For decades, the clothing brand Stone Island has been an unmistakable cornerstone of British street style. Originally founded in 1982, by Italian Massimo Osti, the iconic compass emblem became popularised by the Paninaro boys of ‘80s Milan, an edgy Italian youth subculture symbolised by wealth, fun and an underlying love for designer labels.
From the mid ‘90s, the cult force soon adorned a culture following in Europe, simultaneously colliding with the emergence of the Casuals subculture in Britiain: a subsection of diehard soccer supporters notorious for hooliganism, habitually intimidating and physically attacking rival supporters during matches. Rather than donning their team’s colours, many hooligans began wearing designer clothing labels and expensive sportswear brands such as Stone Island, Sergio Tacchini, Ralph Lauren, Fred Perry, Lacoste and Burberry in an effort to be disguised and evade attention from the police.
The brand soon became ingrained within the underground UK Grime scene in London, a genre of rap music that emerged in the early 2000s, taking influence from earlier styles, including UK Garage, Jungle, Reggae, Dancehall and Hip Hop. Stone Island’s prior association with rioting and vandalism made it synonymous with brute force and masculinity, and an appealing choice of attire for the male dominated grime crowd, as the brand soon became adopted by the likes of Skepta, JME and Chip, pioneers of the concealed Grime scene.
Whereas Stone Island’s popularity in mainstream culture has plateaued in past years, every brand revival can be cast be cast back to an iconic moment in history. For Stone Island, that resurgence came with Drake.
Drake’s fondness of UK Grime and newfound friendship with Skepta has led to the Candian’s repeated endorsement of the Stone Island brand throughout world media, parachuting the brand into mainstream culture, and elevating the brand to new found popularity levels.
With a series of collaborations between Stone Island and brands more familiar to the North American market, such as NikeLab and New York skate brand Supreme, it’s no wonder why Stone Island is receiving such a surge in cultural and global relevance.
*Cover photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
*Pictures courtesy of Bleacher Report, Highsnobiety, Kingsize.no, Newfangle and VICE Sports