Which became the working man’s catwalk, a chance to show your label credentials as well as engaging in a game of one-upmanship with opposing fans. The casual movement started in the North (arguably, before everyone starts!) with Liverpool fans who would return from European cup matches loaded up with stolen goods from raided stores across Europe’s capitals and cities. Labels like Sergio Tacchini, Lacoste, Ellesse, Pringle and Fila (The Fila, Bjorn Borg or ‘B.J’ tennis top becoming an era defining classic). Through the years, the fashion has changed from club to club and city to city, each club taking up their own label-obsessed identity.
Through the last thirty years, a number of items and labels have stayed the course, the most noticeable being the Adidas trainer. Gazelles, Stan Smiths, Spezials and Londons are all still very visible today with the ‘lads’ in the know. But for me, the ultimate terrace accessory has to be the much sought after, potentially relationship ending, wallet smashing, highly desirable C.P Company designed Mille Miglia (pronounced ‘Millie Mia’) goggle jacket.
The history of the jacket began back in 1988 when Italian designer label C.P Company sponsored the Millie Miglia road race (the original race was ‘A thousand Roman Miles’ and stretched from Brescia to Rome and the course has changed a number of times in subsequent years.) C.P designer and owner Massimo Osti designed the first goggle jacket for competitors as a gift and promotional item for the event. His inspiration came from the clothing worn by the original Millie Miglia racers of the 1920s. Osti decided to place goggles sewn into the hood, sticking to the jacket’s original design so that drivers could continue their long race in varying weather conditions, as well as a watch viewer on the right wrist allowing competitors to view their times without having to push up the sleeve of their jackets while driving. The original jacket was also personalised with the red arrow of the 1000 Miglia logo.
Since its initial release, the jacket has taken on a number of different guises, including anti-rip, earth dyed, leather, the more experimental Dynafil, a water and oil resistant fabric. The Jacket and the C.P Company brand have gone from strength to strength. Each new season brings a slightly different twist to the original; different pockets, waist belts and an ever growing number of colours. C.P Company quickly picked up on the money-making potential of the goggle jacket and started a range of wool blend products, also offering the goggle look at a lower price. Some hardcore fans scoffed, feeling that such an idea would cheapen the brand. But the jacket and its varying spin-offs have gone on to be a consistently high seller.
Many imitations have followed, mostly awful, as none of them can match the sheer quality of material and cut of the original. There are a number of reasons for the love of the Millie Miglia jacket among the more discerning football fans. The most obvious being the goggle hood. With the hood pulled up and the goggles folded down your face was virtually hidden. If you threw a scarf into the equation to cover your lower face, the chances of a pull by the police – even after the event – became even lower, the hardwearing durability of the garment also being a benefit due to the less than relaxed nature of some of the football matches.
In 2006, Massimo Osti passed away after battling cancer for seven years. The fashion world lost a trail blazer and the terraces lost their favourite son. Well respected brands such as Griffin, Maharsishi and 6876 would never have existed if it wasn’t for the inspiration of Osti’s designs and foresight. Rumour has it that the designer’s son will continue his work and push the C.P Company brand on into the next 20 years.
Early this year, C.P Company released an anniversary Millie Miglia designer by Aitor Throup to celebrate a piece of terrace and fashion history. The jacket was a return to the original. This time offering gloves and still with the watch viewer, it has a longer body length than the standard pieces and was designed with a driving position in mind. A detachable drivers pouch is also positioned on the right-hand side of the front pocket. The jacket material is three layered Tinto Terra gore-tex, with performance shell fabric that has a waterproof membrane. The seems are all finished with gore-seem waterproof thermo- taping
It is easy for the doubters to say, “It’s only an expensive jacket”. You wouldn’t say to a mod, “It’s only a Parka!” It’s an identifying mark that sets you apart from everyone else. The Millie Miglia 20 years on is still an attention grabber and it sits proudly at the top of the terrace fashion throne – a cult classic that I can never see being beaten.© Words – Ian "always cash love" Park/ ZANI Media