Stone Island has been gifting the fashion world with their forward-thinking, research-led technical menswear for decades. Taking over at the helm of the struggling Italian brand in the 80s, Carlo Rivetti injected an ethos of experimentation and innovation into Stone Island’s core, paving the way for the discovery of never-before-seen materials and methods.
We catch up with Carlo Rivetti and discuss influences, favourite pieces and the future of Stone Island in an exclusive interview with Cruise.
Tell us about your AW14 collection.
The theme of the collection is the NEO-LUX. My intention is to signs off a new classification of utilitarian luxury. Neo-Lux means contemporary, rich, thoughtful aesthetics that are design and style conscious but have roots in perennial classics. So it is the result of merging the visual and tactile richness of Stone Island’s exclusive materials with its considerate and functional design and its well-known mastering in colour treatments and finishes.
What are your favourite pieces?
In the Autumn Winter ‘014 collection I would say the new Hand Painted Camouflage jacket in Raso Gommato. It is first dyed and then decoloured in some targeted areas with a corrosive paste. The tortoise pattern is then individually hand painted on the faded parts, the piece is then over-dyed. It is an handcraft piece!
Then, I am very proud that for the first time we achieve a thermo-sensitive coat in a natural material: for years we have worked on thermo-sensitive fabrics, evolving the experience and introducing new technologies. The Ice Jacket Wool Blend is the wool version.
We have also introduced the Thermo Reactive 3D Knit, a double knit weave woollen material where the gaps between the two faces have been filled - in specific areas - with a thermo reactive polypropylene yarn which swells up through the finishing steaming heat, creating a permanent downy 3D motive.
What are your main influences?
Sportswear has to be functional and serve the wearer in his everyday life. The biggest research in function is derived from military wear, where all uniforms have to serve for their use. Work wear as well is important for functional research. This is why, since the beginning, we drew our inspiration from these two fields. The military aesthetics as well is important because it is elegant, useful and gives status to the wearer. We also research active sportswear especially for ergonomics and performance driven cuts and fabrics. What is important as well is the evolution of work wear and lifestyle habits, people that drive bikes to go to the office for example, or the field of protection that inspired us to use reflective fabrics.
We get inspired by everything: by people, architecture, design... Once we investigated, and then used, a material produced for the filters of kitchen oven hoods!
How has the brand evolved?
Since the very beginning Stone Island was focused on the research of textiles. From this point of view, also thanks to new technologies, the evolution has been amazing, without limit: we have made the Ice jacket, that changes colours with the changes of the temperature, the Reflective jacket, highly reflective thanks to thousands of microspheres of glass.. A big “revolution" started in 2003 when we achieved garment dyeing polyester at 130° C under pressure: this process opened up a whole new horizon in treatable fibres… I can tell you many more examples!
Then, I see that the brand has matured a lot in recent years, since I decided to engineer the collection in a more complete way. We started a more organic and layered approach. We worked on the product itself, on the occasion of use of the garments, paying more attention by giving a ‘Stone Island Feel’ to the lighter families of product.
What makes Stone Island so iconic?
My perception is that men wearing Stone Island feel like being part of a club… the removable badge on the left arm, helps to make pieces recognizable, iconic. Then, the items are so strong that even without the badge you can recognize them and when you are wearing Stone Island you feel proud of what you are wearing.
I also think that our fans understand the functionality and research in fabric and treatments that we always expressed. Stone Island ‘does the job’, it protects, keeps you warm, but it is also very handsome to wear.
How have you established a balance between functionality and design?
Actually, it is not a balance because the functionality drives the design. Everything starts having the use of the item in mind. Then, the textile research - naturally and in some way - defines the design.
How important is luxury sportswear in today's fashion landscape?
I think that feeling “spoiled", wearing something special, beautiful, comfortable and functional is a kind of a fulfilment... and in this hard period, it is something important.
Describe your perfect outfit
I would say a quick drying Stone Island swimsuit .. not really for the swimsuit but for the place where I would wear it!
Where does the future of the brand lie?
The research never stops and I am confident that new technologies will increase the performances.
In terms of design, we will continue to observe the fields that are close to us –and that never stop evolving - to get inspired.
Then, my intention is to let Stone Island be known globally. To do this, we will invest in countries that so far are secondary such as the United States.
Opening in a new continent gives me many ideas for the future.
You’re very selective with your choice of retail partners, why Cruise?
I am proud of being friend and partner of such a leading independent luxury retailer. Cruise has pioneered Stone Island for over 25 years; it was one of the first stores in the UK to stock the brand and has carried it every season since. When true stories meet, they never break.