In 2008, Aitor Throup was approached by the Italian clothing label C.P. Company and asked to revisit one of its defining designs: the Goggle Jacket. The original version had been created by C.P. Company founder and textile innovator Massimo Osti (1944-2005) as a tie-in with the Mille Miglia, the notoriously dangerous Italian open road endurance race from Brescia to Rome and back, that began in the inter-war years and was revived as a modern road rally in 1982. Osti had designed the Goggle Jacket as a promotional gift, a part of C.P. Company’s sponsorship of the 1988 race. Mille Miglia is Italian for ‘Thousand Miles’, and Osti’s design was entirely rooted in functional car racing concerns and careful innovations. The Goggle Jacket’s most original design features were the hinging goggles built into its hood and the window on the left sleeve through which a driver could check his watch whilst driving. The limited-run jacket quickly became a modern classic, and Osti and his collaborators and successors have reinvented it in new forms, fabrics and finishes ever since.
For the Goggle Jacket’s anniversary, C.P. Company asked Throup to apply his research and innovation-centred design philosophy to re-imagine the iconic design. Throup developed a forward-thinking, ergonomic new version of the design, and curated an accompanying exhibition at London’s Royal College of Art that presented both the jacket’s history and explained the design process behind its latest iteration. Throup’s version of the jacket was constructed on a full-size sculpture of the human form in driving position, but also tailored in a new way so that the actual shape of the jacket could literally morph from a standing to a driving position with minimal fabric build up and maximum comfort around the waist and arms. This was achieved with two intelligently engineered fabric panels at the sides of the jacket which could be activated by zips as and when needed. The hood was completely redesigned to be anatomically accurate and allow a driving helmet to be worn inside it. The placement of the watch window was reconsidered so that the driver wouldn’t have to twist his wrist to glance at the time, and the goggles became both more ergonomic and more reminiscent of the Mille Miglia’s 1920s origins. Linings and features were made detachable, and Throup managed to create the first garment in history to have been made from GORE_TEX which was consequently garment dyed by Tinto Terra, the highly innovative treatment which uses cultivated soil pigments and bonds them onto fabrics. This gave the typically flat and very modern feel of GORE-TEX the look of an antique.
In an essay for his RCA Goggle Jacket exhibition in autumn 2009, Throup wrote, “The Goggle Jacket is the reason why I became a designer. Back in Burnley where I (partly) grew up it was a cultural icon utilised almost as a status symbol. What the Goggle Jacket did for me was that it opened the doors to the world of design, and so I began to become more aware and passionate about brands such as C.P. Company, Stone Island, Boneville, Left hand, and of course Massimo Osti Production. I have drawn for as long as I can remember, and clothing became a natural platform through which I could develop all the ideas that had so far been limited to the two-dimensional constraints of pencil and paper. The Goggle Jacket taught and formed me, and through my studies I strived to replicate an approach to design which could equal the precision and integrity of what I considered (and still consider) to be the pinnacle of design: an object which proposes something completely unique through its very form, which is understandable through an explanation. It has a reason for being, whether that is functional or conceptual.”
Throup’s 20th Anniversary edition of the Goggle Jacket was shortlisted for the prestigious ‘Design of the Year’ Award 2010 by The Design Museum in London.