“ROA is a hybrid, a true modern form,” creative director Patrick Stangbye tells LN-CC over email. “It’s about the in-betweens and not always something literal,” he adds. Following high visibility wears from the likes of Playboi Carti and Drake alongside the recent release of coveted collaborations with Our Legacy, A-Cold-Wall*, 1017 Alyx 9SM and Stüssy, GQ declared ROA as the "It" footwear brand of the year back in February. But far from a static entity that encapsulates a single moment in the zeitgeist, the Italian brand is continually moving, ever evolving and forever exploring the in-between. From its inception in 2015 following an encounter between streetwear pioneering Slam Jam’s creative team and technical footwear designer Maurizio Quaglia, ROA has always been a creative application of the latest innovations from the world of technical outdoors-wear with a hybrid attitude towards landscapes. “ROA is about movement through landscapes, both manmade and what is considered as ‘natural’,” Patrick adds simply but powerfully.
This innate desire to navigate the in-betweens naturally led the brand to look up from its expertly crafted hybrid, Vibram-soled footwear and take up the challenge of dressing the body. “The move into ready-to-wear came from our desire to further articulate the approach behind the footwear, and to propose a full sensation, visually and experientially, on the body,” Patrick explains. The head-to-toe, hiking hiking-meets-high-fashion, hybrid wardrobe evolved out of discussions between Patrick and the design team of Gregorio Nordio, Giovanni Nordio and their colleague at the time Filippo Bendanti. “There’s a certain functionality embedded into all of our products and, more than anything else, this was essential for us in terms of building the foundations of a ROA wardrobe,” he adds.
To celebrate its launch, LN-CC wanted to highlight its functionality, while playfully emphasing the hybridity that drives and defines the brand. This led us to the weird and wonderful collision of worlds that is extreme ironing. “Extreme Ironing started in 1997 after I came home from a hard day’s work only to find a pile of ironing but I needed to be outside,” sport founder Steam (Phil Shaw) explains in the 2003 phenomenon-explaining documentary, Extreme Ironing: Pressing For Glory. Thinking that he would rather be rock climbing, Steam took his ironing board out to his garden, attached his iron to a long extension cord and completed his chores outdoors. Combining a day’s excitement and adventure with fresh, starched laundry, there’s no sport quite like extreme ironing. Since its inception in the Leicester-based knitwear factory worker’s garden, the hybrid pursuit quickly spread to fellow local outdoor-enthusiasts and beyond. The Channel 4 documentary highlights its rise as it details the first Extreme Ironing World Championships held in Bavaria back in 2002. In 2004, as German iron manufacturer Rowenta sponsored a US tour, The New York Times estimated there to be 1,500 ironists worldwide. For some, nature alone does not present enough of a challenge, so they seek something else. Inspired, LN-CC pays homage to these challenge seekers, while using the sport as a tongue-in-cheek ROA road (bridge and mountain) test.
“I’m interested in the landscape and our relationship to it – how we move through it, defend it, build on it and even destroy it,” London-based photographer, director and publisher Alex Webb tells LN-CC. From scaling Mont Blanc with Moncler to trail running with District Vision, climbing Stanage for Les Others to documenting a declassified site around RAF Barnham for his experimental documentary KEITH, Alex thrives in taking photographs out in the world. After enlisting him to turn our extreme ironing daydreams into reality, we challenged Cheddar-based photographer, content creator and climbing enthusiast Liam Furneaux (aka Advanced Rock) to take LN-CC’s ironing board on a trip around Avon Gorge.
What started as a place to post his own climbing adventures and scans from old climbing magazines has seen Advanced Rock evolve into a creative outlet, a hub for community and collaboration. After initially agreeing to assist his friend behind-the-scenes, Liam was asked to put himself and the collection through its paces in front of the camera. “I only found out at 6am on the morning of the shoot that I’d be the one modelling and extreme ironing,” Liam tells us before laughing. Despite plenty of previous experience climbing this scenic enclave of Bristol, this would be his first time doing so maneuvering an ironing board on his harness and an iron in his right hand. “It was a fun experience but I'm not sure I’ll be taking my iron with me next time I go climbing,” he confesses.
“This ROA collection is beautiful,” Liam tells us as he removes the harness. “I really like the brown classic chino pant because they remind me of something climbers would have worn back in the 60s and 70s in Yosemite,” he adds, before agreeing that throughout this coveted debut form is balanced with function, aesthetics with protection, performance with everyday demands. “The technical hiking pants felt solid and when I wore them on the wall, I found they were comfy whilst sitting in the harness,” he adds. “I’m a big fan of the green hooded windbreaker jacket I wore on the slab.” Whether you’re coming or going, have your feet firmly planted to the pavement or dangling from a cliff top, this ROA collection is for everyone. Especially you…
Photography and film Alex Webb, @alexfwebb Video Filip, @steeplearninggroup Talent Liam Furneaux, @liamfurneaux, @advanced.rock Special thanks to Dave, Mark and Marcus!