My history, my company by Carlo Rivetti
My family has deep roots in the clothing sector. In the 19th century Giuseppe Rivetti – son of Giovanni Battista, the first carding machine operator in the Italian textile industry – carrying on the passion of his father, started to secretly sell cows from the family’s farm to purchase looms. In 1872 he founded his own wool mill: “Giuseppe Rivetti e Figli”, that later merged with the Turin-based group GFT (Gruppo Finanziario Tessile). It was then that my uncle Pinot had the brilliant idea to rubberise the fabrics from the mills, to make them more high-performance. My father Silvio, who also shared this propensity for research, left for the United States immediately after the war where he came across Palm Beach Incorporated, which made a product that didn’t exist yet in Europe: ready-to-wear clothing from theoretical measurements (what we now call sizes). He was amazed. He worked there for six months and when he returned home, he convinced his brothers to give up their shares in the mills to acquire all of GFT. In the early ‘50s, GFT literally measured more than 25,000 Italians, which allowed them to dress practically the entire nation, for the first time, with non-tailored clothing.
The oil crisis of 1973 brought on a severe but rapid recession, and they realised that something had to be done to recover sales. It was then that my cousin, Marco Rivetti, noticed a French couturier working in a women’s outerwear company we had bought the year before. He designed and perfected garments, took them to Paris to sell and then had them produced. This man was named Emanuel Ungaro. This is how we understood that to relaunch the sector, we needed to add a fundamental ingredient to clothing: fashion. GFT soon became the licensee of the rising stars in Italian fashion, including Giorgio Armani and Valentino. The success of Made-in-Italy ready-to-wear was the result of the ability to combine entrepreneurial skills and creativity. I joined GFT in 1975. Towards the end of the decade I had the idea to open a new frontier within the group, to generate something unrelated to time: sportswear. In the early ‘80s, I discovered C.P. Company, an extremely cutting-edge and innovative business in that field. In 1983 we gained 50% and then the entirety of the company. My adventure began from there. In 1993 I left GFT and purchased, with my sister Cristina, 100% of the company that is now called Sportswear Company.
It was in 1983 that I met Massimo Osti, who one year earlier, almost by chance, gave life to Stone Island. A special fabric arrived at the company: a canvas with a different colour on each side, used to make tarps for trucks. The effect was really interesting, but it didn’t match the style of the company’s collections. It was decided that a special collection of only seven jackets would be made from the Tela Stella fabric. The reference to military style was very strong with the famous badge inspired by military ranks and insignia. The compass symbolised a love for the sea and constant research. The success confirmed that Stone Island wasn’t only interesting and sellable, but also true to the ethos of casualwear. The collection was inspired by military uniforms and workwear, accompanied by endless textile research.
When Massimo left in the mid-90s and we parted ways, I found myself with the difficult task of searching for someone to design for Stone Island. In 1994, exploring the pavilions of a trade fair in Munich, I came across the work of designer Paul Harvey, an Englishman who lived in Italy, in Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna. I was overcome by a strange feeling of familiarity that led me to exclaim: “This is the 21st-century Stone!”. In 1996, Paul and I launched the second season of our brand. Paul designed 24 collections, always consistent with the evolution and research that has forever distinguished Stone Island. An amazing character: after graduating from Central Saint Martins in London, he decided that the fashion world wasn’t for him and became a truck driver! It was only after marrying a wonderful Italian woman that he moved to Italy and started to design clothing. His approach to design was full of functionality; this led him to perfectly interpret Stone Island, masterfully bringing the brand into the new century.
After 12 wonderful years together, Paul felt the need to leave the world of fashion to “do something for the planet”. In the face of such a noble ambition, I could only understand and accept his choice. In that moment, faced with another crucial decision, I came to the conclusion that the era of “one man in charge” was over. Times had changed. It was necessary to be multicultural to be truly modern. So, I created a design team. I realised that in this era you can only deal with all aspects of the world with more brains and different visions: and that is Stone Island from 2008 onwards.
I feel like the coach. I choose who to send out onto the field depending on the game we have to play: we need to be more sensitive, faster, more ready to detect signs of strength and weakness. Consequently, we need people who travel the world and look at it from different points of view: people of different ages and cultural backgrounds
At the end of 2019, I met Remo Ruffini. We talked about the ’80s, the “paninari”, our beginnings and our love for our respective companies. We immediately got along. We didn’t see each other for months afterwards, we were both busy with facing the social, humanitarian and economic crisis of the pandemic. We talked again in September 2020 and quickly decided to join forces to face the challenges ahead united and stronger.
Stone Island and Moncler have common roots, similar entrepreneurial paths and we both share the utmost respect for the deep values of the two brands and for the people who work with us.
Thus begins a great new chapter for Stone Island.
Stone Island is unique, respected for its vision of product research and experimentation, always linked to functionality. It is an iconic brand with a strong DNA. The people who work for Stone Island are passionate and that passion is transmitted to our followers and customers, now for almost 40 years.
This, in short, is my history. I like to think that there is a common thread that connects us all. A desire for continuous research and experimentation, with a bit of healthy madness, that special something that makes Stone Island much more than a clothing brand.