WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Whilst a host of fashion’s biggest names have tried to cash in on the king of subcultures - skateboarding - Palm Angels is one of the few that actually has authentic ties to skate culture. Founder Francesco Ragazzi has spent half his life in Los Angeles, getting to know the West Coast skate scene and his 2014 Rizzoli book, Palm Angels, is a love letter to the sport of skateboarding. That Pharrell Williams wrote the foreword to the black and white book that documented the LA skate scene speaks volumes about Ragazzi.
As the art director at legendary French outerwear brand Moncler, Francesco 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, ASAP 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 lead this change. Years before Chanel would strike up a relationship with the noughties’ biggest producer, Ragazzi would tap up the man behind the Neptunes to work on a bulletproof vest with Moncler and in many ways would kickstart the luxury fashion’s embrace of street culture. Though Virgil Abloh’s appointment at Louis Vuitton was a watershed moment, Ragazzi’s work at Moncler was the tipping point.
Not content with being a matchmaker between fashion and hip-hop, now Ragazzi has turned his hand to connecting the runways with the sidewalks. A continuation of the theme outlined in his Rizzoli volume, Ragazzi’s ultimate goal with Palm Angels is to change our perception of skateboard culture as a whole, turning the stereotypical image of the grungy skateboarder on its head and instead reimagine them as artists perfecting their art form. Through the medium of fashion, Ragazzi has exported the American culture which influenced him, back to Italy. In essence, Palm Angels is Los Angeles skate culture reinterpreted through an Italian lens. The result is a range of upscale, skate-inspired apparel imbued with Italian tailoring and fine fabrics, and finished with American iconographies like palm trees and cannabis leaves. Post-preppy and laid back, it’s relaxed vision of sportswear-inspired silhouettes is made in the best possible way, something that Italians know everything about.
Now, with summer well underway, there’s never been a better time to inject a touch of West-Coast America and Italian sprezzatura into your wardrobe. Before we delve into all things Palm Angels styling and sizing, we sat down with Francesco Ragazzi to get the lowdown on the brand from the man himself.
Interview with Palm Angels founder Francesco Ragazzi
How did your work with Moncler pave the way for Palm Angels?
I started working with Moncler 13 years ago as an intern. 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.
Your Palm Angels book with Rizzoli sought to flip the idea of the typical skater on its head. Why is that?
Skateboarding has always been recognized as raw and grungy, with my book I wanted to change that through a different perspective
What drew you to the sport of skateboarding initially?
Skate culture was just a starting point for me. It helped me develop the vision I have for Palm Angels, which is basically a reinterpretation of the American culture, a world that fascinates me. As explained in my book, rather than focusing on the tricks involved in this sport, I wanted to convey the sensation of men and women engaged in an epic all-consuming activity.
You worked extensively with Pharrell whilst at Moncler, and he wrote the foreword to the Palm Angels book. How did this relationship come about?
Pharrell is a special person. He was one of my idols before I started working with him. The rest is history.
In many ways with your work at Moncler with stars like Pharrell you predicted hip-hop’s fascination with the fashion industry. Who in the music industry do you look for inspiration now?
I would say I am inspired by the music industry and rappers in general, as being in line with the ideals of Palm Angels they are able to best express and reflect them.
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 the 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.
What are the differences stylistically between Milan and Los Angeles?
I think that we live in a global world now, made possible by Instagram and social media in general. Kids in Milan like the same things as kids in LA, maybe adding elements of their personal culture to create a more unique style.
Palm Angels is a reflection of your personal style – a mixture of Italian sartorial tradition with Americana culture. How do you strike the perfect balance in your garments?
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.
Is there more to the Italo-Americana link that’s at the core of Palm Angels, other than the obvious mix of fine Italian tailoring and fabrics with laid back American attitude?
Of course, it’s all about transmitting my point of view of these cultures and mixing this with my personal taste to give life to a true and unique style.
How to style Palm Angels with Terence Sambo (@terencesambo)
Visual artist, fashion editor and marketer from London, United Kingdom
How would you describe the way you dress?
Midlife crisis chic. Fusing streetwear with a bit of tailoring.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Who do you look to on Instagram for style inspiration day today?
Streetstyle photographer Marc-Henri Ngandu is my style icon. I’ve never seen a more stylish man.
How do Palm Angels' collections resonate with your own personal style?
I wear a lot of baggy fits and love to mix up prints and colours. Palm Angels SS20 is generous with most of these features.
Talk us through each look separately…
“Love the tone of blue and the sunrise print on the sweatshirt.”
“The floral print on the knit is kinda loud but still subtle if you get what I mean.”
“The overshirt/hoodie hybrid perfectly describes my state of dress.”
How do the sneakers fit/feel?
Which look is your favourite and why?
The blue sweatshirt look. I love how the tones of the top coordinate.
Which piece is your favourite and why?
The pink hat. It will easily be a lifelong investment.
Palm Angels Size Guide
For those wondering ‘does Palm Angels run big or small?’ there’s no concrete answer. But with the brand’s origins in Italian tailoring, every piece is immaculately cut which means they tend to fit perfectly whether sized up or down. Also, as the brand is proudly made in Milan it follows Italian sizing which means the best way to check how their garments fit is to convert your international size into the relevant IT size using the chart below.
Even then, Palm Angels notes ‘Size conversions vary and may not match the conversions shown below’. Therefore for the most accurate sizing, we recommend you take your own measurements to compare with the below sizing charts.
Palm Angels Size Chart:
For more in-depth advice, please see our sizing guide across each category below.
Palm Angels Jackets & Tops Size Guide:
Palm Angels' outerwear changes depending on the style but generally run oversized so we recommend you stay true-to-size. Some AW pieces have padding which can make the outerwear feel more fitted, in this case you could size up.
Palm Angels' hoodie is generally oversized with dropped shoulders when worn true-to-size. Those looking for a more fitted or baggier fit should size down or up respectively.
Palm Angels' knitwear tends to have a relaxed cut that looks best sized up for an oversized fit, just make sure to check sleeve length.
Palm Angels' track jacket is cut with a regular fit and generally runs a size small, so we recommend you take a size up. Those looking for a loose fit should go a further size up.
Palm Angels' shirting generally fits boxy when worn true-to-size. Those looking for an oversized fit should size up.
Palm Angels' t-shirt cut has a regular fit when worn true-to-size. We recommend you wear two sizes up for the Palm Angels runway look, or just one size up for a more oversized fit.
Palm Angels Sweatpants & Bottoms Size Guide:
Palm Angels' track pant sizing runs true-to-size with a relaxed fit throughout the leg and a slight taper at the ankle.
Palm Angels' standard jean cut is fitted at the waist with a slim cut through the leg. We recommend you wear true-to-size.
Palm Angels' standard shorts cut has a loose fit. We recommend you wear true-to-size.