27-29 January 2017. Brick Lane, East London.
“The legacy of Massimo Osti is all around us at Jacket Required. His groundbreaking work in founding the likes of Stone Island and C.P Company set the tone for many of today’s most revered brands. Though he passed away almost twelve years ago, his work lives on in the brands he brought to life and the fashion as a whole.
With a design philosophy based around experimentation and innovation, Osti took key military garments as a starting point and created something new using techniques he developed himself.
Having trained as a graphic designer, Massimo’s uncommon take on fashion together with a self-confessed stubborn streak helped him cement a reputation as a peerless pioneer.
Since his passing his family have sought to keep his spirit flourishing through an ever-expanding archive in his home city of Bologna. It is from this mind-blowing abundance of history that Proper magazine eventually managed to curate this exhibition of key Massimo Osti pieces.”
Jacket Required, London.
Stone Island and C.P. Company clothing first started appearing on the terraces of English football towards the end of the eighties. A natural progression from established Italian sportswear brands such as Ellesse, Fila and Diadora, that had been gracing the terraces for previous years. A new type of innovation of fabric, garments and branding were to be adopted by the terrace culture of England. The iconic branding of the button badge of Stone Island was to become, and still is the most recognisable brand associated with casual culture. For nearly 30 years Stone Island has been the most sought after clothing for any hooligan, or wannabe hooligan.
To this day the Stone Island button badge and C.P. Company Goggle Jackets hold mixed opinions amongst casual culture. A cliché to some to be seen wearing them on the terrace, as an instant advertisement to opposing fans and the authorities that you are a potential opponent or trouble maker. To others, still a relevant part of casual culture fashion as it’s ever been. Stone Island and C.P. Company are still the badge of honour for the terraces.
Regardless of your opinion, the true beauty of these created garments is where they came from, Massimo Osti. A ground breaking innovative designer who approached clothing in a different manner than ever seen before. His status has become iconic and his ideas are inspiring many brands to this day following his ideology.
A small piece of The Massimo Osti Archive came to London for three days in January. Running alongside the fashion trade show Jacket Required, together with Proper Magazine, an exhibition of 50 key pieces from Massimo’s work was displayed. The Massimo Osti Archive in Bologna includes 5,000 garments and over 50,000 fabric samples from around 300 textile mills and garment companies. Proper Magazine travelled to Bologna to pick the exhibition pieces. A private viewing day was followed by two days open to the general public. The exhibition also coincided with the release of the second edition of the Ideas from Massimo Osti book.
London is not a city that I am personally attracted to. Overcrowded and badly operated public services, congested roads. 100 mph life style with no time for care or thought for others. It is a wonderful city to explore and visit this land once great imperialistic history, however a cold and heartless city that will eat you up and spit you out. Approximately 90 km away from our beautiful city of Portsmouth, London is an easily accessible city to venture to for such events like this. The exhibition was situated on Brick Lane in East London. Brick Lane is known locally to some as ‘Banglatown’ due to its current large community of Bangladeshi immigrants. Although it has housed many nationalities of immigrants since the 17th century. Brick Lane is also extremely famous for its curry houses. The Old Truman brewery has also been on Brick Lane since the 17th Century until its closure in 1989. Currently it’s is an arts and events venue holding events like this.
The Archive exhibition was an impressive event featuring some of Massimo’s iconic pieces, from the C.P. Company goggle jackets through to Stone Island Ice Camo jackets. For people like myself with very little knowledge of Massimo’s career, it was an interesting spectrum of his catalogue of work, including projects outside of the Stone Island and C.P. Company banner. The two Left Hand jackets were especially favourites of mine. Also featured were projects Massimo embarked on with the car maker Volvo and clothing company Levi’s. A pamphlet was available regarding the pieces on show. However at times it was hard to identify the text to the exhibited pieces. Personally I would of preferred written text accompanying each piece on display. I’m sure the choice of Massimo’s work that was displayed will be debated by many experts of his work, but for us novices it was an opportunity for a perspective of Massimo’s work and career. The jacket descriptions below are from the text provided from Proper Magazine published pamphlet.
