With our inaugural fabric guide, END. delves into Stone Island’s textile archives, spotlighting a selection of the label’s iconic materials and their importance in the world of technical fashion.
A label centred around a relentless pursuit of textile innovation, led with passion and consistency by Carlo Rivetti, Stone Island’s status within the world of technical outerwear needs little introduction to the initiated, the fashion forward or the technologically minded. It’s been that way since Massimo Osti founded the label in 1982 — the brand’s first creation, the Tela Stella Smock, was born out of an experimentation on military tarpaulins, after all.
As the brand developed throughout the latter portion of the 20th Century, Stone Island would delve deeper into experimentation, exploring fabric treatments and constructions in a way that mirrored that of a scientific laboratory. The result is an archive filled with a near-endless list of pioneering fabrics; materials that have allowed the label to continuously push the boundaries of performance outerwear, forging into the unknown with a methodical and aesthetically-minded spirit.
With our inaugural fabric guide, END. takes a trip through Stone Island’s material archive, shining a light on some of the brand’s most iconic materials from the past and present, outlining their importance within the world of fabric development and their long-lasting impact on the world of technical fashion.
Nylon Metal is one of Stone Island’s most popular fabrics, and for good reason; it perfectly embodies the label’s experimental approach — both in its construction and its appearance. The fabric is built from a nylon yarn with three parts — or trilobate, as it’s so often called — with grey weft and white warp colours that are primed for garment dyeing.
Using this as the foundation, the fabric then undergoes an elaborate double-dyeing process at high temperatures. This is what gives Nylon Metal its unique appearance: it’s iridescent, possessing different tones and intensities that alter under changing light conditions. The foundations for what ultimately led to Nylon Metal were established years prior to its debut in 2005; Formula Steel debuted in the 1990s, and was made using a nylon shell that was bonded to a polyurethane film, then garment dyed to achieve its shimmering, metal-like effect.
Like many materials in Stone Island’s vast archives, Micro Reps is crafted to a military specification. The material’s weft yarns are thinner in diameter to its warp, allowing it to be tightly woven to make it compact and wind resistant. The finished product is often coated with an anti-drop agent, too, which helps to ensure that the material’s surface is dirt and water repellent.
David-TC starts out with a light, star-shape polyester layer that’s then sewn and simultaneously garment dyed at high temperatures — 130°C, to be exact. During the dyeing process, it’s given an anti-drop treatment, resulting in a fabric that’s not only super hardwearing, but resistant to dirt and water. David Light-TC has the same properties, only it’s much lighter — hence the name.
Raso Gommato plays an integral part in Stone Island’s design language, having been in many collections — either in its normal state or modified — since it debuted in 1983. The approach was to retain the garment’s waterproof functionality while reducing its rigidity, with Osti opting to use a long-fibre Egyptian cotton that was coated with polyurethane to achieve this. The fabric would then be garment dyed to add depth to its colour and make the material softer.
In Stone Island’s formative years, Massimo Osti spent an extensive amount of time working on a material that seemed more suited to military use. It was a tarpaulin — inspired by those used on military trucks — and made using a cotton canvas material. To soften the fabric and make it more suited to city use rather than military, it was coated with resin and dyed on either side, then washed using pumice stones. The result was a windproof garment that was reminiscent of old oilskins that were weathered and corroded by the sea. This, in many ways, set the tone for Stone Island’s approach to design; utility always serves as inspiration, and materials — whether that be construction technique, dyeing or treatments — are absolutely paramount.
One of — if not the — most iconic Stone Island pieces is the Ice Jacket. There are many reasons for this, like just how futuristic it was — now, even, and not just when it debuted in ‘88 — or the fact that it marked the beginning of the label’s use of thermosensitive materials, something that would continue right up until this very day. The term “Ice Jacket” refers to the jacket’s ability to change temperature: it was constructed using nylon that was coated using a thermosensitive liquid, with heat-sensitive molecules that allowed greater amount of light through depending on temperature. The resultant effect meant that you could walk out into the cold wearing one colour, and return wearing another, as if by magic.