeing methods or diversions, such as using truck tarpaulins to make a jacket. This desire to invent and innovate has been part of the brand's DNA since its inception.
Thus many projects have appeared in the eyes of the world:
"jackets made from a single nylon filament from water filtration technologies, highly reflective or heat-sensitive fabrics, ultra-lightweight nylon fabrics, coated nylon fabrics used in aviation to protect on-board computers, non-woven fabrics, Kevlar® and polyester felts, are just a few examples of what the Stone Island philosophy has produced."- source: stoneisland.com
But this quest for research and development would never have been possible in the long term without this charismatic man: Carlo Rivetti.
A man as a pillar of the firm's domination
Far from the image of the mad scientist, innovative to innovate, Stone's research has only one objective, quality and practicality. The brand's philosophy is to offer clothes that are more comfortable and functional for men on a daily basis. This desire for innovation is partly due to Carlo Rivetti, the company's current CEO.
In 1983 Carlo R joined and took over the management of the company. This entrepreneur in the trade and production of Italian textiles will buy 50% of the company's capital. A few years later in the 1990s, he bought the entire company with a view to maintain and strength the brand's image. Carlo quickly grasped the brand's positioning and potential. Stone Island does not only reside in the marketing of clothing but also refers to deep convictions in casual fashion. It will be based on Massimo's vision of fashion, from technical clothing to casual clothing that men wear on a daily basis to perpetuate the brand's DNA.
A collaboration and a crashing entry into fashion
In the mid-90s, Massimo officially left the label at the famous patch. Carlo Rivetti then found himself with the difficult task of finding a new stylist and artistic director for Stone Island.
In 1994, he met Paul Harvey, a British designer who lived in Sant'Arcangelo di Romagna, Italy, at a trade fair in Munich. At their first meeting, Mr. Rivetti will say this:
"I was struck by a strange feeling of familiarity and I exclaimed: This is the Stone of the 21st century! “
It is with Paul Harvey, creator, designer, stylist on behalf of pop singer, and his functional approach to design, that Stone makes a masterful entry into the 21st century. Trendy collections, practical pieces and an aesthetic that reflects the manufacturing processes, this is what the "British" has brought to the brand. After 24 collections designed for the famous Italian brand, 12 years of good and loyal services, in 2008 Paul Harvey decided to end his career as a designer in order to work for the planet.
Une rupture provoquant un tournant majeur de la compagnie
It was at this moment that Carlo Rivetti, CEO of the brand, decided to take an unexpected turn, registering Stone Island as a contemporary company:
"Times had changed. To become truly contemporary, the company had to be multicultural. I've assembled a creative team. I had the feeling that to see the world in all its aspects, the times required different visions and minds, and that is what defines Stone Island's philosophy to this day. I feel like I'm playing the role of the coach. I choose who to send out on the field depending on the match to be played. "- Carlo Rivetti
Carlo Rivetti was able to restructure the company at the right time by surrounding himself with qualified and competent employees, enabling the brand to develop at an accelerated pace. Today this Italian empire created by Mr. Osti represents a turnover of hundreds of millions of euros with 200 million euros in sales in 2018.
But what really makes the strength of this casual fashion giant is its community of fans. For a time relayed to Hooligan's brand, Stone Island was able to break away from this fan base to conquer the men's locker room and the RAP world.
A community that makes the brand's reputation and strength
The English Hooligans as a symbol of the Stone Island community
The Italian brand has received renewed attention in recent years, from being confined to the look of the English hooligan, to expose itself on the edge of NBA floors and in the upper echelons of society.
Stone's story is closely linked to that of European football. Since 1982 the brand has been the official sponsor of the Italian team, and a little later that of the English Hooligans after they discovered it at the 1984 European Championships. It was during the trips against the Italian clubs that the hooligans got to know the Italian label. They looted luxury stores and grabbed the famous pieces with the patch of the compass rose, the ultimate trophy to bring back to the country of tea.
Stone Island is well represented in the film Green Street Hooligans, a film inspired by The Football Factory, the reference of this culture, in which we follow the GSE (Green Street Elite) a group of hooligans fan of the West Ham United club. The Trench Coat and Zip Jacket of Stone Island followed them into the stands and into their fights.
The influence of rap as an actor of diversity and influence
The one who really mainstreamed Stone Island is none other than Drake himself, wearing the brand many times, from the down jacket to the Tee and even having a Stone Island ice chain bling bling made, a necklace estimated at $100K as revealed by Highsnobiety in an article.
Vince Staples, Travis Scott or A$AP Nast, who claimed to be the first rappers from the East Coast of the United States to wear Stone Island, also contributed to the brand's growth in the eyes of the general public.
We can see rap clips appearing placing "the compass rose" at the center of all eyes. The Vince Staples Big Fish video perfectly illustrates this.
It is this commercial success that allows Stone Island to be a very high-end sportswear brand today. Present all over the world, the brand even offered itself a 500m² boutique in Los Angeles, on North La Brea Avenue, the largest of the label.
Stone Island, more than a brand a cultural phenomenon
The Massimo Osti brand is a succession of men and ideas that came at the right time. Sulphurous ambassadors and artists at the top. It is a state of mind, a vision of fashion, an approach to design. A mad scientist making clothes with truck tarpaulins, a visionary understanding the trends and challenges of the fashion world, a designer and his vision of "practical" fashion and today an army from all over the world composed of designers, researchers and dyers.
About Stone Island, find more articles here:
- The keys of the success of the Stone Island brand
- How do you fit Stone Island ?
By Téo MESTRE and Simon BAUMER-POULAIN