School of Fashion Conversation Series: Ideas from Massimo Osti

By: Stephanie Kornblum, Fashion Publishing,  @stephkornblum

On Wednesday, September 6th I attended the School of Fashion Conversation Series: Ideas from Massimo Osti, discussion at the Tishman Auditorium in the West Village. The leaders of the discussion were Simon Collins, Dean of the School of Fashion, Nick Sullivan, Fashion Director of Esquire and Daniela Facchinato Osti, Massimo’s widow. The conversation was to discuss the late Massimo Osti and his impact on urban sportswear.

To be perfectly honest, before receiving the invitation to this discussion I had never heard of Massimo Osti. Osti is from a small city in northern Italy called Bologna. He was originally a graphic designer, but began his career in the fashion industry in the early 1970’s when he designed his first T-shirt collection “Ciomp Ciomp,” featuring placed prints such as silkscreen – which at the time was only used on paper. Massimo Osti was, “apart from it [Italian fashion], but parallel to it,” claimed Daniela. Meaning that when Osti was starting, designers such as Versace and Armani were the norm for Italian fashion– but then came Massimo.  Osti was a completely different type of fashion designer, possibly because of Osti’s obsession with functionality over fashion. Osti’s wearable and handy design aesthetic quickly made him loved by footballers, fashion editors and students – especially in London.  He was more focused on developing innovative fabrics such as rubber wool and an insanely popular material effect that allowed the fabric to change color when different temperatures were applied to it called the Ice Jacket.

As Nick Sullivan said, “Massimo Osti reinvented military clothing” possibly inspired by post-war Italy in the 1960’s. Daniela discussed how in Bologna in 1968 the fashion consisted of re-worn army clothes simply because it was cheap. The students wanted to dress differently than how their parents did – and Osti offered that ironic ability to rebel against the war, the government and the older generation with his futuristic (yet wearable) garments.

I believe that designers today have a lot that they can learn from Massimo Osti. Osti designed clothing based upon what he thought people might need as opposed to what was trending at the time. In times like these, with a recession in the United States and worldwide economic woes, more customers might be inclined to pick up a multi-function fashion item as opposed to pair of $2,000 taxi cab-yellow, snakeskin platform pumps…