A Field Trip to Valstar

Valstar is mostly known today as the Italian company who came up with a casual, sporty take on the classic A-1 blouson – a type of flight jacket with a button front and stand-up, knitted collar. The A-1 was originally a military flight jacket worn by American fighter pilots, but in 1935 Valstar turned it into a sporty piece of outerwear, known as “Valstarino”, that civilian men could wear in the city. It is now considered an icon of Italian design and has been featured in design exhibitions alongside Achille Castiglioni’s Arco lamp, the Alfa Romeo Giuletta or the Bialetti coffee pot.

Before coming up with this blouson design however, Valstar was actually an English maker of raincoats. In fact, Valstar first did business under the name English Fashion Waterproof, and continued to do so until 1911, when it moved to Italy, changed its name to Valstar, and became the first Italian manufacturer of rainwear.

Today, Valstar is a relatively small operation with a couple dozen employees and prides itself on taking a “sartorial” approach to outerwear, always spending a considerable amount of attention on selecting superior materials, from water-repellent leathers to English tweeds or Millerain cloth, as well as on all the construction details and trimmings, making their products some of the best pieces of outerwear manufactured today.

This sartorial approach also manifests itself in a flexibility to make an wide variety of material combinations. We were of course impressed with the craftsmanship of Valstar’s seamstresses, and took the opportunity to have some Valstarino blousons and jackets made in English wools, with luxurious flannel linings, horn buttons and all the better trimmings we would expect to see on tailor-made clothing.

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