LIFESTYLE & NEWS
WHY DO RAPPERS LOVE WEARING STONE ISLAND SO MUCH?
Drake loves Stone Island. On his Instagram, the rapper has shared images of his collection alongside pictures of Matteo Rivetti, the son of Carlo, the Italian clothing label’s creative director. From late 2015 to mid 2016—a time that marks the early days of Drake’s Stoney fixation—the rapper was prone to shouting out the younger Rivetti whenever he posted pictures of himself wearing the brand. But when you’re wearing someone’s clothes publicly every week, there’s no need to shout them out. At this point, Drake’s existence is basically an extended Stone Island cosign.
He’s donned the luxury men’s clothing brand in Berlin andCopenhagen, in Antwerp and Amsterdam and Sacramento. Onstage, he’s worn Stone Island vests, Stone Island jackets, and Stone Island tracksuits. He’s sported Stone Island while clutching a Union Jack, watching a basketball game, partying with his father, having fun with his mother, and hanging out with fellow Stone Island lover Travis Scott. Stone Island has joined Drake for dinner with friendsand quiet nights with another favorite companion, the champagne bottle. It’s kept him warm in a pink puffer and slim-fit navy, and extravagant via a giant gold pendant emblazoned with its iconic compass logo.
Over the past six months, the Canadian rapper has posted pictures of himself in Stone Island gear no less than 22 times—since 2014, that number has edged towards 50. Whatever we might say about Drake’s relatively sudden outpouring of support for Stone Island, one thing is clear: none of this is subtle. Drake doesn’t simply love Stone Island—he wants you to know he loves Stone Island. The question, it seems, is why.
Founded in 1982 by Massimo Osti—an innovative designer who left the advertising world to work in fashion—Stone Island was created as a side collection from Osti’s main label, C.P. Company. With C.P. producing functional, military-style outerwear (including their now-famous goggle jacket), Stone Island focused on specialized dyes and pioneering fabrics, like their glass shard–sprayed liquid reflective jacket. And while Stone Island’s top-selling parkas retail around the four-digit mark, you can also find the Stoney logo on the arms and pockets of cheaper sweatshirts, knitwear, shirts, and jeans—which seems key to the brand’s global rise. That’s because, en route from wealthy Italians to Canadian rap superstars, Stone Island took a lengthy detour via working class British men.
Not long after its founding, Stone Island became fashionable among an Italian youth subculture called Paninaro, named for the panino (or sandwich) cafés where the scene would congregate. “They were wearing Stone Island, Moncler, and Best Company, and mixing it with an Americana, Fonz-type style of washed jeans rolled up with Converse and t-shirts,” says Ollie Evans of the vintage retailer Too Hot Limited. How Paninaro spread from the streets of Milan to the British music scene lies in that most European of sports: football. Traveling fans began seeing the Paninaro look and bringing its brands back home. Soon Stone Island found a foothold within British terrace culture—named for the stands where football fans would watch games—and “spread like wildfire through the 80s and 90s,” Evans adds.
In the years that followed, Stone Island apparel became associated with a certain kind of gritty English alternative rock (Oasis, the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays), as well as flashier genres like UK garage and jungle. The aesthetics of football fans and die-hard ravers found an intersection with the musicians of so-called cool Britannia, and the result was a brand that even today toes lines between subcultures. While the heydays of UK garage and Britpop are long over, Stone Island has managed to adapt and maintain its position as one of the go-to labels for successful (but still edgy) British musicians. (That’s not to say Stoney’s older fans have given it up, though; after performing at this year’s Glastonbury, Liam Gallagher took to Twitter to ask “the cunt who stole [his] Stone Island parkas” for their safe return.)
