While a host of fashion’s biggest names have tried to cash in on the subculture of skateboarding, Palm Angels is one of the few that actually has authentic ties to skate culture. Italian founder Francesco Ragazzi has spent half his life in Los Angeles, getting to know the West Coast skate scene: in 2014 — a year prior to the launch of his own brand — he released a Rizzoli book called ‘Palm Angels’, which was a love letter to the sport of skateboarding.
As the art director at legendary French outerwear brand Moncler, Ragazzi was working with hip-hop artists before fashion’s wider embrace of the culture. While in the last decade we’ve seen Kanye partner with Nike and adidas, A$AP Rocky releasing a song dedicated to Raf Simons, and artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Young Thug experiment with genderless fashion, this was not always the case, and it was Ragazzi who led this change. Years before Chanel would strike up a relationship with Pharrell Williams, the noughties’ biggest producer, Ragazzi tapped him up for a Moncler collaboration.
Now, Ragazzi has returned to his roots and teamed up with Moncler for another collaborative collection: 8 Moncler Palm Angels, which pays homage to Americana and vintage style — reinforcing ideas of Los Angeles skate culture as reinterpreted through an Italian lens.The result is a range of elevated streetwear, seen on this page: skate-inspired apparel imbued with Italian tailoring and fine fabrics, and finished with Moncler’s technical outerwear. We got the lowdown on the brand’s beginnings and the new collection from the man himself.
Palm Angels founder Francesco Ragazzi
How has the Palm Angels brand grown and developed since its inception?
I started working with Moncler as an intern in 2008. I owe so much to the company as it allowed me to grow both personally and professionally and build my own vision for Palm Angels. In defining the identity of the brand: the idea of the genetic mix — a relentless and ever extensive shifting of codes — permeates the Palm Angels mindset, through the straightforward materiality of urban-attuned clothing.
Palm Angels is your way of importing American culture back to Milan. What elements of American culture did you want to capture?
As I always say, Palm Angels is an Italian reinterpretation of American culture. My collections are a hybrid of Italian and American sensibility typified by urban silhouettes, Californian iconography and expert Italian tailoring. This mix basically forms the DNA of my brand.
This isn’t the first time Palm Angels and Moncler have collaborated. What was exciting about bringing both brands together again?
I’ve been working with Moncler for a long time. It’s a strong relationship — not just a collaboration. I always like to think about the core of the brand I am collaborating with, and give it a twist that makes it Palm Angels.
What were your inspirations for the new collection?
With 8 Moncler Palm Angels, I want to replicate the feeling of entering a vintage store and finding different inspirations. It’s a mix of themes and worlds. People will discover the pieces and themes within the collection, just like I do when I browse vintage archives. I love discovering the past and bringing these feelings into the present.
Tell us about the design process. What are the key pieces within the collection?
[To design the collection], I approached a line-up of archetypes, eschewing pre-set seasonal codes. The puffer jacket — with or without sleeves — is the focus, closely followed by the Hawaiian shirt, the cardigan, the jumper, the tracksuit, the sweatshirt and the snow boot. In rethinking such staples, I turned things upside down. We have refashioned the signature Moncler logo, replacing the cockerel emblem with an elegant palm, mirroring the collaboration name.
Palm Angels is a reflection of your personal style – how do you strike the perfect balance in your collections?
I don’t believe in rules or boundaries when creating. I have always been of the opinion that strong frictions and mixtures spark bold outcomes.
What’s next for the Palm Angels brand and for you personally?
My goal is to launch lifestyle projects, create experiences that connect the brand and the audience in an emotional way. It’s like a choir in a sense, there is not a single voice, but many that compose the narration. We exist thanks to artisans and small companies who represent the concept of craftsmanship and ‘Made in Italy’ [artistry], all over the world. I'll continue supporting and reinforcing our supply chain. I like the idea of creating a book every season too, especially during all this digital madness [that’s come about as a result of] the pandemic.
How to style Palm Angels with Alexis Badiyi (@alexisbadiyi)
Stylist and Creative from New York
How would you describe the way you dress?
Classic, menswear-inspired with a twist, minimal with pops of unique pieces and vintage.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I love speaking about great finds and favorites in clothing, beauty, homeware and food. As a stylist and creative, I feel I am always shopping. Some of my favorite pieces right now include Issey Miyake’s textured cropped top, Margiela high waisted trousers, Khaite’s OSA medium leather tote and Bottega Veneta sling back sandals.
Who do you look to on Instagram for style inspiration day to day?
I get a lot of my style inspiration from films of the 70s-90s. I also love old photographs of artists, actors and archival runways.
How do Palm Angels and Missoni resonate with your style?
I have treasured memories of my family sharing their vintage Missoni pieces with my sister and I from a young age — it’s a truly timeless brand I have long admired. I first learned about Palm Angels about five years ago through a client of mine who absolutely adored the brand.
Talk us through your favorite pieces from the new collection.
I find myself drawn towards the textures and color combinations in this collection. My favorite piece is the dress I’m wearing, it is so comfortable and beautiful and the print is memorable. The bodysuits are also fantastic; I’d wear them styled with denim or classic oversized trousers.