Though its following isn’t as widespread or extreme as Supreme’s, the Italian brand has actually been around much longer than its latest streetwear collaborator. Founded in the early 0s within the province of Modena, Stone Island was originally intended as a diffuse line of C.P. Company. It was the brainchild of Massimo Osti, an intellectual and art director who had a deep interest in uniforms and their utilitarian components.
Throughout the 1970s, Osti conducted extensive research on workwear garments—studying everything from construction to materials to silhouettes. When he launched the brand in 1982, the company became somewhat of a research center that focused on unique dyeing methods and fabric treatments. At the start stages, Osti and his team were experimenting with thick truck tarpaulin material, which was treated with resin; however the fabric was deemed too stiff for comfort, so it was washed for an extended period of time with pumice stones—resulting in a weathered look often associated with authentic workwear.
The durability and aesthetic appeal was so convincing that the team decided to make seven designs with this fabric, dubbed Tela Stella (shown above). After seeing the potential of their creation, they then needed to come up with a brand name. It had to be classic and, above all, strong; so they looked to Joseph Conrad novels and discovered two commonly used words: stone and island. The name perfectly reflected the brand’s aesthetic, as the team initially used sea elements for its treatments. The signature compass badge, which has been sewn onto sleeves since Stone Island’s first collection, also nods to the maritime name because it evokes the detailing of a naval military uniform.
The look was right and the functionality was on point. Over three decades later, the brand hasn’t abandoned its commitment to durability, innovation, and incredible-looking threads.