Photo: Birmingham at Home original art by me. Watercolour and oils
Yes. We have all owned one probably. It’s also had us dragged out of a crowd on more than one occasion and had that Cop following you with his beady eye in the steady moving snake of the away fans going to the game. The convoy of half pissed football fan in enemy territory. Eye catching stuff but the quality and the beauty of the ubiquitous ‘Stoney’ is a thing. It’s a cultural meme all by itself a least here in the UK. A working class garment, one for saying ‘hey yeah 400 quid on a coat’ thing. Mad isn’t it? Imagine explaining to your Grandparents that you paid that much for a ‘coot’.
Way back in 1992-3 of course it was rare to find a decent Stone Island coat any where. Of course they were needed pretty much. The space age fabrics, the collar that zipped right up to your mush, the omnipresent badge. It was waterproof sometimes. Often the zip would give up. The badge would fall of during goal limbs. But it was an artwork not just an item of clothing. It was a cultural artefact in a very short time at least in the UK. Previously I had only seen it worn by skiers and snowboarders from Europe. Dudes and women who were quite happy to shellac four hundred squids on a thin over-jacket with layers underneath provided by yourself. Being one who also frequented the occasional football match I was happy to cast an eye over the garments. It was rough at Huddersfield on a grey wet Saturday evening trudging to the station. You wanted something to keep out the fingers of cold rain and the wind, that North Sea easterly one which would creep up your back and make the whole day full of COLD wank. The four hour journey back home on an unheated crowded train. You wanted a bit of peace see, the hangover was kicking in, dehydrated, in a bad fucking mood, the ‘beefburger’ you ate outside the ground coating your mouth and throat with a thick layer of indigestible fat. You wanted that badge then as you lean against the carriage walls giving everybody the stink eye. You wanted the badge because it kind of informed everybody you didn’t mind the occasional whack in the mush or giving them out. The badge was an exclusion zone.
Of course shelling out 400 large for a Stoney is a thing that’s pretty much out of the loop when you think a 16-20 year old football fan who actually engages in the occasional running across dual carriageways waving his arms around is a poor broke bastard. They are expensive things. I remember one mate who had travelled to Italy skiing and brought a strange 800 quid Stoney coat that had zips everywhere and was bright yellow. It was horrible, he looked like a fisherman on a mackerel boat. We were playing Liverpool back when we were in the premier league. He had a little bounce around outside the ground and then was instantly nicked. Bright yellow for Gods sake.
If you’re NOT going to bounce around waving your arms at a line of cops holding back a group of angry Scousers then perhaps it would have been a good thing to buy. The materials Stone Island use now will be the benchmark of materials in common all garden leisure coats in 3-4 years time. The research that goes into these things is an art in itself. The materials are dynamic, novel and new. They reflect light, can be laser etched, can be manipulated into a variety of styles and uses. The simple Monad of the brand silhouette is pure. The Monad is ‘dynamism’ and ‘diversity’ it makes challenging forays into materials that are highly technical, they are tech specific often and evolve fast. Of course to us it all seems a little twee and weird when you talk about a new seasons Stoney. But unwrapping it is a thing indeed. They always smell like a Stoney to me. The garment has an aura about it even before you put it on. The stitching is often straight as a die. Perfect spacing between the stitches and few loose threads. The lining is unruffled and square, the build quality on point and sharp. Put it on and you feel sharp too. The hood actually fits over your massive meathead. The collar zipped up only lets your eyes be seen. That Stone Island stare. You bop around in your bedroom scowling at the mirror.
It’s only a laugh though. New materials, new designs, the dynamism of the things, the absolute newness and novelty does indeed make you catch your breath. These are art pieces. They should really be in a museum so we can look at them up close without being closely followed by a smelly renta goon in a high end clothing shop. That’s cool man, you want to try it on and even touch the thing with your greasy dick hands but no. Just look. You can’t splurge that much money on a bloody coat. But it’s not just that for me. I am a massive fan of dystopian fiction. I see those great urban mega cities of the future keenly. I see the populations of those places wearing these garments. You have to be a little dystopian to buy one for sure but you’re still buying into a meme pretty much, maybe you don’t care. You do actually announce to the world out there that you can blast four figures on a bloody coat. People will regard you as a successful kind of dude or a doughnut for buying one. You can’t win either way, it’s the Stone Island dichotomy.
Will the Stoney be here to stay? In a football fan sense? I’m not sure. We are a pretty stick in the mud lot. There were some people that dragged the Donkey Jacket as match wear right into the late 80’s particularly in the North. But I think it may be time to put it away and get some style back in the wardrobe. I’m not going to wax about ‘The casual scene’ because I’m not qualified to do it. Years ago I remember the whole casual thing. I remember if you wore the MA1 jacket, the tight Levis, the Adidas Stan Smiths, the Ski Jumper, you were going to get nicked. Put yourself in a group of twenty lads all dressed the same and you would have a Fed wagon following you, you couldn’t get a drink in the pubs etc. It didn’t take much to realise if you walked around looking like that then the chances are your day would be either shit or shit.
