Today the Stone Island brand is recognised worldwide as being at the cutting edge of menswear design; both in terms of fashion and technology, with specific interest in the functionality of a garment. Stone Island owes continuous success to research and innovation both in the construction and details of the finished garments and in exclusively developed materials.
Stone Island this year celebrates its 30th Anniversary, founded in 1982 by graphic designer Massimo Osti in Bologna, the label was then sold to Carlo Rivetti and his sister Cristina in 1993. They instilled a tradition of research and experimentation, always striving for uniqueness in design and integrity in production and it’s this constant dedication to textile research which sets Stone Island apart. Rivetti has personally overseen the brand’s creative direction since 2008 and his passion for Stone Island is clearly evident.
Cruise talks to Carlo Rivetti about Stone Island’s continuous success, their product research and innovation and the 30th Anniversary celebrations.
Cruise Clothing Q&A Carlo Rivetti
What is Stone Island’s DNA that makes it stand out from all other brands?
Stone Island is research, experimentation, function and use. It is a sportswear brand that carries on an ongoing investigation on the processing and ennobling of fibres and textiles, leading to discover materials and production techniques never used before in the clothing industry.
We test a lot on dyeing and treatments in the internal laboratory of colour. It is a department able to combine advanced technology, experience and human capacity and that has developed more than 60.000 different dyeing recipes throughout the years.
We study the uniform and the work wear. Our archive, with 20.000 pieces is as well a strong point of reference. I believe that the insatiable curiosity of sounding the present and the tension towards possible future scenarios that are the conditions for Stone Island’s continuous evolution.
From 1982, the DNA and the values have never changed. The continuity and integrity within the Stone Island story make the brand unique.
Who is your ideal Stone Island customer?
Actually, my customers ARE the ideal customers: they are conscious customers, they understand the products. Men buying Stone Island are aware of the specifics of the garments; they know the function and research behind fabrics. They are proud to wear the badge!
Also in term of age, Stone Island is worn by a far broader range of people! There are the young guys that understand the story of our product, the quality and the passion and we have customer that used to buy Stone Island in the 80’s and they still do. A lot of them have a huge culture of the brand; they know almost everything, true collectors.
Just to give you an example: there is an Italian drummer and every time he is in tour, as soon as he arrives in a city, he visits our points of sale and sends me a postcard with his note about the shop and about the products. After some postcards, we finally met. We chat a lot and now we use emails instead of postcards. I was really happy to see him at the opening of the exhibition STONE ISLAND 30. We also had quite a lot of people from abroad, mainly the UK, that took the occasion of visiting Florence because of the exhibition. Can you see the point? My customers are special!
What has been your most memorable part of Stone Island’s 30th Anniversary celebrations?
Last June -to celebrate the brand’s anniversary - we produced STONE ISLAND 30 a retrospective exhibition that took place in Florence, thanks as well to the contribution of the Pitti Discovery Foundation. It was a 3 week running exhibition from June to July, designed and curated by Simon Foxton and Nick Griffiths in the 2.500 square meter amazing Stazione Leopoldac- a dismissed mid nineteenth century train station.
The exhibition included over 200 pieces from the archives, divided in 10 thematic areas staged, in some breathtaking settings, representing the innumerable treatments, tests and processes that were required to create them. Entering and walking through the exhibition, together with all the people of my company, to me, has been a huge emotion. I saw, there, in a very clear way, the continuity within the Stone Island story. This made me feel really proud. I think that there are not a lot of brands that still carry on with integrity and identity instead choosing to follow the market.
What was your inspiration and the design process involved in the 30/30 jacket?
The 30/30 is one of the three celebrative garments for the anniversary. It represents the engineering of the garment; it is the sum of the key Stone Island technologies. Two garments in one, both reversible, which can be worn in 30 different ways. In Raso Gommato Prismat¬ic Cover, a cotton-based satin coated inside with a prismatic polyurethane film, garment dyed with a double dye formula and in Thermo Reflective, a heat sensitive and reflective fabric knitted inside.
Fashion is in your blood with your family being involved in the textile industry for many years, if you weren’t in fashion what would be your ideal career?
I am the 8th generation working with textiles and clothing. It is in my blood! I cannot imagine doing anything different.
What has been your biggest achievement since you have taken over the brand?
Every single garment, every material, to me, is special.
A big “revolution” started in 2003 when we achieved garment dyeing the polyester at 130° C under pressure: this process opened up a whole new horizon in treatable fibres.
Stone Island primarily focuses on the functionality of the garments but is also at the cutting edge of men’s wear design, how do you successfully manage to make this work?
Every Stone Island garment starts with the research in fabric and treatments as well as function and use. Then we adapt the design to the textile and the function. Even considering this aspect, the brand have a well defined identity, it is a strong and masculine label. This is really evident to me and to my team.
What do you think the future holds for the luxury sportswear market?
I see the luxury sportswear market as one of the only segments growing. As my grandmother always said, the more you spend the less you spend. Consumers are investing in good and valuable clothing nowadays. I see this as a long-term trend.
What would you like to be your lasting legacy?
Well, the power displayed in our book ARCHIVIO and in the STONE ISLAND 30 exhibition tells it all. My legacy is my company’s legacy, 30 years now, but many more to come, of outstanding product conceived and made with the passion very similar to the drive and tenacity of a group of explorers constantly enquiring new fields of research. Someone told me that looking at the book and exhibition you have in front of you the history of sportswear, well, I think that this could be too much but for sure you have the review of a strong and knowledgeable point of view on sportswear.
What currently excites you in the world of fashion?
I am a professor at Politectnico University of Milan. Talking with a new generation of Fashion designers is very interesting.