The everlasting magic of the Stone Island compass patch
Recently, I did that thing where you share a picture from years back on Facebook.
On many – alright, all – levels this was unacceptable: I should have been down the bookies or enjoying one of Mr RedTube’s excellent erotic videos. But this is the modern world and if you’re looking for affirmation, Facebook’s where you turn.
And I’m always looking for affirmation.
Anyway, the photo was of me in front of a jacuzzi on a cruise liner (stay with me, people), looking quite the scally James Bond in my ‘Lewis Collins from The Professionals’ sunglasses and a dark blue, zip-up Stone Island top.
And it was the top, and specifically the badge – *that* badge – that got the most attention. When you wear ‘Stoney’ that badge is an instant signifier. It says to those who know: “I’ve got Stone Island on, and, while its clothes are top notch, I once had a stand-off with 12 Stoke on the concourse at Euston.”
A few years back, some SI wearers started taking the badge off, leaving the two buttons the patch is attached to exposed. This not only allowed original fans to separate themselves from the mob who’d tarnished the brand, but also – and this is the important bit – still demonstrated that they were wearing Stone Island (while pretending not to wear Stone Island). It ticked every box.
But recently, I’ve started putting the patch back on.
Why? I’m not a hooligan, I last had a fight in 1982 (I was 10, I lost) and in every other aspect, dress quite conservatively.
Because that badge, with its green compass in the centre, is an integral part of the garment that hosts it. As someone said to me in a pub garden recently, “It’s not about the jumper, mate, it’s about the patch and how it makes me feel.”
Without doubt, Stone Island has produced some of the best menswear of the last 30 years – clothes that look as good on an Italian pensioner going to dinner in Milan as they do on some grime MC on the way to his first gig in Forest Gate. The brand is unmistakably masculine and as futuristic as fashion can get without verging into glittery-jumpsuit territory. As Carlo Rivetti, the company’s MD told Umbrella magazine:
“Stone Island is about research, experimentation, function and use. It’s a sportswear brand that carries on an ongoing investigation, through and without frontiers, on the processing and ennobling of fibres and textiles, leading to the discovery of materials and production techniques never used before in clothing.
We also study uniforms and workwear. Our archive is very a strong point of reference. I believe that our insatiable curiosity and the continuous sounding of the present and the tension towards possible future scenarios are the conditions for Stone Island’s continuous evolution. We always look forward.”
When you wear the patch, you’re wearing all that brand history. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Humans like to put themselves in tribes, and British men, specifically British men who like clothes, are no different. We like to say we’re individuals, but actually, we’re anything but.
Your new Lacoste polo might be in a snazzy colour, but it still falls into the parameters of what’s accepted as ‘good taste’ or ‘trendy’. As Julian Dunkerton, MD of Superdry said, “I make clothes for blokes to wear to the pub on Friday night: and no one likes to be laughed at in the pub.”
Stone Island – apart from the “not sure I can justify this to the missus” price tag – is the same. The badge denotes membership of a group, and, like it or not, if you’ve already bought into the brand, you’re part of the tribe.
So, don’t be shy, wear your patch with pride. It’s a lot more interesting than walking round with what looks like two randomly-placed buttons on your arm. Just don’t get involved with Stoke on the concourse with Euston this Saturday – we’re all a bit old for that.
Words: Anthony Teasdale