Forty years. That's how long Stone Island has been researching, experimenting, and shifting the landscape of sportswear.
Many fans, both casual and dedicated, often share the sentiment that Stone Island's design teams are best described as scientists instead of fashion designers, and in review of everything that they've conceptualized and realized in the last four decades, I'm inclined to agree.
Nestled in the depths of the middle ground that exists between military and sportswear, forty years of material and dye research and development have created an outerwear archive second to none.
This cave of wonders, which many long to explore, boasts some of the most exciting fabrications and dye treatments you'll find in any corner of the industry. While there's no lack of innovation or excitement, SI's use of reflective materials demands constant attention.
Although there's nothing particularly new about reflective finishes – which Stone Island first implemented through research on functional workwear in AW91 and once again for the popular Marina line for SS92 – they continue to stun. There's something inescapably loveable about a product that boasts aesthetic beauty not only during the day but in the darkest of nights.
Within a brand catalog that strives to push boundaries, you'll find efforts that continually exceed expectations, highlighting how far the possibilities of these types of pieces can be stretched. In a bid to discover and divulge some of the best, most groundbreaking, loved, and attention-worthy pieces ever created, we've taken a trip down the rabbit hole of Stone Island's reflective outerwear ahead of new additions for FW22.
LIQUID REFLECTIVE – AW11
Perhaps one of the most iconic pieces within the extensive Stone Island archive, the Liquid Reflective jacket is an unmissable piece. If you've ever had the joy of feasting your eyes on one in person, you'll understand why it's so desirable and considered a top-tier grail by many.
Given the age of the piece, you're unlikely to find one in perfect condition; however, the natural wear of the fabric and finishes give it a raw quality that ages perfectly. Most you'll come across will have a cracked surface that shows under light, creating a surface that looks like it's been excavated long in the future.
The creative process of the Liquid Reflective utilizes an exclusive fabric coated with thousands of glass microspheres. The finished garment is individually hand-sprayed and oven dried; as a result, each is unique from the next while possessing water and wind resistance.
Much like the Ice Jacket, this piece served as a precursor, leading future developments for reflective outerwear.
REFLECTIVE CAMOUFLAGE – AW12
Capitalizing on the strength of AW11's reflective option by maintaining the shape and silhouette of the jacket, AW12's Reflective Camouflage combined two areas in which the brand has excelled over the years. Obviously, no military is about to step into the field in camo that bounces light back at you – you'd be a huge walking target – but the jacket is a street classic.
Blue coloring was once again chosen as the jacket's foundation, due to the dazzling effect it gives off when combined with the glass microspheres. The drop did include an alternative color option, which combined white and grey for a blank slate camouflage that made just as big of a statement in normal light, as it did when it was reflecting.
MESH REFLECTIVE – AW13
The Mesh Reflective puffer jacket has been a personal grail from the moment I first set eyes on it. Although not as daring as other jackets featured in this list, there's something beautiful about its simplicity and the intensity of its reflective finish.
Creating the jacket's rich depth is achieved using an outer run-proof mesh which provides three-dimensional effects and magnifies the refractive features of the historical 1991 Reflective Jacket. Thanks to the coating of the reflective material, enriched with thousands of glass microspheres, the jacket boasts a functional edge with water and wind resistance.
Something that you'll notice if you get your hands on one of these jackets, is the scratchy surface texture of the fabric, similar to holographic bookmarks and other trinkets. If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself lost in the moment, fidgeting away.
HIDDEN REFLECTIVE – AW15
AW15's Hidden Reflective Puffer Jacket has to be, hands down, one of the best puffer jackets Stone Island has ever created. Everything about this piece is worthy of praise – the military-inspired detailing that makes it such a standout, the matte black surface that keeps the reflective finish hidden, and the dystopian cracked green response to light.
Sitting in my personal top three SI pieces of all time, every time I've had to pleasure of eyeballing one of these in person, I've been blown away.
Functional thanks to both water and wind resistance created by the polyester fabric and its glass microsphere coating, the jacket's opaque black plating hides the refraction of the material (hence its name), which intensifies with age and wear.
Fine down lining maintains warmth, bolstered by a sheepskin overcollar, snap-fasted chin strap, and finished with large bellow chest pockets and adjustable side nylon straps. Oh, and it comes as a vest, too.
