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Italian designer Massimo Alba is a long-term favorite of Esquire for his soft, elegant clothes that seem to come with a life story stitched into the seams. Alba’s clothing is about a casual sense of luxury that is personal to the wearer—the opposite of fast fashion—and layered with meaning when you get up close. That sense of meaning got a significant boost when Daniel Craig opted to wear Alba’s tan needlecord “Sloop” suit in the yet-to-be-released No Time to Die, his last stint as Bond. In an off-duty moment, Craig’s Bond wears the very deliberately casual suit with an almost pipe-and-slippers air that’s a far cry from the spick-and-span tailoring of the on-duty agent. Violence inevitably ensues. While the movie’s release was delayed, fortunately for Alba, the suits were not, and he has sold a good number of them to fans since the news—and the advance clip—first leaked.
Alongside these unexpected moments, Alba’s brand has been resolutely making a name for itself for 15 years in both men’s and women’s, a rare case where you can see the right like-minded couple convincingly clad head-to-toe in Alba. As befits Alba’s own personal style (and those of his customers across the globe) his are clothes that don’t shout about themselves. So, it was fitting when veteran leather goods brand Valextra, a similarly low-key luxury brand, tapped Alba last year for a collaboration called Extramilano, in which Valextra partnered with Alba and five other Milanese brands to restyle classics from its archives.
“Valextra is a quintessentially Milanese thing,” says Alba of the veteran brand. The Serie S bag, on which Alba’s take was based, was first launched in 1961 at the dawn of the jet-set age and relaunched in 2019. “It’s definitely a heritage thing,” he says, “with a very specific point of view—pure, clean, unpretentious—that is both very Milan and very international.” Made continuously over the intervening decades, the Serie S and its subtle modernity have been a constant go-to for those who like their luxuries a little on the quiet side.
“Valextra had a beautiful idea to bring in small-scale Milanese brands” says Alba. “They asked us each to restyle a classic from their famous accessories. For me it was simply to introduce a different design language by using a wool coat cloth I used in the Fall ‘20 collection.” The pattern is gray with a dash of lilac, making it eminently suitable for men and women and functionally good at absorbing bumps and hiding marks. It’s also a double-face cloth, which means you can show both sides but also, crucially, that it’s much lighter. Leather ends on the base and top give the bag a soft-but-structured look.
Valextra has managed over its long existence to be thought both modern and classic at the same time. That’s down in a large part to a rich run of particularly modernist bags in the late ‘50s thru the early ‘70s that offered a highly streamlined vision of functional luxury, the definition of hand-luggage when hand luggage was a statement piece—not a plastic bag and a Starbucks. For Alba, these things are meant to be carried, hence the prominent handle on the top. Just don’t mention wheels. “The only thing I don’t like with luggage is wheelie cases,” says Alba. “That terrible noise they make in airports. Bags are personal, they are part of you, so you should carry them. In your hand or over your shoulder. It will make you take less stuff with you.”
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Source : Esquire