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Stone Island: The Artisans of Ice & Fire

Mon 04 Dec 23
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Since the inception of Stone Island, founder Massimo Osti imbued it with his passion for exploring materials and fabric treatments.

His first ever collection in 1982 showcased the use of Tela Stella, military-grade tarpaulin so stiff it required intensive stone washes to render it wearable. The result, however, was an efficient material, ideal for durable, long-lasting outerwear.

From that moment, the brand has been dedicated to navigating the fabric compass and mastering the art of innovative design, becoming one of the top players in the game.

One of the label’s most memorable science experiments occurred with the early application of thermosensitive technology, giving birth to the first Ice Jacket in 1987.

 

Whilst not an entirely new concept (flashback to when mood rings were a thing), temperature reactive clothing was basically unheard of at the time.

Osti’s team crafted the jacket with a nylon outer layer coated with a special resin containing thermosensitive molecules. The molecules rotate, allowing different flows of light depending on temperature.

Above 15 degrees Celsius, the jacket assumed one colour; as the temperature dropped, a new hue emerged.

This would make a unique addition to anyone’s collection, but it wasn’t just a fun gimmick - Stone Island isn’t the type to compromise on quality, focusing first and foremost on functionality and structural integrity.

The success of the resin coating let to the introduction of more finishes, colours, and styles. Moving beyond simpler canvas finishes, the brand explored shinier and matte textures, as well as printed designs, such as the 2010 padded Stone Island jacket in camouflage (not to mention the Supreme x Stone Island 2022 camouflage series).

 

AW17

Stone Island model wearing the double knit technology sweater

Fast forward to Autumn/Winter 2017, Stone Island ventured beyond jackets with the introduction of a sweatshirt.

Constructed using double knit technology, the outer face winds together thermosensitive yarn, whilst the inner layer is pure wool for added comfort.

Available in three colourways, I could see these being problematic if you’re prone to perspiration; on the upside, it can be a great excuse for some tactile interaction with your crush.

 

AW18

Stone Island model wearing the FW18 Ice Jacket in leather

The Autumn/Winter 2018 collection witnessed a significant addition to the family—the Ice Jacket reimagined in leather. A fickle material to work with, Stone Island collaborated with ECCO LEATHER and The Dyneema® Project to manipulate the leather and make it durable.

They bonded it to non-fabric composite containing one of the strongest fibres in the world.

They ended up with a texture that looks a bit like crinkled paper, and during the colour changing process those creased features really stand out to create a modern yet rugged effect.  

 

AW23

The latest Stone Island Ice Jackets from the AW23 collection. The left jacket is in the pink colourway, whilst the right jacket is in rust and orange.

The latest offering, the Autumn/Winter 23 Poly Strata Ice Jacket in Pink and Stucco or Rust Orange and Brown, represents a subtle evolution from the brand's initial Ice jacket.

Utilizing two layers of bonded polyurethane, the outer shell reacts to temperature changes thanks to micro-encapsulated reactive pigments.

Whether you choose the sleeveless puffer vest or the long-sleeve two-in one jacket, every piece shows Stone Island’s expertise in taking military styles from the past and recontextualising them under an ultra-modern lens.

These models never quite gained the same traction as their cold counterparts (maybe because their name isn’t as cool), nonetheless, no discussion of ice jackets is complete without acknowledging their heat-reactive cousins.

Operating on parallel technology but requiring a higher temperature for the change to occur, these pieces made their debut in Spring/Summer 2011 with a hooded bomber jacket in cotton nylon canvas.

You get the gist by now: above 27 degrees Celsius the jacket’s dark pigment morphed into a lighter green, returning to the original when cooled down.

 

SS19

Stone Island model wearing a jacket from the Spring/Summer 2019 Printed Heat Reactive Thermosensitive Fabric capsule

Last year another hooded jacket in blue and orange dropped, but let’s skip to the more eye-catching Spring/Summer 2019 Printed Heat Reactive Thermosensitive Fabric capsule - two matching sets of jackets and trousers, everything was covered in a mesmerizing blue and red print that resembled a sort of thermal map. 

As the temperature shifted, the colours and patterns transformed, giving unique imagery every time.

While other brands, like Acne Studios and Lacoste, have adopted similar technology, you just can’t find the same array of products and level of sophistication that Stone Island provides.

Each release of the thermosensitive ranges showcases a rise in sophistication, both in design and technological refinement.

The colour shifting designs fit seamlessly with the brand’s minimal, polished aesthetic without being too showy.

Osti’s pursuit of innovation is an enduring part of the brand, and Carlo Rivetti respects this legacy in his own role as creative director.

I’m sure he will continue to push the boundaries of temperature reactive clothing – we’ve seen two-toned pieces and a few patterns, but surely there is a whole realm of imagery, colour scales and patterns to tap into! Best leave it to the experts...

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