C.P. Company is an Italian fashion brand founded in 1974 in Ravarino, initially as Chester Perry Company, with its own retail stores.
Under the brand name C.P. Company, upscale casual clothing in the upper mid-price segment is offered for men and children, and until 2010 also for women. The brand is internationally known for functional fashion design and the use of unconventional high-tech materials. Together with its sister brand Stone Island, which was launched in 1982, C.P. Company initially belonged to C.P. Company SpA and since 1993 to the Italian Sportswear Company SpA. At the beginning of 2010, the C.P. Company brand was bought by the Italian FGF Industry SpA and at the end of 2015 it was taken over by the Chinese textile manufacturer Tristate Holding Ltd.
Italian commercial graphic designer Massimo Osti (b. 6 June 1944 in Baricella (Bologna); † 6 June 2005 in Bologna) had begun decorating casual clothing in the late 1960s using processes originally developed for paper printing. In 1974 he named his company, newly formed in Ravarino with a T-shirt manufacturer, Chester Perry. The company name derives from a British comic strip by Frank Dickens, also published in Italy, whose protagonist Bristow works in a factory called Chester Perry. In 1978, partly because of threatened litigation due to similarity of names with Fred Perry and Chester Barrie (British men’s tailor), the company was renamed the C.P. Company. Osti made a name for himself in the sportswear industry through experimental dyeing techniques, unconventional material treatments, and innovative fabric developments from unrelated industries such as aerospace and medical technology. His menswear collections followed the guiding principle of “form follows function”, and he often sought his inspiration in the world of functional workwear and per se practical military uniforms.
In 1978, an infant collection called C.P. Baby was added, and in the early 1980s, Osti launched the sportier, lower-priced secondary line Boneville (1981) and the progressive secondary line Stone Island (1982, originally and until the late 1980s: Stone Island Marina), in addition to the more dignified main collection C.P. Company. Osti borrowed the name ‘Boneville’ from the Triumph manufacturer’s motorcycle of the same name. Osti had experimented with truck covers, canvas and nylon, and the stonewash technique, and came across a reversible, two-tone fabric (Tela Stella), from which he created the first low-run Stone Island collection, which sold out immediately. The name Stone Island, originally suggested by Osti’s wife Daniela as “isola di pietra” (meaning ‘stone island’), was meant to symbolize the freedom of an island and the indestructibility of stone. The compass, which Osti – himself an enthusiastic sailor and sportsman – had attached to the outside of his clothes on fabric labels (the so-called ‘badges’), stood for the open sea and the constant search for the new. Osti was considered a pioneer of piece dyeing (tinto in capo) from 1973 onwards, in which the final stage of the process involves dyeing the garments that have already been completed, often made up of different materials, rather than dyeing the fabrics or individual threads at the start of the process. Osti also took advantage of the stonewash method. While C.P. Company embodied understated, smart fashion in neutral colours, the more colourful, fashionable and slightly lower-priced – albeit high-priced – Stone Island collection was Osti’s platform for experimentation, for which he also procured industrial machines made especially for him.
In 1983 Osti sold his 50% share in the C.P. Company, which he owned together with the textile manufacturer Trabaldo Togna from Biella, to the GFT Group, an Italian textile and licensed fashion manufacturer, but remained chief designer. Osti wanted to concentrate on design and let others take care of the business side. The magazine C.P. Magazine, which was sold on newsstands and basically functioned as a collection catalogue, was launched in 1985.
New, sometimes futuristic, product developments of this time and the following years, which were often accompanied by patents, were cotton covered with a (wafer-thin) rubber layer on one side (Stone Island Raso Ray Parka, 1983), wool(Stone Island Rubber Wool Parka, 1986) or flax to create waterproofness, as well as a fabric material that changed color after being treated with quartz through heat(Stone Island Ice Jacket, 1985), fabric material infused with steel threads, or the combination of linen, cotton, and rubber(C.P. Company Linien Mix Jacket, 1987) and the processing of glass particles in the outer material(Stone Island Reflective Jacket, 1989). In 1988, in honour of the Mille Miglia Cup, he presented the 1000-Miglia Goggle Jacket for C.P. Company, with a pair of goggles integrated into the hood and a round ‘peep-glass’ in the sleeve at wrist level for viewing the wristwatch. From 1987 to 1991 there was also the high-priced C.P. Collection, which was revived for a short time in 1994. Despite the huge commercial success, the introverted Osti always remained in the background as a designer because he wanted the functionality, innovation and aesthetics of his fashion to appeal to the target audience rather than the personality of the designer. He saw himself more as a product designer than a fashion designer.
From the mid-1980s onwards, Stone Island in particular, but also C.P. Company, became popular brands in the, mainly English, football scene, despite or perhaps because of their high sales prices. As a result, the company had to struggle with the image of being a ‘hooligan brand’, even though this fact drove up sales figures in the UK.
In 1989, Carlo Rivetti, son of the GFT owner, was appointed managing director of C.P. Company SpA. Within the GFT group, C.P. Company SpA, and with it the C.P. Company and Stone Island brands, became part of the group-owned Sportswear Company SpA. In 1991, GFT acquired the remaining 50% of C.P. Company SpA from Trabaldo Togna. In February 1991, a C.P. Company retail store was opened in New York’s Flatiron Building (closed again in 1996), an investment said to have cost $2 million. When GFT wanted to sell C.P. Company SpA in 1993, Carlo Rivetti and his sister Cristina, with their company Rivetex, took over Sportswear Company SpA. Osti left C.P. Company in 1993 to pursue other projects. Away from fashion, he was elected to the Bologna City Council in 1989 and 1992, for example. His design successor was the fashion designer Romeo Gigli. Osti continued to work as a designer for Stone Island for a short time. However, the Stone Island collection summer 1995 was the last designed by Osti. The Boneville collection was discontinued. Over the years Osti had built up an archive of 50,000 fabric samples and garments. Osti subsequently continued, among other things, the Massimo Osti Studio (founded in 1994 as Massimo Osti Production ), which his son Lorenzo took over after the death of his father, who had cancer, and continues to run today. In the 1990s, the C.P. Company undersixteen children’s collection was launched. In 1994, the C.P. Company Donna women’s line was added to the portfolio. Since 1995, the company has had a contract with a Korean licensee who operates its own C.P. Company boutiques in Korea.
