WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Stone Island began as the brainchild of one man, Massimo Osti, who many consider the ‘godfather of urban streetwear’. Not content with revolutionizing the world of clothing twice – firstly by pioneering the use of graphic printing techniques such as CMYK and silkscreen prints on t-shirts, and secondly by inventing a process of garment dyeing, where whole garments are dyed rather than using pre-dyed fabrics – Osti would once again change the world of sportswear by discovering ‘Tella Stella’ in 1982, a tarpaulin like fabric used by the military to cover trucks.
His existing brand CP Company combined the vintage military, work and sportswear silhouettes with cutting edge Italian fabric innovations, yet this new cloth didn’t quite fit in with the aesthetic, so he decided to create a new brand. The name was taken from the two most recurring words in the novels of Joseph Conrad – Stone and Island – meanwhile its logo, the ‘Wind Rose’, is a four-point compass which references both the brand’s love for all things nautical and the constant need to be moving in the direction of innovative research. The first Stone Island collection consisted of just seven jackets, all made from the ‘Tella Stella’ fabric which had been impregnated with different color resins in contrasting colors on each side. The material was so rigid and hard, it had to be pumice and enzyme washed for hours to be soft enough to be worn, and Osti liked the faded look too. This approach of repurposing innovative fabrics in novel new contexts as garments with special dyes and treatments would become a hallmark of the Stone Island design ethos.
Stone Island’s history can be divided into three different eras. The Massimo era was defined by a military and workwear focus combined with seemingly endless research into textiles. Osti left the company in 1995 to be replaced by British designer Paul Harvey, ushering in a new era of functionality-focused design for the brand. In 2008, Harvey’s departure would lead Carlo Rivetti – the owner of the brand through parent company ‘Sportswear Company’ and current creative director – to deem that the time for a ‘one man at the helm’ was over. Now, Stone Island is designed by a multicultural design team who specialize in each category.
Where is Stone Island made?
Stone Island continues to be made in Italy with its headquarters and research laboratories based in Ravarino, Modena. It’s here where the three departments key to the brand’s essence are housed:
1) Material Research
This is where the brand tests how different fabrics react to different dyeing techniques. There’s a saying within the brand that there’s no flexible material that the company hasn’t tried to dye.
2) Historical Archive
Composed of over 40,000 different garments, this comprehensive collection consists of every single Stone Island piece ever made, allowing the design team to delve back into the brand’s history for inspiration and references.
3) Color Laboratory
This lab is where a culmination of 30 years of experience, knowledge and human effort allows the brand to experiment with creating new colors, leading to the creation of over 60,000 dye recipes since its inception.
What is Stone Island Shadow Project?
Founded in 2008, Shadow Project is a collaboration between Carlo Rivetti and the design duo behind cult techwear label Acronym – Michaela Sachenbacher and Errolson Hugh.
The collaborative sub-brand, or as Rivetti calls its Stone Island’s ‘formula 1 team’, is a unit even more dedicated to innovation than it’s parent label, engineering high-tech garments designed for modern, urban lifestyles from the most cutting-edge technical fabrics.
JACKETS & TOPS
Stone Island Jackets
‘Tella Stella’ would be just one innovation in a line of many for Stone Island’s outerwear. In 2019, Palace skateboards released a heat-sensitive jacket, yet Stone Island’s Ice Jacket released in 1988 introduced the world to thermo-sensitive liquid crystal coatings some 30 years earlier. Nowadays, it’s common to see every commuter cyclist wearing ultra-reflective jackets, but again it was Stone Island that would be first to use a thin layer of glass microspheres to create the reflective jacket in 1991.
Waterproof polyurethane coatings. Reversible jackets. Dual-layers with removable linings. Taped seams. All these functional design elements that seem commonplace amongst modern outdoor wear or technical clothing were pioneered by Stone Island. While modern-day Stone Island is more focused on colors and fabric treatments, when you purchase a Stone Island jacket you can be sure you’re buying into a lineage of the most innovative and high-tech outerwear ever seen.
This season, the focus is on durable Cordura cotton blends in striking ‘Desert Camo’, shimmering and reflective nylon metals, and monochromatic and multi-layered ‘Ghost’ pieces.
