Stone Island Special - From The Terraces To The Avant Garde: Daniel Milne
I have been following Daniel Milne for a very long time and I have always been more than amazed about his technical knowledge and cultural connection to the brand. With his terrace background and his career in fashion there has never been a better person for me to get information about the different subcultures around modern menswear and all the industry details and innovative movements inside Stone Island. Back in the days, Dan was the creative head behind one of the smartest approaches on writing about casual clothing and the very first person who introduced me to the stories of Paul Harvey, Eiichiro Homma, taped Macs, and the smart side of casual clothing. Being a buyer for contemporary menswear and having a background in the vivid and iconic U.K. terrace scene, Dan is the perfect match when it comes to talking about Stone Island's way from the terraces to haute couture. In many ways, both, Stone Island and Dan, share the same story and their lives are deeply connected beyond garments and dying processes.
For Biancissimo, Dan will give us an insight into the brand's way to the top by portraying his own relation to it, from the football pitches of Scotland to the high end retail stores around the world. Welcome Daniel Milne!
Stone Island - From The Terraces To The Avant Garde: Daniel Milne
Stone Island’s place in menswear folklore was architected by the pragmatic Massimo Osti. A graphic designer turned garment engineer, Osti laid the foundation for a creative philosophy entirely based on experimentation. Little did he know then, that his ingenuity and innovative ideas would alter the landscape of mens fashion for decades to come.
The year was 1982 & Massimo would embark on his first collection which was secondary to the already established C.P Company & Boneville. Osti would base his creations around a revolutionary fabric known as ‘Tela Stella’ which was dual coloured and was indeed used to make truck tarpaulins. The first collection compromised of seven jackets which strongly referenced military styles & included the soon to be iconic compass inspired by military insignia. The compass is said to symbolise love for the sea & an aim for constant research.
To say that Massimo was ten years ahead of others in the industry is a huge understatement. He admittedly saw himself as producer and not a fashion designer. Not only had he crated something appealing and saleable, but also true to his core beliefs in informal clothing. His conception was drawn from work wear and military garments linked by his endless need for textile research.
During the period of infancy a young man by the name of Carlo Rivetti entered the picture, and brought with him several generations worth of fabric and garment design knowledge. Over the last few decades Stone Island has remained under the true guidance and creative hand, of one man. Carlo’s life long passion for the creation of performance clothing steadied the ship whose captain had came and went, and whose legacy has long since been intertwined with various subcultures, consumers, fashion designers & fanatical devotees.
After Massimo’s ill fated departure from the brand, Carlo was left with an uphill task of finding a suitable replacement, little did he know then that the man to steer the brand into the 21st century was working out of a small studio only 20 kilometres from the factory.
The man tasked with the would be impossible job was the legendary Paul Harvey. Paul is revered by many but none so more than myself, his conception and interpretations of Stone Island are what had me hooked as a star gazed 13 year old kid. The great thing about Paul is that he was a magician, so much so that you didn't see the change of hand between Massimo’s last collection & Paul's first. Overtime of course the brand evolved and continued to push the envelope of design & functionality, this seen Paul spend 13 illustrious years at Stone Island, 1 more year than Massimo Osti, so Paul is a very important part of this romantic tale.
It really is impossible to speak about Stone Island without mentioning the various subcultures that it has flowed through over the years. The earliest adopters where the a style conscious Milanese youth faction known as the Paninaro. The name derives from the panini bars in which they frequented in they're home city. This fashionable lot of young men in they're twenties would fuse classic Americana styles with the latest in cutting edge sportswear from homegrown Italian designer brands.
It was around this period that the synonymous terrace casual culture was really gathering momentum. These diehard football supporters had a series quench for flashy designer labels that emerged across the U.K in the 80’s. Unlike the hooligans before them, the casuals opted not to wear team colours to avoid unwanted attention from the old bill, this with the added bonus of going into another teams manor flaunting they're sartorial credentials before kicking each other heads in.
These designer brands were hard to source and that included the much sought after Stone Island. What spawned from this was a culture of one-upmanship between the firms with each other trying to outdo one another with rarer, more expensive & ultimately more innovative pieces. Stone Island fitted this mould perfectly, with the boundary pushing aesthetics and designs. The brand from then on became the most integral part of what people know as “casual culture”.
