How C.P. Company Became Your Favorite Brand’s Favorite Brand
“You don’t actually know why,” says Paul Harvey, “but there are some things that you pick up and you can feel it—you can feel they’ve been made the right way—and I like to think that’s present in what we do with C.P. Company, to this day.”
Harvey is sitting in a design studio in Bologna, Italy, alongside Alessandro Pungetti—together, the two run design for the company—and Enrico Grigoletti, C.P.’s marketing director. Behind them is what looks like an archive of functional but stylish sportswear, a reasonable assumption given C.P. Company’s illustrious 50-plus year history as a purveyor of cutting-edge sportswear.
Albeit a wrong one. “Personally,” Harvey confides, “I don’t know where the archive is right now.” Instead, behind them are the collections to come: fabric swatches and samples that underpin the future of the brand.
It’s strange, but not entirely unexpected, that the people inside C.P. Company are focused on the future—they’re currently working on Fall/Winter 2024—rather than the past.
It feels strange because, to paraphrase Harvey a little bit, those who know, know that C.P. Company’s archives are among the most influential in the recent history of garment development and textile innovation. Unbeknownst to most, C.P. Company’s work has shaped what people wear on a daily basis, as the brand’s textile innovation and garment development have trickled down—and even up—the fashion pyramid, first to other outerwear and sportswear brands, then to a new generation of techwear brands and, ultimately, even to streetwear. The 40,000 unique garments that have borne the C.P. Company tag have changed how designers think about clothes and what clients expect from brands in terms of both utilitarianism and style.
C.P. Company was founded by the now-revered Italian textile designer Massimo Osti in 1971, though the brand was known as Chester Perry until 1978, when a pair of lawsuits—one by Fred Perry and the other Chester Barry—forced a name change. Today Osti is best known as the man who founded swishy-pant innovator Stone Island, but C.P. Company was, in many respects, the incubator and progenitor—not just of Stone Island, but of large swaths of contemporary sportswear and techwear, this despite the fact that most customers are unfamiliar with C.P. Company. The brand has a relatively small footprint in North America, while many Britons assume it’s an English brand because of the associations to football terrace culture.