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Stone Island's journey from 80s football casuals to today's hip hop megastars

The Italian brand's also starred in the garage and grime scenes

  • Words: Lewis Munro | Photos: Andre Vasiljev
  • 11 August 2017

Stone Island has been the go-to brand for countless subcultures over the past 30 years. Archie Maher is one of the UK’s most ardent collectors and the man supplying Stone Island to the stars through his Arco Maher archive.

Why did you start collecting Stone Island pieces?

I always had a mad interest in fashion from a young age and clocked Stone Island when I was about 15 or 16. Their designs are so compelling and there’s an incredible diversity of colour palettes, materials and shapes. I first splashed out on a gorgeous striped marina T-shirt from the 1988 collection from eBay. The more I learned about the history of the brand the more I wanted it all! It spiralled from there and at uni I was buying and selling it and got the idea of trying to start an archive.

How many pieces do you have?

Upwards of 250 pieces now, and it’s still growing. The dream is to have an archive with 1,000 pieces in it!

Stone Island doesn’t come cheap. How have you managed to amass such a large collection?

It was important to delve into the history of the brand and study the designers and their body of work. Once I’d done that I quickly learned which pieces are the most desirable and what sells well.

Where do you find the rarer pieces?

I’ve invested a lot of time building connections with people around the world who share my passion. That said, I’ve found some of my most unique pieces in the strangest spots, from a Texan flea market to a small Ukrainian town. If you ask any collector how they acquire their pieces they’ll usually say it’s down to a lot of frantic searching and exhausting every single link out there.

On top of being a collector, you’ve created a platform which showcases pieces from your collection through collaborations with stylists and photographers. How did that come about?

Once I had around twenty to thirty pieces I did a shoot with a couple of friends and the feedback was really positive.

It’s been heavily associated with football casual culture, but what do any other subcultures identify with the brand?

One of the first real subcultures to take the brand to heart was the Paninaro movement. The Paninaro were a group of Milanese middle- and upper-class youths known for riding mopeds around the centre of Milan from café to café. They’d wear Stone Island and CP Company alongside brands like Moncler and Versace. I guess they were kind of similar to today’s ‘hypebeasts’. Then you’d see the Stone Island badge crop up a lot in the grime and garage scene of the early 2000s. And now it’s being embraced by some of the world’s biggest hip hop stars.

How do you feel about the greater exposure the brand’s getting through affiliation with Drake?

There’s definitely a massive divide between Stone Island fanatics who think this is a good or a bad thing. For [Stone Island owner] Carlo Rivetti and his teams perspective they must be delighted to be opening stores in LA and New York thanks to Drake jumping on the brand. I don’t think the likes of Drake, Travis Scott and Lil Yachty wearing the brand should be seen as a negative.

Although you’re loyal to the brand, what other labels are you rocking at the moment?

Of course, I can’t leave my yard unless I’m draped in Stone Island, but I also really like Maharishi, a brand that makes environmentally sound utilitarian clothing, and a brand called Craig Green that make beautiful jackets and vests. And recently I’ve really got into a German brand called A Kind of Guise. I’ve copped quite a few of their summer shirts recently.

Full credits
Photos: Andre Vasiljev
Stylist: Charlotte Moss
MUA: Emma Regan
Hair: Monnie Kaur
Model: Helene Selam Kleih

Curated by Archie Maher - Check out more from the archive via Arco Maher.

Lewis Munro is Mixmag's Online Fashion Editor - follow him on Twitter for regular fashion and chicken shop updates.


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