Iceberg is arguably not a name you hear as often as you once did. And that’s a shame. The 40-year-old Milanese brand was founded back in 1974, but we reckon the label's ripe for a comeback.
Iceberg was intended as a luxurious sportswear label by its two vivacious designers Giuliana Marchini and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac – both of whom have a penchant for the loud and irreverent post-modernism of pop art. Iceberg took that mischievousness and blended it with the resplendent lifestyle of its Italian Riviera Romagnola origins, located on the southern European country’s Adriatic coastline. However, its true cult status, like many Italian labels of the time, began when it started being worn by people younger than who it was originally aimed at.
Now the label, although never really having gone away, has managed to shake up the scene once again with an on-point menswear collection for FW16. As ever, we like to keep you au faix with what’s up, so here’s five reasons why you need to fill your rotation out with a bit of European streetwear heritage from Iceberg. Trust us, with this label, it’ll feel like you’ve invested in a piece of wearable art.
Iceberg has real streetwear pedigree
Iceberg was founded in 1974 by Giuliana Marchini and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac who wanted to inject the luxurious sportswear market with a bit of trademark Italian fun and irreverence. They built a brand based around their iconic knitwear designs, the humorous appropriation of cartoon motifs (infamously repurposing Mickey Mouse’s face, for example), and their use of loud, vivid color.
It became a key label of the Paninaro youth scene in 1980s northern Italy, while at the same time being picked up by English football supporting lads as they toured Europe with their teams. Its place as a key heritage label of the casual scene in '80s and '90s England is probably why it ended up with the brandy 'n' coke brigade, appearing in the wardrobes of UK Garage ravers around the turn of the Millennium.
Across the Pond, Iceberg was rooted in the hip-hop world of the '90s, with it popping up in lyrics up until a few years ago. Jay Z, for example, peppered his lyrics with references ("I dipped in the stash, splurged on a chain / Now I’m Titanic, Iceberg’s the name" – which you’ll find in 'Jigga My N***a').
It's got an insanely talented creative director
Upcoming designer James Long has been making a name for himself through his own eponymous line since at least 2009, with momentum gathering following his LC:M showcase around SS14 back in 2013. Iceberg’s FW16 collection marks the designer’s first full collection for the brand, and it feels right – somewhere between the exquisite silly sharpness of Italian fashion at its best, with the boundary-pushing adventurousness that we’ve come to expect from the fashion scene of Long's native London.
Iceberg is Italian
Not only is it Italian, it’s also made in Italy, with Iceberg’s headquarters located at Cattolica – the seaport town just outside of San Marino on the Adriatic coast. Aside from that, Iceberg epitomizes that effortless yet fun and kinda-slightly-crazy Italian level of coolness, all of which just seems equally easy as it is breezy and sun-kissed. Its involvement as a brand of the aforementioned Paninaro streetwear scene of the '80s (all centering around a pizza shop in Milan) has trickled down to today. Major hallmarks of the scene’s aesthetic – rolled up denim jeans and white socks, sneakers and oversized shirting, vivid or washed-out color blocking, the championing of large brand motifs or pop cultural iconography – has became a seminal look of modern on-point, casual street fashion. It still informs streetwear to this day thanks to the allure and longevity of similar brands of the era: think Stone Island, Moschino, Versace, Armani, and Gucci – all belong in the same luxe streetwear pot as Iceberg, except maybe Iceberg does it better…
Iceberg doesn’t take itself too seriously
Sometimes the fashion scene can feel a little too serious, even when it’s not trying to be. The irony that’s at the core of streetwear in particular sometimes feels to have been lost, particularly when you see the seriousness that some people approach the ridiculous phenomenon of hype merch.
The 40-year-old Milanese brand, by contrast, was founded by the two designers who each had a penchant for the loud irreverence of pop art. Starting out back in 1974 as a luxurious sportswear label, by the 1980s Iceberg was including art legend Andy Warhol in its advertising. Today, artists like Rita Ackermann and Olaf Breuning champion the label. Not surprisingly, Iceberg gives off an allure of the art world: as if answering the question of whether an artist was ever to design a streetwear collection, what that might conceivably look and feel like. Similarly, one of the brand’s most easily identifiable motifs became a detached and jagged profile of Mickey Mouse – a design recreated by Long for his FW16 collection.
Iceberg's FW16 menswear collection is actually sick
Iceberg’s FW16 menswear collection marked the first offering from the brand’s new CD for menswear, James Long. The London-based designer debuted a reinvigorated logo that reworked the brand’s signature colors into a new modernist-meets-angular triangular insignia. This, together with the principle color palette, gave a strong military vibe across the entire runway collection. Thick ribbed knitting and athletic cotton jersey rubbed up against outwear that came straight out of the textbook of American military functional wearables: leather flight jackets with shearling collars; satin bombers; patched, full-pocket jackets with the label’s colors striped in bands across the arm; and full, luscious-looking parkas.
In terms of color palette, if it deviates from monochrome, cargo greens and deep, dark indigoes serve as the base, while dazzle camouflage appears on cargo pant bottoms, and color is blocked across jackets and tops. Other color pops and accents come easily through the green, yellow, red and indigo of the brand insignia that is then repurposed in striped bands across arms and mid-riffs. Added to that, you have track suits and sportswear which nods to Iceberg's Italian streetwear roots, while some of the layering and accessories across tops and bottoms hint at Long’s own London stylistic influences.