The term “collaboration” has lost its meaning over the past few years. What once meant the meeting of two (or more) creative minds producing something unique and otherwise unattainable has since become a tale of adding logos to pre-existing designs.
Well, this is most certainly the case for the majority of the fashion industry, but C.P. Company — the iconic Italian label founded by the late Massimo Osti — is one of the few major labels ensuring its partnerships have purpose.
“We’ve built our heritage on two main pillars: product innovation and cultural relevance,” Lorenzo Osti, C.P. president and son of Massimo, tells Highsnobiety.
“For us, these two elements have to be present in all of C.P. Company’s collaborations. We are happy to collaborate with brands that are culturally relevant for the specific audiences that we would like to connect to,” he adds.
Of course, filling the boots of Massimo — a man who also founded Stone Island and is often referred to as the father of European streetwear — can’t be easy, but since Lorenzo took up the position of brand president in 2015 C.P. has excelled, and in particular its collaborations.
The brand’s selective approach to partnerships is working well. After teaming up with Clarks Originals for a capsule (which sold out almost instantaneously) back in June, the label ended 2022 with a collection alongside serial collaborators Palace.
And despite the London label’s “more-is-more” approach to collaborating being the polar opposite of C.P.’s, Osti admits that it’s certainly something that’s working for Palace.
“I love their spirit: ironic, but with substance. They have been able to collaborate with a series of very different brands without ever losing their identity,” he says. “Palace is highly respected within the skate subculture, which is an audience who is adopting C.P. more and more, so it made sense.”
For their debut collaboration which landed mid-December, the pair presented a collection of archival C.P. Company pieces reworked through Palace’s tongue-in-cheek lens.
From Duffel and Shell Goggle Jackets, to bombers and lambswool sweaters, the collection undoubtedly resonated with both the C.P. and Palace audience, as did the pair’s surprise three-way footwear collaboration with Diemme that arrived simultaneously.
It may sound easy for a design team to have its way with a celebrated archive, but Osti explains while C.P. is open to collaborations, it has to retain some control.
“We always start with a walk in the archive, because it’s the best way for the other brands to know more about C.P. Company and get inspired,” he says.
“That being said, navigating the archive is not as easy as it may look, it’s big enough to get lost and lose focus. We tend to assist our partners in this exploration, and also in the design process, listening to their ideas and supporting them in creating innovative products.”
Alongside Palace and Clarks, C.P.’s collaborative roster has featured the likes of adidas SPEZIAL, Armani, and Patta over the years, three brands that intrinsically fit the Italian label’s mold of traditional designs that stand the test of time.
Naturally, Osti is aware just how important collaborations are in today’s market but his aim, above all else, is to uphold his late father’s legacy.
“All he [Massimo Osti] wanted was to pursue innovation — he wanted to create something that wasn’t there yet, and this is what we keep doing today!”
Osti was naturally reluctant to hint at what’s to come from C.P. in 2023 and beyond but, if the brand’s outlook on collaborative processes remains as organic as it is today, more exciting times are inevitable. Of course, that’s no surprise when there’s an Osti involved.