Forum regular Jamie (IDP) talks us through the early years of Stone Island, the Tella Stella fabric and Massimo’s first collection for the new brand.
In 1982 Massimo Osti began designing a new brand. He took his inspiration from the sea and adventure. Freedom, strength and durability are all words that Massimo wanted to convey in his original creations. What he created was STONE ISLAND.
This first collection was all designed using a fabric that was more at home in the automotive industry or with the military. It was tarpaulin, 90% cotton, 10% polyester gauze that had a different contrasting colour on either side. This is a photo of the original 1982 Stone Island colour swatch, it is still in the factory in Bologna to this day as an inspiration to the new generation that are working there.
This fabric was known as Tella Stella. Carlo Rivetti’s actual description of this fabric is: ‘Tella Stella combines a bi-colour cotton tarpaulin cloth which is finished using an “On Garment” dying process.”
I first became aware of this fabric in 2003 when Stone Islands 20th anniversary was celebrated at Flannels in Leeds. A number archive pieces were shipped to the UK and displayed for just one night at the store on Vicar Lane. The 20th Anniversary piece (Fibre Optic Jacket) sat centre stage in a big black box with a peep hole cut out so you could view the jackets feature Fibre Optics. The jackets were displayed in chronological order and the piece farthest to the left was the oldest. An unassuming navy blue jacket with green trim details and something I had never before seen. A Stone Island badge attached to the front left hand side of the chest! This piece captivated me, I could genuinely feel the history and presence of it. I have never been able to track down this jacket in Navy but I did manage to source this from Italy a few years later, it is the exact same jacket just in red.
This is quite possibly the first style of jacket ever created by Stone Island. It is from the Autumn Winter of 1982-1983 collection. It has the original tag re-attached to the badge, fully removable fleece liner attached via silver coloured pop studs, military inspired clasp fasteners on the flap covering a huge Lampo zip. The internal neck label differs greatly to modern labels, as does the care label.
By 1985 the neck label with both the Stone Island and Isola Di Pietra embroidered had ceased to be made and was replaced with the more recognisable modern sized label.
The badges on these original pieces were far more detailed too and had a different typeface. Notice the lack of any sort of insignia on the buttons, they were just plain simple silver coloured metal buttons.
I personally love the way Hugh Erollson of Acronym fame designed the Stone Island Shadow collection with the subtly hidden chest badge option, it is a true homage to the original Isola Di Pietra jacket ever designed and made by Mr Massimo Osti himself.
Tella Stella celebrated just one more season of production, Spring Summer 1983 which saw the birth of the famous cape. With button holes and buttons galore, central chest logo and more configurations for wearing than you could shake a stick at it really was a standout garment. This piece has still eluded me to this day. The nautical and seafaring influences were much more apparent in the SS83 collection, along with the cape was the Sailing Jacket and Fishermans Jacket.
It is rumoured that there were only seven styles of jackets produced in Tella Stella, I currently own six styles so provided the cape is classed as one of those styles it means that is the only one I need to complete them.
By Autumn Winter 1983-1984 another new fabric was released. Osti had taken the Tella Stella fabric and bonded a thin layer of rubber to one side of it. The original jackets made from this fabric had the soft cotton side on the interior and the rubber on the exterior, to my knowledge they all had the badges attached using a different style button again it was a dull finished metal ring with a single metal bar inside instead of the four drilled holes on the previous milk bottle style buttons, again it had no insignia. The position of the badge was different as well it had now been put on the left cuff. 1985 saw the badge arrive in the position we all know and love today and apart from the occasional piece that is where it has remained.
It was this process of bonding polyurethane (rubber) to a cotton layer that Osti pioneered in 1983 that is still embodied in every modern Stone Island collection today and is now commonly known now as Raso Gommato.
The information and dates I have quoted in this are the best to my knowledge, I have collected and collated the information over the past fifteen years and got a lot of my information about the first seasons collection first hand from Carlo Rivetti himself. I am sure there will be people who have differing opinions on dates etc but this is what I have found out and what I believe to be correct.