If you’re on the forecourt of any football stadium, donned in Stone Island gear, you’re sure to find that those police on horseback are keeping a keener eye on you than that replica-shirted, half-and-half scarfer lolloping in front of you. The connotations of casual fashion with football violence dates back to the 1970s, yet it wasn’t until the early 80s when Stone Island made its mark.
Ironically, legendary managers Bob Paisley and pre-knighthood Alex Ferguson played a big part in its breakthrough through European success with Liverpool and Aberdeen respectively. Away days on the continent led to an explosion of new and exciting labels, most never heard of before on British soil.
For Aberdeen lads, the obsession dates back to a European cup match with Liverpool in October 1980. Former member of the Aberdeen Soccer Casuals, Dan Rivers, says:
“On that day, a section of the away support were seen dressed in ‘trendy’ sportswear – designer tracksuits and top-of-the-range trainers – rather than the traditional club supporter’s uniform, which was normal clothes adorned with the team’s colours of red and white. We were inspired.”
The ASC followed the Liverpool lead by discovering a wealth of new gear, most of which was nicked and brought back home to the surprise and envy of their mates. Lacoste were the early pace-setters as a foreign brand in the UK, making a name for itself as the first clothing range to have a label on the outside of their clothes.
Stone Island soon followed, derived from away trips to Italy, sporting innovative and forward-thinking garments by Massimo Osti who also launched CP Company. Yet despite being a high-quality piece of clothing, ‘Stoney’ gear has connotations that will never be shaken off – forever renowned as the casual staple – and the brand have tried to move away from that stigma in recent years.
“Mainstream football fans resent their violence, sociology lecturers can’t think of anything interesting to say about them and even the companies whose labels they sport, such as Stone Island, just wish they would go away,” says Stuart Cosgrove – television executive, broadcaster and devoted football fan. “Unlike the punks and the mods, they have nobody theorising on their behalf. Academia should learn to love casuals.”