Founded in Milan in 1911, Valstar is a luxury men’s fashion house renowned for producing quality outerwear. Famed for their water-repellent raincoats, the company's outerwear has set the benchmark for stylish yet functional Italian-made craftsmanship.
Over the years, the brand has further solidified its military-influenced status with a casual staple – the ‘Valstarino’, an elevated flight jacket. We spoke to head of Design Luigi Fila about the initial vision for the brand, the SS23 collection, what's next for the brand, and more.
What was the initial vision behind the brand?
With its inception, Valstar became the first Italian company to produce raincoats that were water-repellent. Although that’s taken for granted today, back then it was a revolutionary achievement. In the early years of the 20th century, the company’s elegant and flattering coats set the benchmark for stylish and functional outerwear, which quickly caught the attention of the upper echelons of Italian society, and helped to establish the company as a household name.
Can you tell us about a milestone year for the brand?
Arguably, the most important year in the Valstar story is 1935. The trajectory of the company’s legacy changed with the advent of the ‘Valstarino’, which was inspired by the A1 flight jacket. The first-known example of military clothing that was reimagined in a sporty and chic way for the general public. To this day the Valstarino draws its design cues from the military uniform and reimagines it for the civilian market.
What was the initial concept behind the SS23 collection?
We don't really think much in terms of collection, we try to make beautiful timeless garments, so we spend much more time thinking of every single product individually than we do thinking about the collection aspect of it. What makes it very cohesive is that we have a very strong identity. We don’t feel we have to compromise to accommodate the requests of a giant business. We only do things we like, so the harmony in the collection comes quite naturally.
Please talk us through the main influences behind this collection – were there any that were non-fashion related?
We rarely look at fashion for inspiration, the process is that we generally look at a lot of vintage pieces and then we try to simplify and rework them to try and distil what makes them special. The colour palette is often a mix of very different influences from architecture to art or design, but never fashion.
What are the key pieces that you are most excited about from this collection and why?
I love the reversible camo overshirts, it looks like a classic military garment, but there is a fun leopard print on the inside. It can be a little fun detail, or you can flip it and wear it on the outside if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. Plus it’s a beautiful Japanese double-printed fabric from a small mill that we love. We also have a beautiful Japanese fabric that is a tonal jacquard and tied dyed by hand. It’s a nightmare from a production point of view, because of the hand-dyed fabrics, so the result is completely unpredictable, but we all fell in love with it when we saw it.
Can you talk us through the key cuts and silhouettes that define the collection?
In the suede we have some very subdued 70s touches, like the western blouson and piped varsity jackets. There's some fantastic Japanese fabric, ranging from a vintage effect cotton and nylon to a double printed herringbone cotton with twill tiger stripe camo on one side and leopard on the other. There is a small capsule of workwear and military-inspired garments redone in beautiful Italian linen. We're also excited about a capsule of waterproof and packable garments.
What key element would you like people to take from this collection?
For us, the most important thing is that the love and thought we put in every little detail comes across. From the work that goes into making one of our suede jackets to a special Japanese fabric with some crazy production process, there is a love for genuine craft in everything we do, and we hope that comes across.
What was the biggest issue that you had to face during the design process for the new collection and how did you overcome it?
We made the choice to build a small network of selected, generally family-run suppliers. In these times of disruption this very small, tight knitted network means that we have to find solutions together with our partners – we don’t switch suppliers to wherever it’s faster or more convenient. It’s a way of working that presents some challenges, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.
What's next for the brand?
We have recently opened our first flagship store in Milano, it’s a beautiful space that has become a home for the brand, where people can come in and discover our story and values. The feedback has been fantastic, and we would love to bring that closer to more people.
Great, thanks for your time!