“Function is the purest form of aesthetics”

This line, spoken in Stone Island’s 40th-anniversary video on YouTube, captures the Italian brand’s drive to create perfect garments through scientific research and technically advanced materials. It’s the same drive that made them unique from any other brand at the time of their birth and it continues to inspire the cutting-edge designs we see on the streets today.
Stone Island’s milestone birthday has certainly not gone unnoticed as compass-badge collectors worldwide are donning their coveted t-shirts, cargo pants, and more in commemoration of the brand’s legacy. At GIULIO, we also wanted to celebrate the scientists of style and so we have compiled Stone Island’s definitive 20th century moments for you to read below.


Already a radical decade for fashion, the eighties introduced us to a small Italian brand by the name of Stone Island; founded by the garment engineer Massimo Osti and named after Joseph Conrad novels. At the time, Stone Island was designated as Osti’s secondary line but the brand’s nautical themes (inspiring their compass logo) and a quest for innovation saw them capture the attention of Carlo Rivetti.


Only a year after the brand’s birth, Carlo Rivetti teamed up with Massimo Osti to create one of Stone Island’s first collections consisting of seven coats made from a canvas material called ‘Tela Stella’. The unique material was primarily used for truck tarps but the duo saw its potential as durable outerwear and the successful collection left everyone asking about this new brand with the compass-patched coats. The success also encouraged Rivetti to purchase the entirety of Stone Island after acquiring a 50% stake the year before and he remains at the brand’s helm today as CEO.
The implementation of ‘Tela Stella’ material did not satisfy Stone Island and in the same year, they began to play and experiment with new dyeing techniques and surface treatments including Raso Gommato, a polyurethane-coated cotton with military origins in keeping with Stone Island’s utilitarian aesthetic.


The end of the eighties marked the dawn of another iconic fabric from Stone Island’s lab called ‘Rubber Wool’. This combination of juxtaposing fibers was ground-breaking for its time as it married the breathability of wool and the weather-resistance of rubber for garments with new performance capabilities including sweatshirts and lightweight thermals.


Shortly after the ‘Rubber Wool’ discovery, Stone Island created their first reflective jacket made from the taping found traditionally on firemen and nocturnal workers’ uniforms. With his creative capabilities, Osti made the material less rigid and created the first fully reflective jacket, solidifying Stone Island’s innovative reputation.


After 14 years of designing, the founder Massimo Osti decided to part ways with Stone Island, leading Carlo Rivetti to appoint Paul Harvey as the creative successor. The Central Saint Martins alumni excited Rivetti with his take on functional fashion and although the partnership was shortlived, Harvey helped Stone Island to evolve through 24 iconic collections.

Looking at Stone Island today with their cult-following and highly coveted collections including Shadow Project (2008) and Ghost (2019), it may seem insignificant to talk about their early years. However, the 20th century saw the creation of not just Stone Island the brand, but also their most iconic fabrics. It was a time of play for the brand, building a functional aesthetic with luxury prowess whilst working with ground-breaking designers who pushed the boundaries of streetwear before anyone else dared to.

As Stone Island continues to celebrate their anniversary, we too shall dress in our favourite Stone Island jackets, jumpers, and tracksuits all year long with an appreciation for the brand’s past accompanied by an excitement for their future. If you are looking to invest in your street style wardrobe this season, check out GIULIO’s curation of Stone Island pieces available to buy online and in-store today.