Stone Island Special - The Collector: James Parkes
There are so many new people out there who start selling, collecting and falling in love with Stone Island every day and at the same time there are special collectors all over the world that have been doing this for a long time; adding their very own twist to the Stone Island story. While most of the old collectors stay unknown and in the background for a couple of reasons, there still is a younger gang amongst the og collectors that share their collections with the world and sometimes even sell extraordinary pieces from their wardrobes.
James Parkes is one of these collectors and a very special one on top. First of all, this guy has been collecting Stone Island since long before Drake had ever put the iconic compass on his arm. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s so long ago that Drake wasn’t even wearing Supreme. So, let’s just say that James is a cool (still young) old cat and yes, you can actually use Drake as a chronometer here. The other reason that James is so special when compared to other collectors out there is his unique collection, endless knowledge and unparalleled passion for the brand.
Besides that James knows how to present the Stone Island aesthetic in the best ways ever.
We live in a time where the internet is filled with an never ending stream of left shoulder centred photographs that mix Italian sportswear with hypebeast pieces and James has found a way of taking his very own method and making it look amazingly on point.
James’ special skills are exemplified in his editorial shootings and in my opinion there is no other collector, seller (or call it whatever) that comes close to him and Too Hot Limited in terms of the strong language created by their pictures. There is so much vintage romanticism and the styling is always perfect, yet he still manages to bring in contemporary vibes and the look of the brand every time.
Because of all of these points, I’ve asked James Parkes to do curate an editorial for the Biancissimo Stone Island Special, and to answer some questions on top. I am more than happy to have this boss on Biancissimo, so please welcome… James Parkes:
Stone Island Special: The Collector's Editorial
Hi James, can you introduce yourself to Biancissimo?
I’m a 22-year-old self-employed graduate from Southampton, England. I collect vintage utilitarian workwear and drink K Cider on the weekends. I’ve owned a Stone Island piece from every year between 1982-2000, including a pair of Tela Stella Trousers from the brand’s first year in production.
When did you first get into collecting Stone Island and the brand itself? Was there a special piece or moment that changed your perception of the brand, or a person or story that you could relate to?
I first heard of Stone Island through a mate of mine at school whose older brother was amongst the ‘casual’ scene. We used to browse old-school sites like countylads.com (now defunct) which talked about the likes of Oliver Beer and his goliath jacket collection. I guess by this point I was obliviously exposed to the work of Massimo Osti but also too uneducated to distinguish between vintage and modern pieces. One thing I did know was that the brand wasn’t cheap, and having only been 14 or 15 at the time, it meant I could never afford the clothes. However, I was intrigued and wanted to know why the brand had such a dedicated following.
Whilst I was at college I started buying vintage clothes and trainers. At first it was just sourcing whatever the local charity shops were churning out, but then I began to find the more appreciated pieces like old Izod Lacoste cagoules and some original 70’s Adidas trainers. Through this I discovered the collector communities and learned to appreciate the appeal of vintage models, materials and designs.
I started university and soon came across my first vintage Stone Island piece. It was an A/W 1995 cream sweatshirt with a green-edged badge. The fabric was much thicker than anything I was used to and the fit was oversized. I trawled eBay looking for more green-edged pieces and found a whole selection of older models from the 80’s and 90’s, mostly listed for hundreds of pounds. Two models that stood out for me were the ‘Ice Camo’ and the ‘Toffee Wrapper’, mainly due to the fabrics and their respective properties. The Toffee Wrapper (Glazed Silk Light) was made from an unusual translucent PVC. It was a fabric that I had never seen before and I couldn’t tell if it was ugly or beautiful, but I definitely wanted one. With the Ice Camouflage, I was enticed by how it could change colour, especially for something that was made in 1990! By pure luck, I bought one of these jackets not long after. I remember showing my girlfriend the jacket once it had arrived, using a hairdryer to demonstrate its thermosensitive reaction. We had only been together for a short while and I’m sure she thought I was pretty nuts after. Next I managed to source a Toffee Wrapper in burgundy, complete with it’s Dutch rope lining and in immaculate condition. It was pretty surreal – two pieces I was previously admiring online were now part of my wardrobe.