The relationship between fashion and music has long been a strong one, linked further by aspects like class identity, perceptions of wealth, and cultural capital. While American rappers—from Jay-Z (Tom Ford) and Migos (Versace) to Kanye and A$AP Rocky (both too many to name)—delight in repping designer labels in their bars, British rappers aren’t quite so aspirationally high-end. Instead of namechecking (and wearing) expensive European designers, grime artists are more likely to be kitted out in roadman staples like Adidas, Akademiks, Nike, and, of course, Stone Island. Recent references to the label can be found all over the genre, from Skepta in “Over the Top 2” and “That’s Not Me,” to Kano in “Three Wheel-Ups,” to Dave’s verse in his J Hus collaboration, “Samantha.” In the “Samantha” video, Dave’s attire matches his lyrics (“Stone Island from my head to my feet”), while everyone from Stormzy to members of Skepta’s crew BBK have been spotted in Stone Island apparel over the past few years. In the UK, a Stone Island namecheck is more than a reference that a grime-loving audience will get—it’s a brand they’ll know well.
When it comes to Americans, Drake might be the most famous of Stone Island’s rap fans, but he’s not the only one. Vince Staples and Travis Scott have been spotted in the brand a number of times, with Staples’ video for “Big Fish” resembling one long, dark Stone Island ad (with far better music). Last year, A$AP Nast accused Scott of stealing his style, firing off a flurry of Instagram posts in which Nast claimed to be the first East Coast rapper “anyone cared about” who wore Stone Island.
Much like Drake’s love affair with London and grime, Stone Island adds to the image he has painstakingly cultivated. It is a label still favored by men from a variety of backgrounds across the UK, yet has retained its low-key coolness. “I think the type of people who are wearing it are still the right type of people for the brand,” says Evans of Too Hot Limited. “It’s still niche in that it attracts people who are interested in culture and subcultures to it, rather than being completely overtly mainstream.”
After Stone Island’s first appearance on Drake’s Instagram, Complexpublished an article titled “Why Is Drake Moving Like a London ‘Road Man’?”—which, in a meta turn of events, was followed the next day by the rapper referencing the piece in an IG post about missing the capital city. Despite its Italian lineage, Stone Island has a strong London feel—which is to say it is a mashup of trends from across countries and cultures, an approach Drake clearly appreciates given the scope of his last album. Grime was intended as a counter-narrative to British rappers who would spit bars in American accents, but today it’s North American rappers who follow in English footsteps—via Italian kids trying to look American, no less. As Stone Island makes gains across the States with flagship stores, high-profile collaborations, and, of course, a flood of Drake love, the label’s perceived air of authenticity could become up for debate in the future. The question of who will be wearing Stone Island tomorrow, though, remains as unpredictable as it always has been.
THE BEST-DRESSED MEN IN THE WORLD 2020
and 'the dressing room's zug' favorites:
1. david beckham
After some hiccups in the noughties, this decade has seen David Beckham full morph into a seasoned master of menswear and 2019 was testament to Goldenballs’ consistency with (to our knowledge) not one foot put out of place.
We’ve had an endless roster of complementary haircuts and the odd addition to an already sizeable collection of tattoos, and as always Mr Beckham came up smelling of roses. For us Beckham was at his best this year at Wimbledon and it’s no exaggeration to say that all other attendees paled in comparison. But he also excelled – as he always does – in smarter casuals like suede bombers and envelope-pushing tailoring from Dior. He’s still got it.
2. mahershala ali
When Mahershala Ali won his second Oscar at the 2019 awards ceremony, he accepted the gong wearing what is best described as a formal beanie. The fact that he looked elegant and not ridiculous as he did so will tell you plenty about how well this man can dress.
In a year when he also headlined True Detective and landed the role of Blade in the MCU, his style has been all about quiet swagger. He looks as sharp in double denim as he does in red-carpet tailoring, but it’s the latter that got us rubbernecking this year. With micron-accurate cuts, interesting colours and offbeat accessories, he proved that the suit is still a long way from dead.
3. zac efron
Zac Efron’s hair had almost as big a year as the man himself. Rocking a shocking white bleach at the start of the year (and somehow pulling it off), Efron had our attention long before his role as serial killer Ted Bundy got everyone talking.
