The History Of Stone Island
Being an Englishman in the streetwear scene, you notice that there’s a bit of a one-method cultural conversation going on. Everyone knows American street culture. Pretty much the complete world wears Jordans and Supreme, listens to Kanye West and drops American slang. Streetwear was born within the USA, so the scenario is inevitable, really.
Lately, although, British cultural exports have been gaining traction over within the States. Drake and Skepta are best mates now, Palace Skateboards is approaching Supreme levels of hype and a few of my New York counterparts have even began saying “ting” on Instagram.
The newest growth in streetwear’s romance with British culture is Stone Island, a label that’s rapidly choosing up steam over in the States. It could also be Italian in origin, but the brand, and its unmistakeable compass emblem, has been an inescapable part of UK street style for decades.
Stone Island – or “Stoney” as it’s affectionately recognized – lately opened an LA flagship, and is within the third 12 months of what’s proving to be a particularly standard Supreme collaboration. It doesn’t damage that rappers like Drake and Travis Scott are giving the brand’s iconic arm patch a ton of exposure to people who would normally never see it.
The rap scene has taken to the label in such a way that A$AP Nast and Travis Scott even had a little bit of online beef over it. Seeing American rappers argue over who found Stoney first is a cultural mindfuck of hilarious proportions – kind of like the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales beefing over Biggie and Tupac.
Given the momentum that Stone Island is building throughout the Atlantic, we thought we’d take the chance to teach our American readers on the brand’s wealthy background, and its importance in UK type.
“Stone Island is steeped in historical past, tradition and good design,” Ollie Evans of Too Scorching Restricted informed me. Ollie is a London-primarily based reseller of archive Stone Island gear, and has been dealing vintage items from the brand for years. He first encountered Stoney means back in 1999, when the Birmingham City Zulu firm (a firm being a crew of hardcore soccer followers) was carrying it to raves in Birmingham.
“Stone Island has had a cult following in Europe because the very beginning,” Ollie defined. “It was first adopted by the Paninaro youth in Italy in the ’80s – their fashion was very much inspired by ’50s Americana, however combined with sporty Italian designer labels. It was around this interval that British soccer fans, following their groups to European Cup games, began bringing back some of these identical labels to put on on terraces in the UK, appropriating the Paninaro look and constructing their own subculture around it.”
It’s unimaginable to speak about Stone Island without mentioning terrace casuals, a subculture of diehard football supporters with a taste for flashy designer labels that emerged in the UK within the ’80s. Somewhat than sporting their team’s colors like earlier generations of hooligans, casuals selected to avoid attention from the police and rival firms by flaunting flashy designer labels as a substitute.
“These brands had been initially very laborious to source and solely out there in Europe, so a culture of 1-upmanship emerged with guys trying to outdo one another with rarer, dearer and more revolutionary pieces. Stone Island fitted completely into this, with their boundary-pushing designs. The brand is an integral a part of what is called informal culture.”
Stone Island suited the informal movement’s tastes completely – it’s costly, visually putting and the brand’s arm patch allows fans to establish each other without drawing unwanted attention. Stoney’s id is, whether or not the model likes it or not, inextricably tied to hooliganism, and you’ll find that compass patch on terraces and soccer grounds in all places from Middlesborough to Moscow.
Nowadays, though, the brand has grown past just casuals and may be present in tough, internal-city neighborhoods throughout the country – notably in London – and to many, the brand’s iconic arm patch is a uncooked expression of butch masculinity. The grime scene has taken to it in a big means – which is probably how Drake discovered the model, given his newfound fondness for the genre and his shut hyperlinks with Skepta and Boy Better Know.
Whereas the label will likely be perpetually associated (to an extent) with robust-guy hooligans and streetwise hood rats, why do football hooligans wear stone island at the top of the day Stone Island is about boundary-pushing know-how and modern fabrics. “It’s nearly a cliche to talk about innovation in relation to Stone Island,” Ollie explained. “They are – and all the time have been – constantly pushing the boundaries of garment technology, creating product that’s fresh and that no one else would even think of. Stone Island have been producing reflective and heat-reactive garments because the ’80s, manner earlier than anybody else.”
It’s easy to see how Stone Island’s high-tech, navy-impressed design language resonates with the extra macho, masculine finish of the menswear market. “It’s a real boy’s brand.” Ollie added. “It’s like, Wow, this jacket adjustments coloration! This one’s reflective! This one’s made from stainless steel! It’s an actual tradition of one-upmanship and making an attempt to look better than your mates.”
Stone Island owes its striking aesthetic and dedication to innovation to its designer Massimo Osti, who founded the model in 1982, to run alongside his different brands CP Firm and Boneville. Osti left Stone Island in 1995 to found Massimo Osti Productions and Left Hand, before passing away in 2005.
“Massimo Osti set the blueprint for Stone Island and his legacy nonetheless informs where it’s as we speak. He’s the man who introduced us reflective jackets, color-altering heat-reactive jackets, polyurethane-lined weather protective jackets, reversible jackets, twin-layer jackets with removable linings. These are all concepts that are now commonplace, and i assure that each major fashion home on the planet has some of his work in their archive somewhere.”
Actually, Supreme’s ongoing collaboration with Stoney options many homages to Osti’s work. “I’m a huge fan of Osti’s ’80s and early ’90s designs, so it’s fantastic to see that work referenced once more in the Supreme collaborations,” Ollie continued. “The marina-type stripes, the heat-reactive jackets, the Tela Stella anorak (centerpiece of Supreme x Stone Island SS15) and the helicopter jacket with the goggles from their first collab are all Osti’s.”
It’s a really fascinating time for both Stone Island and Supreme. The two brands have come a great distance from their roots, and find themselves treading unfamiliar floor. Stone Island is approaching a transatlantic audience that has very little knowledge of the brand’s history, innovation and cultural significance – just some co-signs from rappers and a collaboration with probably the most hyped streetwear brand on the planet.
Supreme, in distinction, is attracting an increasingly youthful viewers that has much much less understanding of the brand’s history and irreverent, counter-cultural tendencies. Both Supreme and Stone Island face the same challenge: easy methods to develop into new areas and entice a bigger audience, whereas keeping their respective credibilities and histories intact.
Ollie’s project, Too Sizzling Limited, stocks archival gems from Stone Island alongside pieces from different terrace casual favorites, like Polo Ralph Lauren, C.P. Firm (Massimo Osti’s first label), Prada Sport (the Italian luxury house’s temporary foray into sportswear), Iceberg and Burberry. Too Scorching also provides a glimpse back in time via its in-home editorials, which function wistful tributes to the flashy, designer label gear that was all the craze in the UK in the ’90s and ’00s.