How CP Company Created an Icon and Became the Grandpa of Modern Street Style
There are few people, even in fashion, who really know the meaning of the name Chester Perry. More, perhaps, know it by the name that it turned into: CP Company. Many more should. Because CP Company is and was the originator of much of what we now recognize as street style. Celebrating 50 years in business this year, the Italian brand was founded in 1971 by Massimo Osti, a Bologna graphic designer turned clothing engineer who, fascinated by functional military and civilian clothing, set out to create a whole new branch of Italian fashion. . Call it Italian sportswear.
These garments would be defined by their military look and technical performance, which they did for you. If urban style is defined by creating haute couture from relaxed, raised clothing, Osti did it first. There were other pillars of this movement in Italy, including Aspesi and Stone Island. Proving its longevity, the two are still thriving. (The latter, by the way, was also founded by Osti.)
One of Osti’s most iconic and enduring designs for CP is the Mille Miglia Jacket, a cropped parka inspired and named after the annual classic and often deadly sports car race that descends and climbs the spine of the world. ‘Italy. It comes with goggles built into the removable hood and a window on the left sleeve so you can read your watch while driving without having to remove the sleeve.
New iterations of the Mille Jacket, as it’s now known, arrive every season at CP, now with Osti’s son, Lorenzo, at the helm. They come with subtle changes in design, and despite constant innovations in manufacturing, they feel almost timeless – and certainly apart from the ebb and flow of trends. A nifty way to gauge the brand’s continued relevance is to research vintage Mille Miglia jackets on eBay, where old ones look as fresh as new ones.
CP Company started out as a style idea that lived on its own terms, outside of the mainstream of fashion. Osti often developed fabrics – painstaking research over long periods of time – that made textile specialists scratch their heads when trying to create something that came out of their imagination. The enduring appeal of the brand he founded rests on a premise that has led to such an innovative exploration: to think of fashion as a process that is both industrial and artisanal. Freed from the dominant codes of office attire and tailoring, the brand has engendered a sense of community for men and women who want more than just to feel like they belong.
There’s too little room to do the CP Company justice here, but if you want a good idea of its enduring appeal, a monster book titled Company CP 971-021 is available at cpcompany.com. It features a bunch of longtime CP fans including a few famous faces here and there.
A version of this story appears in the Winter 2021 issue of Squire magazine. Subscribe to Esquire Select for unlimited access.
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