What makes Stone Island special to you?
To me, Stone Island represents function, technology and innovation – three attributes that make the brand unique within the sportswear market. I think that’s why Stone Island has resonated with me, because it offers what others can’t.
Regarding your photos, there is this timeless vibe going on that connects the vintage world with the modern one. Who are the people you are working with and what are your ideas for styling Stone Island pre-2000 pieces in 2017?
For my work, it’s not about recreating a look from a certain time period because that’s not something I have personally experienced or can necessarily relate to. I enjoy collaborating with other young people and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really talented photographers.
In terms of styling, I try to keep it current. Dressing younger models in garments that are older than them is definitely a little ironic, like when I had Ike (who was only 18 at the time) shot in a 1988 C.P. Mille Miglia Race Jacket, a garment that’s considered one of Osti’s most sought-after designs. But I think that’s what makes it interesting, giving new life to pieces from previous generations.
From Massimo Osti to Paul Harvey and now a whole team of international designers and the big guy Rivetti in Ravarino, where do you see the future of the brand and are you excited?
Of course! You have to romanticize the future, it’s exciting to think what innovation may be next. I think for the people of Stone Island, the challenge will be sustaining and expanding upon the current buzz around the brand. The collaborations with Supreme have definitely succeeded in introducing a new following to the brand and the limited Prototype releases will only increase the hype around their products. I loved the versatility of the Dyneema project and I’m looking forward to future prospects.
Is there a piece that could stop your hunger for more once you got it?
For me, it’s always been about collecting pieces that I would wear as no one will have a better collection than the Stone Island archive. One piece that I don’t have is a S/S 1983 Tela Stella workwear jacket. All-white, Isola Di Pietra label, reflective shoulder patch/pocket and the Stone Island badge positioned to the chest. To me, this model epitomises everything that Stone Island is about.
Where do you get all of this detailed information about the individual pieces from? From the story, inspiration and so on?
I just read a lot! There's so much information regarding fabric treatments and design inspiration within the Archivio and the Osti book. Plus, if you dig deep online, then you'll find a few more stories to read. Every piece is unique, so it’s interesting to understand the design process behind why something has a certain pocket or button.
If you could choose one Stone Island piece for every season of the year which four pieces would make it into your annual routine and why?
Spring: S/S 1990 Ice Camouflage Anorak
One of my favourite and rarest pieces. Anorak design with fully functioning colour change.
Summer: S/S 1993 Tela Stella Jacket
Made from Stone Island’s pioneering fabric, this jacket was one of the first vintage purchases I made. Reversible and very versatile.
Autumn: A/W 1995 Corduroy Shirt
Pretty mad how much these go for now, nevertheless a simple piece that’s also as old as me.
Winter: A/W 1993 Glazed Silk Light ‘Toffee wrapper’
Iconic design made from waterproof PVC. Slightly transparent upon light, complete with woollen detachable Dutch rope lining.
When did you decide to sell particular Stone Island pieces and how would you describe your business?
I started selling Stone Island just to make a bit of money whilst I was studying at University, I’ve always seen it as a hobby above anything else just because I enjoy it so much. In regards to my stock, everything I sell is hand-picked and usually pre-2000. There is a nice mix of the really early pieces, 90’s grails and some interesting Paul Harvey designs. I only buy pieces I like, so you won’t ever see me trying to sell any dead V-neck jumpers!
Carlo Rivetti always refers to Stone Island as a club because it connects and unites people all over the globe. How many people did you get to know through your dedication to the brand and are there any special stories linked to that?
It’s weird, I’ve got to know a lot of people from around the world who share the same passion and interest for Stone Island. Most of which I haven’t even met! It can range from industry professionals to those who are just looking to pick up their first vintage piece. I think something that summarised this was when I attended the talk of Lorenzo Osti at the Proper x Jacket Required exhibition. You only had to look around the room to see how many different types of people that connected through sharing the same passion for clothes.
Can you imagine how a 2050 Stone Island jacket could look like?
Something you could wear on Mars, insulated with the beard trimmings of Mr Rivetti.