By Derek Guy
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 Valstar turned it into a sporty piece of outerwear that civilian men could wear in the city. Before coming up with the design, however they were actually an English maker of raincoats. In fact, they first did business under the name English Fashion Waterproof, and continued to do so until 1911, when they moved to Italy, changed their name to Valstar, and became the first Italian manufacturer of rainwear. It wasn’t until a generation later that they became known for their blouson.
In the time they made raincoats, Valstar had some spectacular advertising art. Much of it was in the style of Leonetto Cappiello, an illustrator whose style became widely copied – particularly in Western Europe – during the early 20th century.
Cappiello was an Italian artist who moved to France in 1898, and quickly became famous for his caricatures of Parisian actresses. The boulevards in Paris were full of distractions, so Cappiello had to quickly learn how to reject the fussy details of Art Nouveau (which ruled the day at that time), and instead focus on creating animated, slightly humorous caricatures of his subjects. His style had the energy of Jules Cheret (popularly thought of as the “father of the modern poster”), and the caricature style of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (one of the most well-known French painters in the Post-Impressionist period). His art was celebrated for how they captured people’s imaginations, and was soon found on advertising posters throughout Continental Europe. Anyone who’s been to a coffeehouse nowadays has undoubtedly seen reproductions of his work (think of that famous black poster with a mischievous green devil holding a bottle of absinthe, seemingly both mocking and tempting the viewer).
Of course, not all of Valstar’s artwork was done in this style. Some featured more realistic depictions of people in their raincoats. Whether in the spirit of Cappiello or someone else, however, all of their advertisements were tremendously stylish, as one can see here. 

I very, very rarely reblog anything. However, I’m extremely excited for Greg and Kevin’s new venture, No Man Walks Alone. Both of these guys have been some of the most consistently excellent posters on Style Forum over the past decade, and their taste levels far exceed what has become the #menswear norm.
I encourage everyone to follow their blog and sign up as a VIP on their soon-to-be-launched site here. Their stock promises to be exceptionally curated, specializing in items that are as rare as they are tasteful.

Thanks !

Does the world really need another online menswear store?

Introducing the project I have been working on for the last nine months.   Please follow me at nomanwalksalone on tumblr as I will be posting mostly there going forward.   And don’t forget to sign up early to our Founders Circle to get discounts and invites to early sales and events.


Before you answer that question, let me tell you a little bit about No Man Walks Alone and why it’s worth a look for anyone who values quality craftsmanship, thoughtful design, honesty, and passion from the people who make their clothes.

No Man Walks Alone borrows its name from a Humphrey Bogart line and is a site with a point of view.  It’s an online space that will showcase makers and products that we would like to share with others.

We want to offer a selection of great looking products - ones that are honest in their design and their make, from casual to formal - all in one place. In the last nine months, we’ve scoured the world over to define our assortment. We’ve made multiple trips to Italy, France, Japan, and the UK; visited workshops, design studios, and trade shows; and met loads of  talented and passionate people.

Our site and store will open in September and we will offer a carefully selected (dare I say “curated?”) assortment of clothing, footwear, and accessories. We don’t want to be an online department store with hundreds of brands, nor do we want to offer only luxury bespoke products to a happy few. We know every item in the store, and each was selected for a reason. In fact, many were specially commissioned by us – we picked the styles, materials, and details, and let each maker perform their magic.  From the unique series of suits made for us by a Neapolitan bespoke tailor, to a carefully selected line of footwear from our favorite Hungarian shoemaker, our offering reflects our taste and point of view.

I believe that you will like our selection. There will be handsewn shirts from Puglia; cashmere scarves and sweaters from Scotland; neckties from London, Milan, and Naples; jackets from England, Italy, and Japan; rainwear from Sweden and Scotland; knitwear from the Aran islands; handmade belts and trousers from Parma; handmade shoes from Northampton and Budapest;  sneakers and boots from Tuscany and Alsace; casual shirts and outerwear from Japan; leather goods from Italy, England, and Spain; and handcrafted umbrellas from Naples and Milan.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you a taste of the makers and products we’re carrying by posting photos on our Tumblr and Facebook pages. So, follow us to stay updated, and spread the word to your like-minded friends.   

If you head over to now, you can sign up to become part of our Founders Circle, which will carry benefits reserved only for those who register before our September launch.  There’s also a nice surprise when you sign up …

Looking forward to serving you soon,

Greg (gdl203)

Hi Greg -- Since you have experience with various TOJ jackets and leathers, I was wondering if you could make a recommendation. I'm ordering my first jacket from them, so I wanted something versatile for a refined casual wardrobe (flannel trousers, suede chukkas, dotted scarves). I'm leaning toward a brown CWU, but am not certain about whether to go with goat or lamb. I see you wear your goat A2 quite a bit, and are also happy with your black lamb UMDR. Which leather would you pick in my shoes?

Hi there -

Given the more refined clothes you are looking to wear with it (flannels & chukkas), I would definitely go for lamb.  A goatskin bomber would look a tad off with these IMO, and a better match for jeans and boots.   Now, is the CWU the best option for the look you’re going for?  Maybe.   Take a look at possibly doing a lambskin Harrington maybe as an alternative.

In any case, TOJ leathers are amazing (especially lambskin ones) and you will be very happy.


—-Greg (gdl203)