The Valstar story could be divided up into two distinct eras: Before-Valstarino and After-Valstarino. B.V. Valstar was a completely different brand, one that had been founded in the late eighteen-hundreds as “English Fashion Waterproof” with a focus upon raincoats. In 1911, this company moved their offices to Milan to become Italy’s first rainwear company, dropping their convoluted name along the way in favor of the more streamlined Valstar moniker. For the next twenty-four years they continued to churn out effective, if not ordinary, trench coats, until the creation of the Valstarino in 1935. With its cropped body, knit collar and unstructured design, the Valstarino was a revolution, not just for Valstar, but for Italian style as a whole.
Earlier this month I flew to Italy to cover the new spring / summer 2015 collections being presented at the trade show Pitti Uomo. But before heading to the Fortezza da Basso, I made the trip down to Naples to see my favorite Italian shirtmaker (and tailor) Salvatore Piccolo and witness first-hand how he creates some of the finest hand-made shirts in the world. Having been to factories in Italy before, I knew this would be a great opportunity to document this unique process and partnered with Canon to tell the story behind the photographs.
When ACL began, it wasn’t with a specific plan in mind. I never thought I would be seeking out well-made things, or visiting factories. In fact, I never really expected the site to be anything more than a journal of the things I personally was interested in, it never seemed possible that any quantity of people would actually be following what happened here. At the same time I never intended to become a photographer. I understood the importance of photos on the web, but up until 2007 I never really took any pictures, ever. As I went to discover new things for ACL, my camera played an increasingly important role to the success of the site, and I started to find that I became increasingly interested in becoming a better photographer. My camera and ultimately my knowledge (and desire to own) different lenses helped raise the bar for ACL dramatically. I was quick to discover the importance of a good camera and quality lenses with great optics.
The Boglioli story has always begun with the jacket. Soft shouldered and unstructured, this small wonder of casual tailoring (my favorite pseudo-oxymoron) has defined Boglioli since their inception nearly a century ago. And yet, with their Spring/Summer ’15 collection Boglioli has made it ever more clear that to them the jacket is just the introduction. While some Italian labels have been content to rest on their soft-shouldered laurels, Boglioli is charging full-speed ahead, fueled by admirers that are at once appreciative of the company’s heritage and actively interested in the future of the brand.
It could be said that Italian menswear is in the midst of a rediscovery period. Classical tailoring and high fashion are no longer the Sharks and Jets of the clothing world, occupying the same territory and yet perpetually in combat. Now, more than ever, it is not enough for a tailoring house to simply make garments, they must also be “designers” in all senses of the word. An Italian tailoring house should cater to their diehard roster of bespoke customers, while also appealing to the whims of those that diligently observe the comings and goings of runway shows throughout Europe. The key to this (as in most things clothing related) is balance – don’t alienate the clients that brought you success all along, but don’t appear complacent.
Like a Wes Anderson movie, the Diemme story does not have one true main character, rather it’s an ensemble cast, that comes together from across the world to create Diemme’s unique line of casual footwear. The shoes are manufactured in Montebulluna, Italy by Calzaturificio Diemme, with the help of two design and sales companies, Blender Agency from Norway, and GMT Tokyo in Japan, as well as MnO International, a Swedish distributor. At the heart of the Diemme project lies two brothers, Dennis and Maico Signor, who have been manufacturing boots under the Calzaturificio Diemme name since 1992.
Herno’s moment in the sun has been a long time coming. Founded in 1948, Herno has been creating some the world’s finest outerwear for over half a century, and yet the brand has remained in relative obscurity until fairly recently. In fact many of you might have even owned an Herno jacket over the years without ever even knowing it. This is all because historically Herno’s main business has been as a private label producer for renowned brands across the world, including the likes of Ralph Lauren, Jil Sander, Armani, Prada, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton.
Launched this fall, Eidos is a recent addition to the Isaia family. The collection represents much of the Italian style that has ascended Isaia to cult status among those with an appreciation for fine tailoring. Though similar to its older sibling, the collection is focused more on a younger guy. Not to say that the target is young per se, Eidos is for those that love what Isaia offers in terms of style, but hasn’t necessarily graduated to that level quite yet.
The good news is, Eidos is priced below main-line Isaia and there’s not huge a sacrifice of quality. The collection is made entirely in Italy at another of company’s factories that is located between Naples and Rome. The higher-priced Isaia collection is made entirely at company’s original manufacture (which played host to me a while back) just outside of Naples. Regardless of where they are made, both offer great tailoring that is made with a high level of attention to detail.