It was this aforementioned culture that got me hooked from the get go. To me it was more about the camaraderie than the stupidity of violence. The idea that you and your friends would follow your beloved team all over the country, getting fucked and wearing your best designer clothes, seemed like my idea of heaven. I was instantly exposed to a vast array of brands and styles but it was the compass of Stone Island that I lusted for. Firstly it was expensive, secondly that famous arm patch gave you an identity, anywhere you went, you were instantly noticed. it was like a uniform, you almost felt like you belonged to a special club.
I would be lying if I said that the romanticism of the casual culture wasn't what ignited my passion for clothes and sneakers. It would only be later in my life where I would take a step back and appreciate the brand for a whole lot more than a casuals uniform. I began to get interested in the processes, the fabrication, more about functionality & garment dying than I ever cared to dream. Thats the unique thing about Stone Island, the brand has many layers & when you look past it and see the hard work dedication and innovation involved season after season you can see why it has many admirers across the globe.
Now, lets fast forward past Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Peter Hook of Joy Division and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys. Lets forget about Football Factory & subsequently Green Street. Where is Stone Island today & what lies in store for the most progressive fashion brand of our time?.
If you ask certain individuals they will state that the brand was making a comeback, but in actual fact it never left..
Theres no getting away from the reality that collaborations with Nike & Supreme accompanied by the endorsement of various grime and hip hop stars have propelled the once deemed “small brand from Ravarino” into a whole different stratosphere.
As much as I am joyful of the brand getting the much deserved air time, it comes with a host of downfalls. I wont dwell on that too much but as a purist and someone who has such an affinity with the brand, I believe wholeheartedly that Stone Island do not need to collaborate with anyone. But when you weigh up the hype, the connotations, the access and the reselling of product for crazy prices its fair to say that we have entered a new chapter in the brands paramount history.
All that aside, the exciting thing for me, not only as a diehard fan but someone who works in the industry, is that Stone Island can be fully recognised as a fashion brand and not just for hooligans only. You look on all good retail outlets across the globe, all forms of online lifestyle sites and now for first time Stone island will be firmly in the limelight, new season collections, interviews, featured in editorials from some of the best retailers in the world. promoted from the rafters & bought extensively across the market. The once snob-like attitude against the brand has well and truly vanished with everyone wanting a piece of the action.
With no hesitation I can say that Stone Island can comfortably stand shoulder to shoulder beside brands such as Rick Owen’s, OAMC, Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons... the list is endless, such is the diversity of the brand. These brands share a similar view on progressive and future fashion, something Stone Island has long championed. & why shouldn't it up be up there? You look closely at a lot of these brands and designers and in one way or another they have referenced Osti over the years.
Take Aitor Throup for example, arguably one of the most innovative designers of our time. At the age of 36, he has seasoned CV that most designers would drool over. Not to mention being the architect behind the C.P Company 20th anniversary 1000m Mille Miglia & Stone Islands Modular Anatomy jacket, easily one of the best pieces of outerwear the brand has produced. Aitor has always referenced Osti and how his philosophy transmitted into his own way of thinking and designing.
This current crop of sartorial creators who are at the forefront of menswear today are creating they're own trends, own subcultures & loyal devotees.
If you ask me what type of Stone Island pieces appeal to today then it would have to be from The Shadow Project line. Fusing two ideologies of Carlo Rivetti & Errolson Hugh. The Shadow line for me is much more experimental and fashion led. The DNA of Stone island is still very much there but ignited with a practical & more modern approach by Acronym’s think tank.
Thats the beauty of it. As I evolve, the brand evolves with me. The old shackles of wearing a crewneck sweat with baggy dad jeans & rinsed Adidas terrace footwear are a thing of the past. The world we live in is changing and so are trends and styles. I try to involve Stone Island in my day to day wardrobe as much as I can, its not always possible but I do try. Like mentioned earlier it lends itself to many different ways of dressing, different subcultures and can be interoperated in a host of amazing ways. I think you can see that in the shapes of the garments now, the fabrics. It comes down to that old adage “Its how you wear it”.
So where does that leave things? well its simple really. I will continue to champion the brand in every way that I can, my tastes in fashion will ultimately change from season to season but the core values of my wardrobe and how I dress are laid by solid foundations that Massimo Osti & Stone Island laid out all those years ago.
It might sound crass but without Stone Island, I wouldn't be walking the path I do today. Its the very heart beat of my existence, it has moulded the way I think, the way I feel & how I perceive things. I owe a massive debt to the brand and to the likes of Carlo Rivetti & Paul Harvey. Without these pioneers Id still be wearing Lacoste tracksuits & Nike TN’s.