Massimo Osti – The History Behind The Innovation

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Born and raised in Bologna, Italy in 1944, Massimo Osti was a groundbreaking garment engineer and fashion designer directly responsible for brands such as Stone Island, CP Company and the inspiration behind many more.

Osti humbly began his career in the fashion industry in 1968 as an advertising graphic designer. It was at this point where he designed the t-shirt graphics for the brand ‘Chomp Chomp’. He used new techniques such as four colour process and silk-screen to create a placed-print based collection. Two years go by and following the success of the t-shirt line, Osti founded OM Diffusion S.R.L. this would make way for the first collection of a new brand, Chester Perry.

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Chester Perry was named after the imaginary company in which ‘Bristow’ works, a long-time protagonist of a Frank Dickins comic strip. In the following years, Osti quickly managed to establish Chester Perry as a new force within the Italian fashion scene, even creating the first urban down jacket in ’74.

In ’75 the brand began to establish itself in overseas locations, in particular, Germany. The gradual success was enough for British brands Fred Perry and Chester Barrie to take notice and join forces in expressing their dismay. Eventually, in 1978, Osti was forced to change the company name to what we know it as today, CP Company.

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The brand’s trajectory continued to skyrocket as Massimo persisted to experiment with different materials and the process of garment dyeing. In 1981 he produced his first collection of a new brand ‘Boneville’. Unfortunately, disaster struck not long after when a fire destroyed a geodesic dome in which CP had called home since 79′ destroying a lot of the archives and product ready to be delivered.

 However, that didn’t slow Massimo down. Osti continued his research on finishing techniques and material manipulation and in 1982 launched a new project, Stone Island.

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The first Stone Island collection was designed entirely from a new fabric, Tela Stella, which was inspired by the technical characteristics of military truck tarps. Created by stone washing, the garments had a distinguished ‘used’ look that complimented the bright and contrasting colours used by Osti. The collection was initially so popular that it sold out of every stocked location in only 10 days.

In 1985 Massimo relinquished 50% of his shares in the company to Carlo Rivetti. He still remained the company president and alongside his team, he dedicated himself to the technical product development both CP & Stone Island are famed for today.

Massimo’s relentless experimentation continued on and in 87′ he introduced the new materials “Rubber Flax” & “Rubber Wool” into CP’s collection. By coating wool with rubber Osti was able to keep the elasticity and resiliency of the wool but add resistance to harsh weather conditions. Rubber flax was similar to its wool counterpart but instead more lightweight suiting it to multiple seasons. 1987 also gave way to the first “Ice Jacket” in the Stone Island collection. Made from heat-sensitive fabrics the Ice Jacket was able to change colour completely by variation in temperature, a technique still used in modern Stone Island collections.

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(Ideas From Massimo Osti, Dimani 2016)

In 1988 CP Company were given the opportunity to sponsor the Millie Miglia, an open road motorsport endurance race. Meanwhile, Osti being the creative he was had been studying protective hoods worn by the Japanese Civil Defence and grew eager to experiment sewing lenses into the fabric. Following further research of Swiss field jackets, the idea to have a wrist lens to allow the wearer to view their watch was implemented alongside having lenses in the hood. It is often speculated the jacket was designed specifically for the event but this wasn’t the case, it was only after accepting the sponsorship offer that Osti realised how fitting the jacket was and from this point, the iconic Millie Miglia jacket was born.

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1991 marked a momentous occasion as CP Company opened up the doors to its first USA store in New York’s historic Flat Iron Building. Massimo described his first steps into the store as “like being on the set of blade runner” because of the eclectic mix of past and present. On the Stone Island front 91′ saw the creation of another Stone Island staple, “The Reflective Jacket”. The reflective jacket was a manufacturing triumph as it saw a waterproof fabric combined with a thin layer of thousands of glass microspheres. These microspheres were able to reflect even the dimmest of light sources creating an astonishing effect not seen before in clothing.

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(Ideas From Massimo Osti, Dimani 2016)

After many years in 1992, Massimo sold his shares and terminated his duties within CP Company S.P.A. Shortly after Osti creates the brand, “Left Hand”. The brand was characterised by non-woven fabric made from a nylon and polyester blend which could be used alongside the technique of raw-edge stitching. The brand also used a material called Thermojoint which boasts total water resistance and interestingly enough an 80% resistance to nuclear radiation.

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((Ideas From Massimo Osti, Dimani 2016) )

Shortly after the creation of Left Hand Massimo founded the “Massimo Osti Production” a company based on 20 years worth of research, experience and technical innovation. In 96′ he began a collaboration with Superga, an Italian company specialising in quality and affordable footwear and worked with them on an image-defining collection of garments. Just two years later in 1998, Massimo would design the Massimo Osti Collection for a new company, OM Project. OM Project clothing was characterised by Osti’s signature use of experimental techniques and innovative fabrics featuring such interesting concepts as “Mag Defender” – a polyester and carbon fibre weave that projects its wearer from magnetic fields and “Steel” – a nylon canvas twisted with woven cotton and stainless steel making it very tough to cut or tear.

One of Osti’s final projects was the “ICD Line”. The ICD line was a collaboration with well known American clothing manufacturer, Levis. Offering an abundance of technical outerwear garments, the ICD+ was the first world’s first use of wearable technology as tech giants, Phillips offered their services in equipping the garments with cell phones, mp3 players and headphones.

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(Ideas From Massimo Osti, Dimani 2016)

Unfortunately in 2005 after two years of battling lung cancer, Massimo Osti passed away in his home on the hills over Bologna surrounded by his family. Osti’s legacy continues in the brands he left behind and the innovation and techniques surrounding them. Brands like MA.strum began as a partnership in 2008 with the Massimo Osti Archive and credit Osti for the inspiration behind the brand.

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Tucked away in the houses of Bologna, The Massimo Osti Archive also exists as a physical embodiment of the man’s brilliance. Housing over 5,000 garments & 50,000 fabric samples and ran by his children, Agata and Lorenzo the archive stands as a mesmerising tribute to Massimo Osti’s life work.

Jacket Required Presents x The Massimo Osti Archive from Jacket Required on Vimeo.

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