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At Stone Island, 38 years worth of exploration and experimentation in technical outerwear has resulted in a possibility-pushing archive of the most advanced garments imaginable. Forever blurring the lines between industrial design, textile technology, science and fashion, the Ravarino-based innovators have given us everything from reflective jackets to colour changing coats and nylon metals to techno mesh. If an idea can be daydreamed, Stone Island has continually found a way to make it a reality.
Founded by Massimo Osti in 1982, Stone Island evolved out of a desire to push products into more experimental realms. Its beginnings were almost by chance. When a batch of discarded truck tarpaulin ended up in the Bologna-born garment engineer’s hands, Osti saw an opportunity when most would only see rubbish. Washing and re-washing the tarps resulted in a unique stone washed patina that inspired a new range and brand. The legendary Tela Stella fabric was born and with it Stone Island. Just one year later, Osti met Carlo Rivettii, now CEO, and a shapeshifting collaboration spanning decades ensued. “Massimo was at least ten years ahead of others in his field,” Rivetti explains in his personal-essay-turned-brand-biography, MY HISTORY, MY COMPANY. While Osti saw himself as a producer rather than a fashion designer, drawing inspiration from military, workwear and endless textile research, Rivetti sees Stone Island through the lens of industrial design as opposed to fashion design. These days, far from being helmed by a single visionary like Osti or later designer Central Saint Martins-graduate Paul Harvey, Rivetti has assembled a team that continues to turn daydreams into reality. “I like to think there’s a common thread that binds us all,” Rivetti explains. “A desire for continual experimentation and research, not without a touch of healthy insanity: that special something that makes our Stone Island much more than just a clothing brand.”
As ever, Rivetti is right. More than a brand, Stone Island is a garment laboratory focussed on form and function, which has subsequently cultivated a community that unites Milanese paninari and the British football casuals, hip hop’s finest and hypebeasts alike. Ultimately, Stone Island is an ongoing investigation without frontiers, that continually leads to the discovery of innovative materials and industry-changing techniques. One such innovation is celebrated for ARCHIVE O3; the highly prized 40534 Polypropylene Tela from autumn/winter 15. As LN-CC and Stone Island join forces to bring back this down-filled icon, we invited London-based Stone Island obsessive and collector Archie of Arco Maher to try it on for size.
Archie, can you remember what first sparked your interest in Stone Island?
It was the military and workwear references I saw in the pieces. I used to buy vintage army and worker jackets in my mid-teens so I soon clocked the similar characteristics in some of Stone Island’s most desirable models, like mid 90s Formula Steel jackets. Multiple pockets and durability are always winners for me!
Are we right in saying your obsession started at the end of 2011?
Yes! I grabbed my first piece aged 16-ish! It was a pretty slick vintage find which I didn’t really appreciate at the time. This was long before my advanced Stone Island knowledge kicked in.
What can you remember about that slick vintage find?
It was a 1988 striped Marina T-shirt with the stamped stencil logo across the chest and a lively speckled wash throughout. A year or two later I bought a late 90s Micro Light Puffa Jacket and then the jacket infatuation began.
How did this infatuation develop into Arco Maher, the business of reselling and rental?
When I started buying pieces that weren’t my size, purely for the fascination of design and materials used. I just knew it was something I had to pursue and find a way to make it profitable. I studied Art History at university but constantly missed deadlines due to hours spent in the library learning all things Massimo Osti and Carlo Rivetti, sportswear design and generally embracing my love for Italian culture! I began to frequently buy and sell pieces and then steadily built up the “Arco Maher Archive”. As the archive grew, musicians and designers alike became interested, so the opportunity soon arose to rent pieces for editorials, shows and general research. The archive now spans a healthy 300-350 pieces and it’s ever growing.
What would you say is the strongest truth about Stone Island?
Quality and functionality. Osti’s obsession with function and small details in his work snowballed into a brand where this concept was at the forefront of his design. Whether that is a wool balaclava addition to a winter jacket or a slim pen pocket to the leg of a cargo pant, you can always be sure there is some hidden detail or unique design to the product. The quality of Stone Island pieces is always heavily praised, generally built with a tough and long-lasting structure.
What can you tell us about the Polypropylene Tela Down Filled Parka from Fall 2015?
It embodies everything you’d seek in a winter jacket and has a long list of impressive qualities! The jacket is down filled and the longer parka model is ideal for increased warmth. The polypropylene material has antibacterial properties and is coated in a skilful anti-drop agent. It’s a very light fibre product but maintains a bulky and heavier feel. There’s a multitude of zips and hidden pockets throughout too. The black fleece fingerless gloves at the cuffs and balaclava inside the hood, which are both detachable are the most notable and unique details on the jacket.
How familiar were you to this iconic, quickly sold out piece?
I remember this jacket being released back in 2015 but sadly wasn’t quick off the mark and it ended selling out pretty speedily. I hadn’t seen this jacket for real until we shot the editorial but I’m now eager to add it to the archive. I was taken aback by its sturdy shell and insane warmth. Definitely one not to be missed!
Photography Raphael Bliss @raphaelbliss
Model Arco Maher @arco_maher