TELA STELLA AND THE BIRTH OF STONE ISLAND
Since its inception in 1982, Stone Island has been consistently pushing the boundaries of contemporary menswear. In particular, the brand's Tela Stella fabric defined the brand, the name and the badge.
The Stone Island 30 Exhibition Website states:
The fabric that started everything. Born out of the study of the technical and functional characteristics of military truck tarpaulins, Tela Stella is a cotton canvas impregnated on both sides with special pigmented resin in contrasting colours. The finished garment then undergoes an extended enzyme wash in order to give it a faded look and to break down the density of the material.
In this article, we delve into the story behind Stone Island's Tela Stella fabric and explore some of the brand's most sought-after Tela Stella items.
We will take you on a virtual journey through Stone Island's iconic Tela Stella items, highlighting standout pieces like the iconic Spring Summer 1982 lines or the 30th Anniversary Collection.
Whether you're a die-hard Paninaro or simply appreciate high-quality, functional clothing, this article will offer insights into the legacy of the Tela Stella fabric and its enduring appeal within the fashion world.
MASSIMO OSTI, TELA STELLA AND STONE ISLAND
Stone Island's Tela Stella fabric has a rich history and dates back to its inception. Inspired by the functionality and durability of military garments, the founder of Stone Island, Massimo Osti, set out to create a fabric that could withstand the harshest of conditions while still maintaining a stylish aesthetic. The fabric was birthed before the brand Stone Island. Birthed before the famous Stone Island Badge.
It all began with the conception of the new fabric that Massimo Osti had created, inspired by the tarpaulins used on military trucks. This was a heavy almost skin like material that felt oily to the touch. Naturally, Osti wished to put this new innovation to use, however, he struggled to place it within C.P. Company’s collections at the time. Given this, he independently constructed a small seven-jacket collection, one example of which is shown below.
HOW TELA STELLA INSPIRED THE STONE ISLAND BRAND
It was indeed the fabric that inspired the brand name Stone Island itself.
Osti’s new brand firstly required a name that could capture its strong military/maritime inspired look. For this he looked to the unlikely source of Joseph Conrad, a Polish-British novelist. Many will be familiar with his, at times brutal, exploration of the human psyche through the feature film Apocalypse Now (1979) which was loosely based on Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness (1899). Joseph Conrad himself, orphaned and emigrated to the UK, had actually served as a merchant marine.On his travels, Conrad cultivated inspiration for the books using his own experience of perseverance as inspiration.
Osti felt something about the novels themselves could capture the marine look behind the new Tela Stella fabric, as well as invoking the themes of function, travel and purpose that could resonate with the garment’s wearer.
Osti charged his wife, Daniella, to read the English versions of the novels and pick out words that resonated with his vision for what the brand would come to represent. From the underlined words, Massimo picked out ‘stone’ and ‘island’. Stone, because of the function of his new material. Island, for his own affiliation with the adventures of the sea.
ICONIC TELA STELLA ITEMS IN THE STONE ISLAND COLLECTION
AW1982 Stone Island Tela Stella Smock
This item heralds from Stone Island's first collection and is a very rare collector's piece.
Robsrack, a Stone Island collector and seller comments:
There’s nothing special about the purchase of this item unfortunately, it popped up on an online marketplace and I made a deal with the seller who was located in Italy. I always knew the item existed but never thought I’d own it, only seeing it in the Archivo book. It cost an arm and a leg but, it’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Having gone from dreaming of owning anything Stone Island related when I was 16 to now owning the 1982 Tela Stella Smock and even having the pleasure of meeting Lorenzo Osti whilst wearing it, gives me a sense of accomplishment and great happiness!
AW2012 Stone Island 30th Anniversary Tela Stella Smock
Source: TRUSS's Archive
2012 saw a faithful re-edition of the first Stone Island collection released in 1982. The original Tela Stella material was developed by Massimo Osti himself and was inspired by the technical characteristics of army trucks tarpaulin cloths. The cotton canvas is injected with contrasting pigment special resins. A long lasting enzyme wash then achieves a faded aesthetic.
1982 Stone Island Tela Stella Smock
This is a true Massimo Osti piece released in the first year of Stone Island. A fleece gilet with Tela Stella details throughout, chunky Lampo zips & removable hood. Also features hand stitched badge with very unique centre placement.
1983 Stone Island Tela Stella Isola Di Pietra Jacket
This is an iconic cut of Stone Island history. At a time when the Stone Island Badge placement was being experimented with regularly. This Jacket features faded reflective motifs as well as buckle fastenings over the Lampo Zip.
But, what does Stone Island Isola Di Pietra mean? Isola Di Pietra translates to Island of Stone and is accented to some of Stone Island's earlier production. Possibly so the Italian consumer could understand the name of the brand without a basic understanding of English.
THE DURABILITY AND LONGEVITY OF TELA STELLA FABRIC
One of the key benefits of Tela Stella fabric is its exceptional durability. This almost goes without saying given the fact that many pieces have lasted decades and can still be worn today.
The tightly woven cotton, combined with the garment dyeing process, creates a fabric that can withstand the rigours of daily wear and tear and even be enhanced visually by the distressing and character the pieces gain over time.
CONCLUSION: THE ENDURING LEGACY OF STONE ISLAND & TELA STELLA
Stone Island's Tela Stella fabric has carved out a lasting legacy within the fashion industry. Whilst Stone Island only reserve the fabric for special productions, at the time of its creation it represented an innovative, utilitarian approach to fashion. An approach now replicated by brands like Arc'teryx or Prada Sport. Stone Island was first and Tela Stella was even earlier.