"Paninari" in a magazine dedicated to them:
Paninaro - I nuovi galli (# 13), published by Edifumetto
Image via Best Entertainment
Do you know when you understand much about someone just by having a quick look at them?
There was a time when you could just catch a glimpse of someone else's clothing and understand right away their view about world, politics, life.
Those were the 1980s, a decade of impulses and creativity that still makes people dream and smile - even those who were not even born at the time -
because it was the legendary cradle of extraordinary personalities, glam trends, fab parties.
The history of one of the most famous brands of the time starts right here: it's Best Company.
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Political and social engagement had marked the 1970s, internationally and in Italy, leaving more opportunities for economic growth and the longing for fun and wealth.
The young needed to be happy.
In order to achieve that, they started from the basis - staying with people like them, a group they could share their thoughts with.
This context was ideal for subcultures to rise - microgroups that shared the same ideas, tastes, opinions and interests.
How can you recognize people from a certain subculture at first sight? It's easy - looking at what they wear.
It may seem weird today, but once upon a time you could just look at young people in the streets sitting on benches or walking in shops and immediately understand what "group" they "belonged to".
Fashion has this skill to create identifying marks, to connect people, and give an insight of current cultures.
During the 1980s and the 1990s, you could find any kind of style on the streets:
there were heavy metal fans, gothics, yuppies from the U.S. and "paninari" in Italy, young hedonist bourgeois.
This group was the one where the Best Company's adventure started - the first steps of an international fashion case.
How did they achieve that?
Designer Olmes Carretti created Best Company in 1982.
Carretti has an eclectic personality - he's open-minded, with a special ability in understanding different cultures (he's indeed a great traveler) and the unexpressed desires of the young.
He's namely attentive to technique, quality and continuous innovation, as a result of a deep knowledge of clothing construction and yarns.
His curriculum shows important steps like creating By American, collaborating with Fiorucci and conceiving the legendary RWR jacket for Henri Lloyd.
His style intuitions would drive anyone crazy.
In particular, the "paninari" love pleasures and brands but not conventional elegance - they meet in fast food chains but come from wealthy families.
Their uniform include the Henri Lloyd jacket or the Moncler coat; they walk in Timberland shoes - and also wear that magic piece, the Best Company sweatshirt.
Even though sweatshirts normally belong to activewear, the Best Company sweatshirt has a new meaning:
its price is higher than any other sweatshirt, it's almost a luxury clothing piece, but you can wear it anywhere.
It's the sweatshirt everyone wants - because any boy or girl can magically become part of an élite of privileged just by wearing it.
Wearing that sweatshirt gives you the pleasure of achieving the status you want others to think you have. And that's priceless.
Best Company sold about 20 million sweatshirts in only 7 years.
The 1980s and the 1990s were definitely the years of their greatest success;
however, as it often happens with quality pieces, the Best Company sweatshirt has become a timeless cult.
Even today, a Best Company sweatshirt or a Henri Lloyd RWR jacket are valued collector's items.
As soon as rare pieces go back on the market for exceptional cases, they are literally immediately sold.
With the creative direction of Olmes Carretti, Best Company gave to a common clothing piece that "cool factor" you would look for in streestyle today,
that intangible attitude everyone, secretly or not, strives for. That thing that makes an anonymous item a must-have.
Style may be natural, but the sense of belonging and aesthetics is something you can work on.
Culture, society and fashion mutually influence each other with inputs that bring innovation into tradition, luxury into minimalism, cohesion into individualism.
Best Company is the symbol of this amazing contamination.
If you want to know more about the Best Company case, don't miss the exhibition at Future Vintage Festival in Padua from September the 7th to the 9th, curated by our historical archive.
Find exhibited 10 iconic pieces from A.N.G.E.L.O. archive and from Olmes Carretti's private archive.
Also, don't miss an exclusive conference on Sunday 9th September at 11 am:
Olmes Carretti, founder of Best Company, and Angelo Caroli, founder of A.N.G.E.L.O., will be the protagonists of Cos'è rimasto degli anni '80 e '90?,
a passionate conversation about the historical and social reasons of the Best Company success story and how the brand's aesthetics keeps influencing our style today.