When you’re this annoyingly good-looking, you can afford to take risks with your style, but what we like about the way Efron dresses is that it’s not at all try-hard. He leans on classics like denim jackets, shearling coats and slim-fit two-pieces. There’s a lot of experimentation in menswear right now, and that’s great, but here’s a reminder that for a lot of guys, the old ones are still the best.
4. donald glover
As one of the world’s most successful multi-hyphenated people, ever, it’s no surprise that Donald Glover’s wardrobe defies neat categorisation, reason or logic. On paper, Glover’s eye-poppingly bold patterned suits, mad flourishes and penchant for going shirtless under tailoring sound like things that render him ineligible for a best dressed man list, but here we are (again) finding ourselves nodding in approval of Glover’s so mad it’s good wardrobe.
5. shawn mendes
What had you done by 21? Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes has had himself three US number-one albums by the age, and all while crafting himself a piece-perfect modern rock and roll style that pays its dues to the past while still feeling fresh today.
Tailoring embellished with ritzy touches are his forte – finished off with a pair of Chelsea boots and rock star bling – while Parisian brands Saint Laurent and The Kooples are among his favourite brands, each possessing the slim-fitting monochrome style that has turned the squeaky clean pop idol into one of menswear’s coolest figures.
6. pierce brosnan
To say that Pierce Brosnan (at 66 years of age) was having some sort of second wind would be inaccurate, truth be told he’s been consistently stylish since anyone can remember. Highlights this year include mastering classic suiting, proving that suede bombers look perfectly at home on those past the flushes of youth and making sunglasses worn almost anywhere feel not a jot ostentatious, just achingly cool.
Oh and then there’s the expertly styled shock of silver hair which only adds to Brosnan’s timeless appeal. All in all (another) vintage year for the man formerly known as Bond.
7. dylan sprouse
It’s a sweet life Dylan Sprouse leads. Not only has the former Disney child star bagged himself a Victoria’s Secret Angel and the sort of bone structure people go under the scalpel for, but he’s also got one of the finest wardrobes around to boot.
Luxurious knits, chunky leather jackets, electric tailoring – everything screams expensive and well done. Cut also plays a key part – not too slim so as to accentuate his slender frame – it’s a wider fit that harks back to a classier time. He might only be a hot young thing in Hollywood right now, but he’s dressing like a legend.
8. timothée chalamet
The fandom is real with Timothée Chalamet. From 60-year-old Ohio mums to teenagers in Korea, there’s something about the Hollywood A-lister that incites frenzy. For some it’s the passionate acting, for others, it’s the cherubic locks. Both are great, but what’s caught our eye the most is his boundary-pushing approach to red carpet dressing.
A muse for high fashion genius Haider Ackermann, the designer has pushed the actor into all manner of space-age tailoring this year, while the star was among the first to sport the infamous Louis Vuitton holster. Sure, both, would look an absolute train wreck on 99.9 percent of men, but they look out-of-this-world on Chalamet. And more importantly, they offer a small glimpse into what men could be wearing ten years from now. Bejewelled holsters at the ready.
9. harry styles
Harry Styles is best known for his soft-rock sounds and Jagger-esque dance moves, but in recent years the ex-Directioner has also established himself as one of the best-dressed men in the music industry.
Out of the boy-band bubble, these days his wardrobe reflects the switch from pop puppet to viable frontman, with a slew of coloured suits, crushed velvet textures and plenty of IDGAF swag. You can’t bribe the door on your way into a Gucci campaign, you know.
10. michael b jordan
Our best-dressed man of 2020 carried his form throughout this year without breaking stride or tweaking the formula (why would you?). The Michael B Jordan winning combo includes fine tonal tailoring and easy-to-copy streetwear looks. No wonder luxury label Coach bagged him as the face.
But here’s something that’s not as easy to steal from the Creed star: he seems to have a Mary Poppins-style bag storing an endless collection of incredible coats.