Goggle Jackets. Massimo’s initial idea of incorporating goggles into the jacket came after he studied Japanese Civil Defence uniforms. The ever constant influence of military clothing is apparent from the Swiss Army camouflage jacket that first appeared in service in 1957. This became the model for the Mille Miglia jacket some thirty years later.
C.P. Company, cotton leather bomber jacket. Inspired by a vintage Dutch police uniform. This 1982 jacket uses goatskin leather waterproofed cotton poplin.
C.P. Company, brown deerskin suede bomber jacket.
Stone Island, hand-sprayed jacket.
In a project aimed at raising funds for the Rainforest Foundation, these garments come about after a meeting in 1989 between Massimo, Sting and the chief of the Kayapo tribe. The Rainforest Foundation was an environmental charity dedicated to dangers of deforestation as well as preserving the Amazon’s natural habitat.
Stone Island Ice Camo. To some, the concept of a fabric changing colour according to the temperature is perhaps Massimo’s most recognisable innovation. In around 1987, Massimo’s assistant Lorenzo Piazzi began a conversation with a Japanese fabric developer, who had created a special nylon entitled Sway. Following an exciting period of testing, Massimo presented his first collection of ice jackets which he nicknamed Zelig after Woody Allen’s 1983 film.
In order to further experiment with thermosensitive fabrics, the second generation of ice jackets was created for A/W 1989-90. Using more subdued tones, the technology was expanded to be used on nylon, polyamide, cotton, jersey and linen. Not content with this, Massimo had another innovation up his sleeve. Stone Island announced itself into the 1990’s with the Camouflage Ice Jacket. The concept was an ambitious one which led to a significant spell in experimentation. The result is a camo pattern fabric which becomes monochrome when reacting to heat.
Stone Island camouflage ice jacket.
Stone Island camouflage ice jacket cape.
Stone Island camouflage ice jacket, vest and field ice jacket.
Stone Island camouflage ice jacket.
Left Hand hooded jacket. Created in 1983, Left Hand was Massimo’s first new brand for a decade. He used it as a new vehicle to showcase Thermojoint, a marriage of cotton and PVC inspired by a vision of a post-cold war future. The fabric was immediately copied. While trends at the time appeared to favour natural fibres. Massimo went against the grain by utilising new fabric and bonding synthetic fibres with cotton.
Left Hand jacket.
ICD+ Prototype. Having already worked with Levi’s on their Dockers line in 1999, a year later Massimo created a global line for the brand named ICD (Industrial Clothing Division). Taking the concept a step further, the ICD+ range was made in conjunction with Philips and consisted of four jackets that came with built in electronic devices stored in specifically shaped pockets, such as an MP3 player, mobile phone, headphones and a microphone.
Vintage Israeli Parka (with photocopies of pockets and zips attached). Massimo’s approach to design was an early form of cut and paste. Having trained as a graphic designer, the conventional method of clothing design did not come naturally to him. Instead he would photocopy various details taken from clothing in his archive which he would then cut out and attach to another vintage jacket. He would then usually leave this jacket hung up for a few days before coming back to re-examine his work.
Massimo’s personal sketch book.
Stone Island, reflective jackets.
Stone Island Zeltbahn cape. Using Stone Island’s founding cotton canvas Tela Stella in 1982. The fabric was created from military truck tarpaulins, impregnated with contrasting colours then softened and faded with an enzyme wash. The inspiration for the triangular design comes from a 1930’s German army cape with Massimo adding a hood and wide cuffs to keep the rain out.
Volvo Boiler Suit. In 1984 Massimo was asked by Swedish car manufacturers Volvo to design a range of functional clothing for their design factory workers and office employees. As well as this boiler suit his designs included jackets, vests and overalls.
Vintage Gas Mask.
Stone Island brown suede boot.
C.P. Company ashtray
C.P. Company magazines 1985-92
Words and Archive photos: North Harbour
Jacket descriptions: Proper Magazine