MILAN — Stone Island has signed a two-year global partnership with Frieze, which signals a new chapter for the Italian brand and is expected to further heighten its visibility.

The partnership will begin with Frieze London 2023, taking place Oct. 11-15 in The Regent’s Park. It will also mark the 20th anniversary of one of the world’s most influential art fairs.

“Traditionally, in presenting itself, Stone Island chose backdrops that were never pure fashion,” chief executive officer Robert Triefus told WWD. He cited, for example, the drop of Stone Island’s Series 07 of its Prototype Research collection of garments during Milan’s international design and furniture trade show Salone del Mobile last April.

“Stone Island likes to do things differently from the mainstream. We share so many values with Frieze and what it stands for; it is very connected to our spirit, it is a positive association. Stone Island is built on a community and creative energy inspired by research and innovation, characteristics that define the Focus section of Frieze’s art fairs, as well as the Frieze 91 global membership program,” said Triefus.

In fact, the partnership extends to Frieze 91, which provides access with a global calendar of curated experiences, as well as members-only content and benefits, and Stone Island has also signed on to become the official partner of Focus, offering each of the participating galleries a grant, equivalent of up to 30 percent of each exhibitor’s stand fee.

The support, combined with Frieze’s existing subsidies for the section, will aid the chosen emerging galleries in Focus, each founded 12 years ago or less, to participate in the fair. Stone Island will also amplify visibility with a dedicated content series about Focus and its participating galleries, made in collaboration with Frieze Studios, its in-house creative team.

The Focus section is a crucial component of Frieze, said Triefus, and Stone Island will contribute to help emerging galleries from around the world to participate, “breaking into the art scene, which is dominated by huge art galleries.” Emerging galleries and artists will dedicate their Focus booth to the work of a single artist.

The Focus section takes place at all of Frieze’s contemporary art fairs in London, Los Angeles, New York and Seoul. Triefus highlighted the importance of the global stance of Frieze and these four cities “for cultural and urban relevance,” and for contributing to Stone Island’s connection with its own communities and reaching out to other, new communities.

Stone Island has a loyal customer fan base developed over its 41-year history. Consolidating this community, made up of “musicians, sportspeople, creatives and artists,” while also expanding it and creating new experiences is key, according to the executive. “Stone Island is quite unique as it does have the ability to connect with different communities,” he said. “This is an exciting moment, and we want to be engaging very organically, expand our reach in a more visible way, and be more proactive in the expression of the brand, its legacy and what it stands for.”

Triefus said that chairman Carlo Rivetti has succeeded in maintaining Stone Island as “authentic,” and that it was “easier to bring visibility to a brand that has a clear road map and points of reference.”

Rivetti joined Stone Island in 1983 — a year after Massimo Osti founded the company in Ravarino, near Modena — by acquiring 50 percent of the firm. A decade later, Rivetti and his sister Cristina bought the remaining 50 percent.

Moncler acquired 70 percent of Sportswear Company SpA, owner of the Stone Island brand, in 2020, before taking full control of the firm the following year.

Triefus, previously CEO of Gucci Vault and Metaverse Ventures and senior executive vice president, corporate and brand strategy at the Italian luxury brand, joined Stone Island on June 1.  He is building a team that now includes chief marketing officer Oliver Cooke, who has developed his career at Giorgio Armani, Burberry and most recently JW Anderson.

Simon Fox, CEO of Frieze, said Stone Island’s role “underscores our shared commitment to supporting young galleries and their artists, and to showcasing them at our fairs alongside the world’s leading galleries.”

This year’s Focus at Frieze London has 34 participating galleries from 18 countries, including presentations by Larry Achiampong (Copperfield, London), Débora Delmar (Llano, Mexico City) and Jordan Strafer (Heidi, Berlin and Hot Wheels, Athens).  

To mark the 20th anniversary of Frieze London, Stone Island and Frieze will cohost a celebration at the Koko club in Camden on Oct. 12 to celebrate two decades of London’s creative landscape, with DJ sets from artists Haroon Mirza, Andrew Pierre Hart, Mark Leckey and Rabz Lansiquot.

As reported, Stone Island staged an archival exhibition running Sept. 5-9 during the second edition of the Frieze Seoul international art fair and Seoul Fashion Week

Held at the Layer 41 Studio location, the “Selected Works_Seoul ‘982-‘023: The Stone Island Archive” show was billed as the largest installation the brand has ever staged in Asia, with a focus on the high-tech research on fibers and textiles and innovation in product design it is known for.

Featuring more than 70 key pieces, tracing back to the first collection developed for spring 1982, the exhibition in Seoul focused on groupings of work such as the Pure Metal Shell jackets, the Prototype Research_Series, as well as the brand’s continuing experimentation with both Ice Jackets and reflective materials and the Tela Stella cape hailing from the first Stone Island collection for spring 1982 and inspired by military truck tarpaulins, among others.

In July, Moncler Group chairman and CEO Remo Ruffini, commenting on the group’s first-half revenues, which for the first time in that period surpassed the 1 billion euro mark, said “at Stone Island, we have just started the second chapter of the evolution of this unique brand under the leadership of the newly appointed CEO.”

Ruffini described Stone Island as “an amazing brand very close to our mentality and vision,” and that after an initial control of its distribution, the second phase will focus on the direct-to-consumer channel, “changing the culture in the company, a most difficult” step, and also on raising the brand in “a more premium world” with new stores. “We have very clear ideas and we are very optimistic that we can develop this journey in two or three years.”

Revenues of Stone Island amounted to 201.6 million euros in the half, up 4 percent compared with the same period of 2022. As of June 30, Stone Island had 74 directly operated stores, an increase of three units compared to the end of March, and 19 monobrand wholesale stores.

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