How Warm Are Stone Island Jackets?
Although it’s probably harder to find a Stone Island jacket without some form of weatherproofing, internal resin finishes and external anti-drop coatings only offer protection from wind and water without keeping in heat.
If keeping warm is a key priority, look for Stone Island pieces that feature down insulation, or with multiple layers (typically denoted by 3L, 5L, etc) where the jacket usually consists of a Primaloft or injected down insulating layer sandwiched between water and wind-resistant membranes.
Stone Island Sweatshirts, Hoodies & Knitwear
Warm, soft and colorful, it’s easy to see why the brand's selection of long sleeve mid-layers are a popular entry-point into the world of Stone Island.
Stone Island’s knitwear offerings are emblematic of the brand’s innovation. Tightly knit, twisted or thick yarned, Stone Island’s knitwear see intricate jacquard techniques used to weave intricate patterns, melange and two-tone colorways onto a variety of sweatshirts and zip-ups. This season, the brand focuses on hand-sprayed treatments which see color treatment manually sprayed onto the exterior of a selection of thin ribbed cotton blend crewnecks.
Constructed from a super-soft yet heavyweight fleeceback jersey cotton, Stone Island’s fleecewear collection are some of the most luxurious on offer. Each hoodie, crewneck and zip-up is garment dyed to perfection in a variety of muted or bold colorways with or without graphic prints.
Stone Island Overshirts
Not quite a jacket yet more substantial than a shirt, Stone Island’s selection of overshirts are the perfect layering piece in cooler months or are ideal worn as lightweight outerwear in the summer.
Designed for warmer weather, there’s less of a focus on functionality allowing for aesthetics to be front and center. Shimmering iridescent nylons that change color under varying light conditions sit next to crinkled cotton hemp blends and breathable cotton-nylon poplins and crepes.
The highlight of the overshirt collection is undoubtedly the ‘Old’ effect where cotton canvas has been dyed and faded to give a slightly worn and three-dimensional appearance.
Stone Island Polo and T-Shirts
The brand’s selection of polo shirts and t-shirts combine well cut silhouettes with premium pique and cotton jersey construction and lush garment-dyed colorways. Nothing more, nothing less. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Available in a variety of configurations ranging from graphic tees with rubberized prints, zipped-pocket and patch pocket tees, alongside classic polo collar shapes, there’s something for everyone.
From heavily branded to more subtle, there’s stitched branding, cotton patches and printed logos depending on your level of showiness.
Stone Island Bottoms
If Stone Island’s outerwear is characterized by technical designs and colorful treatments, then Stone Island bottoms are defined by hard-wearing fabrics and lots of pockets.
The cargo pant silhouette is a firm favorite for the brand, coming in lightweight and breathable cotton-polyester twills and linen canvases alongside more stretchy cotton wool satins and twills for those who prefer less restrictive fabrics. Even their cotton fleece sweatpants come with a cargo pocket. Alternatively, they’ve crafted an elasticated cuff track pant using their signature shimmering color shifting nylon metal fabric.
Finally, the collection is finished with workwear inspired 5-pocket denim silhouettes constructed from cotton hemp canvas that has been impregnated with resins for a unique color and finish.
Sizing & Fit
While pre-2000 Stone Island is known for running notoriously big, its modern counterpart is typically fitted with a slim to tight cut.
This, combined with the fact that Stone Island is made in Italy so therefore follows European sizing, means you’ll probably have to go up one size if you’d prefer a more oversized fit.
What’s more confusing is that sizes and fit seem to change between categories, meaning if you already own one piece from Stone Island then that may not be a good indicator of your size in another piece.
Stone Island Size Guide:
- For the most accurate sizing, we recommend you take your own measurements to compare with the below sizing charts.
- Stone Island hoodie sizing fits true-to-size
- Stone Island sweaters, knitwear and other tops sizing fits one size smaller.
- Stone Island jacket sizing generally fits true-to-size, especially parkas, but please consider how many layers you’ll be wearing underneath.
- Stone Island pant sizing fits true-to-size but may be too long in length.