PROTOTYPE RESEARCH_SERIES 01 LASERING ON LIQUID REFLECTIVE BASE – AW16
Stone Island's Prototype Research Series is arguably the most exciting element of the brand. When the first in the series was unveiled in 2016, showcasing the extent of the design team's religious research and development loyal fans were sent into a frenzy.
Outside of season deliveries, everything that went on behind closed doors at Stone Island HQ, was largely kept under wraps. Now, for the first time, there would be an opportunity to buy into the parts of the brand that are far too intricate and experimental to reach mass production.
For this first iteration, a long anorak was produced using a custom-made fabric that is highly reflective thanks to a resin coating embedding thousands of glass microspheres.
Each piece is hand-sprayed with a resin-based color and oven dried, resulting in an almost gold, rust-like hue. Once the jacket has been washed and dried, it's individually laser treated, creating a unique honeycomb-like graphic pattern across every corner of the garment. Once light touches the piece, the rich qualities of its processing come to life.
GARMENT DYED PLATED REFLECTIVE WITH MUSSOLA GOMMATA – SS17
I vividly remember when these lightweight jackets were released in 2017. Outside of Stone Island expertise, 3M reflective outerwear was having a big moment, and everyone was chasing the next big piece.
Brands across the board were trying their hand at creating a neck-snapper of their own, and while there were a handful of successes, the cheap quality that many led with couldn't level the years of research and development that call SI home.
Unlike some of the previous entries that either came in a single color or two alternate variations (typically white/black and blue), the Plated Reflective with Mussola Gommata arrived in a handful of contrasting colors.
Each jacket possessed a silver technical fabric base, while the inner lining, stitching, and oversized chest pocket were dipped green, pink, red, black, and orange.
SHADOW PROJECT SCARABEO DOWN PARKA – AW18
Filtering its way into the Stone Island family in 2008, Shadow Project is like the brand's edgier mirror from a dystopian future. In its decade (and some change) of operating, it's built a striking apparel arsenal that's continually led by a function-first attitude.
Thanks to the Midas touch of ACRONYM's Errolson Hugh, Shadow Project has been designated home for experimentation with no boundaries, and in that, it's succeeded time and time again.
As 2018 marked ten years of Shadow Project, the design team went above and beyond to make it a memorable one – and its reflective pieces were certainly that.
The Scarebeo Down Parka switched out the traditional white glow of Stone Island's reflective items for an iridescent medley of color and pattern, creating one of the brand's biggest statements of all time.
SHADOW PROJECT SCARABEO REFLECTIVE PULLOVER SMOCK – AW18
2018's Shadow Project Pullover Smock is equally as neck-snapping as its Parka variation, making it just as deserving of a position on this list.
So, how were these jackets crafted? SCAEABEO, a polyester-based fabric, fuses dazzling iridescent reflectivity with an original printed motif. The light reflective element is applied to the jacket via a glass bead surface coating, with the graphic pattern applied after the fact.
REFLECTIVE WEAVE RIPSTOP-TC – FW19
Reflective items within the Stone Island arsenal typically tend to be statement pieces. By nature, something activated by light, seen in both daylight and darkness, demands attention.
However, you will find the odd piece of outerwear that is not only reflective but tastefully subtle.
FW22 promises reflective outerwear of this nature, as seen within the collection's hero images. If these aren't quite up to your standard, the FW19's efforts are worthy of exploration.
Reflective Weave Ripstop-TC made up several items within the FW19 collection, including two jacket variations, pants, hats, and bags. Creating these products takes twisted cotton nylon ripstop woven with a thin, highly reflective tape that forms an intricate, grid-like pattern.
REFLECTIVE GRID ON LAMY-TC – SS22
As seasons progressed, the number of reflective garments within each drop increased significantly. Instead of singular pieces, finishes were expressed across several colorways of the same garment, resulting in collections that could possess up to eight product options.
This is true to SS21, where the Reflective Grid on Lamy-TC arrived as a hooded jacket and cape.
Each of these pieces is a real head-turner thanks to the application of a reflective print across the semitransparent hyperlight Lamy Nylon Tela surface.
If a festival statement is what you're seeking, this is the kind of product where SI excels.