Sportswear’s origin story began with a modern approach to fashion centered on casual functionality – and menswear brands such as Italian born C.P. Company pressed forward to deliver the desired balance of craftsmanship, textile technology, and style for the sector, which resulted in longevity and a nostalgic, connoisseurial appreciation for its product.
This year, C.P. Company celebrates its 50th Anniversary, which the brand says is due in part to its success in “five decades of innovation.” And since its beginnings in 1971, the brand has continuously stepped up its game by doing just that: creating “firsts” in the Italian sportswear category.
For C.P. Company, that means expertise in technical fabric research and dyeing techniques, which the brand forged forward in Italian sportswear.
Lorenzo Osti, president at C.P. Company, told WWD, “While the technique of artisanal garment-dyeing has long existed, [founder] Massimo Osti and his collaborators were the first to dye garments made from multiple fabrics or fiber types, and to transform this into an industrial process.”
Fifty years later, and C.P. Company is still leading and innovating in the space, as the brand releases new custom materials every season. But its “50 Fili” material remains a fan favorite, as it has the soft hand of cotton but doubles down with impressive technical function and nylon-strength resistance.
And in celebration of its milestone, the brand will release a special item each month throughout 2021, developed internally or in collaboration with other brands, as well as community initiatives and homages to the brand’s anniversary. “Each product will represent a part of the brand’s DNA and a step in the development of Italian sportswear, an entirely new genre of clothing pioneered by the brand.”
The result will be a complete wardrobe, the brand said, inclusive of apparel, mementos, toys, books, and posters “to frame the narrative” of C.P. Company’s milestone.
Here, Osti talks to WWD about the brand’s pivotal role in sportswear and continued investment in research and innovation as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary milestone.
WWD Studios: Tell us about C.P. Company. What is the story behind
Lorenzo Osti: My father, Massimo Osti, was a graphic designer when he founded the brand Chester Perry in 1971. The name was taken from Bristow, the famous British comic strip about a buying clerk who works in the Chester-Perry building.
Driven by his know-how as a graphic designer, his early works were mainly silkscreen-printed T-shirts. Progressively, he extended his attitude toward innovation and hybridization bringing it to the next level by beginning to mix classic menswear styles with innovative fabrics to create previously unseen amalgams.
In 1978, he changed the name in C.P. Company, keeping the initials, and began a narrative that became an integral part of the history of sportswear.
WWD Studios: How is C.P. Company differentiated in the sportswear market?
L.O.: We continue doing what we have been doing for the past 50 years: pioneering a connoisseur’s hybrid style that combines the functionality of vintage military, workwear and sportswear with intense fabric research and innovation, heightened by using garment dyeing, a technique that is part of C.P. Company’s DNA. This hybridization of functional menswear and Italian fabric innovation is the origin of C.P. Company and still today remains the basis of every piece of clothing that carries the C.P. Company label. But every season, we keep on searching for new fabrics and technical development.
WWD Studios: Tradition and innovation are pillars of
C.P. Company. What are some of the unique fabric and dyeing technologies that have become synonymous with the brand?
L.O.: Garment dyeing is the name given to a process pioneered by Massimo and his collaborators in the early 1970s, in which a garment – usually made from white or raw un-colored fabric – is only dyed as a final manufacturing step, as opposed to the conventional method of manufacturing garments from pre-dyed fabrics. While the technique of artisanal garment-dyeing has long existed, Massimo Osti and his collaborators were the first to dye garments made from multiple fabrics or fiber types, and to transform this into an industrial process.
This process – which appears almost alchemical for those who witness it first-hand – produces a chromatic depth and intensity impossible to achieve with pre-dyed fabric, as well as enhances the material characteristics of the fabric. C.P. Company’s latest chapter in the story of garment dyeing is the Bespoke Color Service, a customization service launched in 2018 that allows the client to have a custom dyed garment of any possible Pantone color.
Regarding fabrics, C.P. Company releases new custom materials every season, but the most iconic remains the 50 Fili: a cotton/nylon woven fabric where the warp, in cotton, is more visible than the weft in nylon, so it constitutes the greater mass and is dominant.
That’s why 50 Fili has the soft touch of cotton, and at the same time retains the technical function and resistance of nylon. The mixed composition of 50 Fili makes it perfect to enhance the garment-dyeing process, especially on the two color-single-bath processes that return iridescent with three-dimensional effects.
WWD Studios: C.P. Company is celebrating its milestone 50th Anniversary. What does that mean for the brand today and
L.O.: First of all, I have to say that I’m happy, proud, and somewhat surprised to find myself celebrating this anniversary 50 years after my father founded the brand.
My father left the company in 1993, and since we re-acquired the brand in 2005, it has been my mission to grant a long and successful future to this brand that I am in love with. This anniversary makes me feel responsible to set the basis for the next 50 years of innovation and success.
WWD Studios: C.P. Company defines itself as more of a design brand than a fashion brand. Would you elaborate on that?
L.O.: In recent years I’ve run semiotic analyses to map brands in their respective ecosystems. One of the classic oppositions is between brands that are focused on their product and brands that are focused on what they represent.
C.P. Company can be defined as a design brand because its focus is totally on the product, conceived as a type of design that is meant to last, not meant to follow fashion trends. Focusing on the product instead of what the brand represents is possibly why C.P. Company has been adopted by several subcultures to become part of their uniform, which started, for them, to represent something, a sense of belonging.
WWD Studios: What’s next for C.P. Company?
L.O.: There is always a lot to learn and improve in a market that is changing as fast as technology does. I believe the future is in curating a brand experience that progresses through several touchpoints. The brand should have as much control as possible on all channels to grant the customer the most engaging and flawless experience possible.