There’s a mound of T-shirts, old and new, on Sofia Prantera’s bed. But one in particular is making her chuckle. “This is an Ozzy [Osbourne] T-shirt I bought when I was pregnant. It’s from a not-so-cool time for Ozzy, when he had bad hair,” says the Aries Arise designer. “I really like how bad it is.”

There’s also the glow-in-the-dark T-shirt, the neon, racing top her husband bought her for Valentine’s, and her favourite one – with tribal tattoo embroidery from one of the early Aries collections. “It was Fergus’ [Purcell, Aries co-founder] nod to the fact that tribal tattoos were so unfashionable. It’s trashy but elegant.”

The Italian-born designer’s Islington home brims with rare clippings, graphic art, books, photos and vintage streetwear, mostly from the 1990s and early 2000s. Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of subcultures and fashion from the time, Prantera fizzes about these relics as if she’d just picked them up yesterday.

“There’s something about that period that stuck and has inspired me ever since,” she says. “Everything was being thrown upside down by this new subculture of people who weren’t wearing any makeup, sweating in nightclubs, wearing comfortable shoes.”

It was also during the 1990s that Prantera, fresh out of a fashion design BA at Central Saint Martins, met Aries co-founder Purcell, aka “Fergadelic” while working at London’s Slam City Skates. “I loved what he did,” she says. “He brought in a comic called Candy Goes to Hell, and it was very much in the vein of Milo Manara, a famous Italian graphics artist, and Hugo Pratt, another famous comic artist of the 80s in Italy. I just loved it.”

From there, Prantera went on to found skatewear brand Holmes, then Silas – a streetwear brand known for its creative collaborations with London-based artists and designers that gained it worldwide, cult status. Purcell designed the famous Penrose triangle logo for Palace Skateboards, as well as working with designers including Marc Jacobs, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley. Then, in 2012, she and Purcell decided to launch Aries together.

While streetwear and “trash” culture collections by brands like Vêtements are all the rage now, Prantera says that just four or five years ago, “streetwear was like a dirty word”. “Fergus had done these yellow fluorescent T-shirts with big logos on them and it really wasn’t what people were wearing at the time,” she says. But now, the fashion world has caught up and Aries has complete authenticity, perfect for a new generation to discover.

With Purcell’s background in graphics and their shared love of urban culture and logo design, Aries’ street-styled, graphic-heavy clothes soon felt like a match made in subcultural heaven. Besides the often idiosyncratic, tongue-in-cheek graphics, it is Aries’ denim that has really catapulted the brand to “It” status. “I love jeans. I think that’s very European of me,” Prantera muses. “Personally, I like ‘real’ jeans that are tough – not something that has a lot of lycra in it.”

For the autumn/winter 2016 collection, replete with animal prints and denim with bold graphic details, Prantera says she was inspired by a David Sims' image of Kurt Cobain wearing a zebra-print onesie. “My designs are never about reinventing things,” Prantera says. “It’s about growth and absorbing things… That’s why my style is the same really, although it has changed in its own way, through the decades.” Ozzy Osbourne, for one, would surely understand.

Interview by Jainnie Cho