But man, we work don’t we, in those dark places, we work with stuff that cakes your clothes and hair, sticks in your skin and on your hands. You get home and you have a wash, a shower, get some suds going, get that crap off you then it’s nearly 8 O’Clock and you want to chill out, get your comfy crap on. Get on the settee or your favourite chair before you nod off to the gentle refrain of dog farts and the discordant wailing of X Factor your missus loves. Then it’s bed and next morning the same shitty clothes with the holes and the stains. So yeah I can see that Saturday is a time to put some fresh stuff on. Those Stan Smiths you keep hyper clean, the nice shirt, the expensive coat. I don’t think it’s a cultural thing but I suspect it’s just a change of what you are about. Maybe the fact that everybody else is wearing the same shit makes you feel a bit more inclusive in the whole day. Maybe it’s just because you want to own something that yeah, it did cost a lot of money and no I can’t really afford it but it makes me feel like I belong to something. Makes you feel like yourself for just a day before being dragged around a shopping centre or Tesco on a Sunday, maybe the Hollybush where you will look at shit you don’t need, look at the fish in their tanks bubbling away. Maybe we feel like those fish sometimes trapped between panes of glass being fed the same bullshit over and over again. Does it give us an ‘identity’ who knows. It certainly provokes a few feelings.
I like Stone Island stuff, I’m all about the dynamic and the materials, the sexiness of Italian design. They build Ferraris for fucks sake, their women are beautiful. Walk around Milan and you will see the vast majority of people walking around look good, smart, sexy, stylish. We want a bit of that, a bit of style, a chance to forget about the building site or the fucking Bilston shithole we work in where we never see the daylight in Winter. I suppose that’s why we like the bright colours too but it’s not ‘Peacocking’ really, it’s just being and feeling a little different. When I have some cash I may indeed purchase one again, put some colour and style back in the whole thing scowling at people, looking dodgy, because it’s a laugh.
Here’s a poem I did for a Poetry competition a few years ago. It didn’t get any where so I just kept it on my hard drive, but hey, have a look.
Lost On Stone Island
It’s the rain gear you see the pain gear the old fashioned clip around the ear. the smashed knuckle the flying buckle the endless slap of a fucking Adidas shoe. senseless and lost under the overpass above and beyond the simple click of an interface the glare of a meeting on the internet.
the flags you flew the weed you grew the sucking fucking need to connect. still we laugh and gather round stand your ground. ‘I’ll defend this land that ‘aint mine till I die’ . the coppers of course will kick you in the back stop you dead in your tracks and you tell them on the side of the road ‘I’m lost on Stone Island mate’ but you haven’t got a chance mate, don’t push mush. we can’t run any more for the truncheon will put you in the road and you can’t hit ’em back as you’ll be laying at their feet in the van, then a ban.
this about the people of pain the youth with no name its easy to run through the door to dance like a psycho but we all wait and sing the songs lost on Stone island
but the running feet the need to clench the utter bloody violence of it that eases the day through
and we force another rancid pint down your throat another endless song to sing and we sweat on the chance to just sit back and enjoy the dance of the running dead
fire it up lads in hold it together the gloved pantomime and the stink of fed leather
the way we were and the way we weren’t all the songs jumbled into the way we learned but underfoot is greasy and the moves were never easy and the fat cunt dances and we took our chances lost on fucking stone island mate and we sit take stock answer the phones never enter the DayGlo shit fest of the pay day loans they never asked to play stuck in the world and never say
and the heat of it always dissipates you know and you can stand tall for just a minute happy in the delusional state as you dance and gesticulate the finer points you make the slapping the piss the iron Mike kiss
but we are all lost as you leave them on the ground the poor cunt won’t move and he doesn’t make a sound. Locked up on stone island mate and there’s no way off it just grin and make the best of it as there’s another sickly pint to force down another endless fucking round another shitty football ground a raging wall of sound and that grinding pain at the back of your head that says ‘your abandoned on Stone island mate’ but they can fuck off of course, it’s right we never had the chance to be anything different as the chances are always forced. The weakest a better chance to sing and the anger you had directed, inspected and rested. Laid at your feet with the corridors of school and culture is always for fucking fools. It’s all you had the warehouse and the foolish dad the beer stained national flag the diatribes and hateful words shot through with bloodied snot and the slap of slippery Adidas
trapped on Stone Island mate, abandoned on it and it’s always our own fault