Italian designer Moreno Ferrari took over the creative direction of the C.P. Company collections and English designer Paul Harvey, who had also co-designed the Boneville collection, was responsible for Stone Island. Following Osti’s functional innovations, Ferrari developed the Urban Protection concept for C.P. Company from 1998 onwards: jackets with integrated smog masks(Metropolis), noise protection (Life) and safety alarms(Munch) or goggles (Goggle Jacket); jackets and vests that contained a foldable aluminium scooter (Move), a flashlight (Solo) or a dictaphone(R.E.M.). From 2000, the Transformables project was presented with vests and jackets that could be converted into inflatable rescue cushions, armchairs or air mattresses, or rain capes that became tents.
In 1999, after Milan (flagship store) and St. Tropez (small concept store), Sportswear Company opened a third store of its own for C.P. Company and Stone Island in London’s Soho district (flagship store). In 2000, Sportswear Company employed 113 people and achieved sales of around DM 100 million. Italy and Great Britain represented the company’s main sales markets, followed by Germany, Japan and the USA.
In 2001, Alessandro Pungetti was hired as a menswear designer at C.P. Company. For Stone Island, the slightly lower-priced Stone Island Denims collection was created in the same year (discontinued for the Fall/Winter 2009 season). In 2006, the children’s collection Stone Island Junior was presented. Sportswear Company sales in 2006 were €57 million, of which 75% were generated abroad. In 2007, Sportswear Company sales were around €62 million. In 2008, online shops were launched for the C.P. Company and Stone Island brands on their respective homepages with the help of the Italian internet retailer Yoox. Harvey left Stone Island in 2008, and since then a design team led by designer Gionata Malagodi, who had already been responsible for Stone Island design between 1994 and 1998 (initially together with Osti), has taken care of the collections. The turnover in 2008 was 62 million €. In 2009, the Stone Island brand accounted for 60% of total sales (split into: 70% Stone Island, 22% Stone Island Denim, 8% Stone Island Junior), C.P. Company generated 40% of total revenues (split into: 80% C.P. Company (men’s), 12% C.P. Company Donna (women’s), 8% C.P. Company undersixteen). The women’s collection was subsequently narrowed. Also in 2009, a German sales subsidiary of the Sportswear Company was established in the Fashion Mall Munich and the Scotsman Wallace Faulds, a former designer for Burberry and John Galliano, was appointed creative director for C.P. Company by Rivetti.
In early 2010, Rivetti sold the C.P. Company brand to Italian entrepreneur Enzo Fusco and his company FGF Industry SpA in Montegaldo (Padua) after sales slumped, in order to be able to fully concentrate on the Stone Island brand and its expansion, especially in Germany. Since 2001 FGF Industry owns the exclusive license and distribution rights for the fashion division Blauer. USA of the US uniform manufacturer Blauer and, since 2012, the distribution license for the fashion brand Ten C. The new designer for C.P. Company was initially Fucso himself. The 2011 summer collection under new management was presented in June 2010 in Florence at the Pitti Uomo fashion fair with a focus on classics from past C.P. Company collections. Women’s fashion was discontinued – with the option of bringing it back into the range at a later date. Since the end of 2012, Italian Alessandro Pungetti and British Paul Harvey, former C.P. Company and Stone Island designers, have been acting as creative directors for C.P. Company. German distribution was managed by a Düsseldorf agency. In 2013, a C.P. Company boutique was opened in London, not far from the London Palladium, which is the only one still in existence today.
In November 2015, C.P. Company was acquired by Hong Kong-based Chinese textile manufacturer Tristate Holding Ltd. for €19.2 million. The sale of FGF to Tristate was masterminded by Massimo Osti’s son, Lorenzo Osti, who holds a 5% minority stake in the new C.P. Company and was hired as marketing director. The designers Pungetti and Harvey were acquired. C.P. Company’s 2014 sales were 9 million euros, 80% of which were generated outside Italy. In spring 2018, C.P. Company collaborated with adidas Originals and presented a collection of clothing and footwear in the signature style of the two brands. The CEO of Tristate Holding, Peter Wang, promoted Lorenzo Osti to Chairman of the Board of Directors (‘president’) of C.P. Company in spring 2019.
In addition to the C.P. Company flagship boutique in London, FGF Industry operated so-called FGF Stores for its corporate brands in Milan, Roma, Padua, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Olbia, San Teodoro (Sardinia) and Senigallia in the 2010s, where the C.P. Company collections were also offered. These stores were eventually transformed into Blauer.USA boutiques
Under the direction of Tristate, C.P. Company retail stores are operated in Milan (since 2019), London, Amsterdam (since 2020) and Beijing (2×); shops-in-shop exist in luxury department stores in Paris and Osaka. The C.P. Company stores in Korea continue to exist.
C.P. Company and Stone Island are still considered the most technologically advanced sportswear fashion labels in the industry.
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