Unexpected and Esoteric Approaches to Menswear and Style

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A Q&A with Luke Adams, Valet’s Editor-in-Chief

Valet is an independent, print-only publication dedicated to classic menswear and timeless style. They champion long-form essays that take unexpected and esoteric approaches to menswear, tailoring, and style—and, in the spirit of whimsy, publish articles tangentially or not at all related to clothing, just because they like them—in order to inspire men to dress entirely and unapologetically as themselves.

Hi Luke, tell us a little about your background.

As it pertains to Valet, my background is in literature. I studied English literature at university, developing a particular interest in stylistics and characterisation in the Victorian novel, chiefly Dickens. Dickens was one of the first in English letters to characterise my means other than characters’ psychology and speech. He would, for instance, describe characters’ clothing, gestures, ticks, and even their dwellings to create distinct characters to populate his worlds. I suppose this is where my interest in clothing stems from.

Why classic clothing? Well, because the classics are beautiful, and from a time when humanity strove for higher things. I should say that I am still astounded that my labours in the discipline of English literature have culminated in anything other than long-term unemployment. I am, however, very thankful that they have, as I have neither the talent nor patience to do much else.

Where and when was Valet born?

Like so many great things, over drink and conversation. Co-founder and Valet’s creative director Kirill Savateev and I got monstrously drunk one night in St Petersburg (a city of astounding, heart-breaking beauty), and decided that there simply must be a magazine that deals with matters of men’s dress in-depth and seriously. Nothing like it existed, so we made it.

Tell us a little about Valet and the team behind it.

The team behind Valet is extremely small. I take care of commissioning and editing texts, Kirill takes care of commissioning visuals, and our designer Dasha Brazhenko puts it all together. We also have two very good friends helping us with proofreading and marketing, Andrea Strafile and Ambrose Phillips respectively.

What’s the philosophy behind Valet and what makes your magazine unique?

Valet itself is somewhat a response to sartorial shallowness. We believe that the culture and history surrounding menswear — i.e. why we dress the way that we dress — is incomparably more interesting than what is often explored in menswear media, such as the latest seasonal trends, the top-five must-have loafers for summer, or precisely how wide a lapel should be. And we loathe the dearth of words in menswear cultural coverage, and so champion long-form essays that take unexpected and esoteric approaches to menswear and style. Valet is a sort of celebration of our inspiration to care about what we wear, and to have engaging conversations on eternal subjects.

Who would you say the readership is and why do you think the magazine resonates with them?

Our reader is someone for whom style is a true expression of character. He understands that his style, like his character, is a product of his experience—unique, intimate, and wholly personal. It is not something that changes with the seasons, nor is it something that can be washed away by the tides of fashion. His style is a product of history, his history, and as such will never be torn down, but built upon and truly refined.

Our reader hates fashion trends and fads; he requires more depth, more precedent — historical, philosophical, ethical, literary. He is a man of details, of patience, and therefore of good taste.

What first got you interested in men’s style, what inspired you to start Valet and where has the journey taken you since?

When I was a mere child, I was said to have been obsessed with shoes. I would ‘borrow’ my father’s dress shoes and use them as models for my own sketches and designs. I also toyed with becoming an architect at one point, and so structure, simplicity, symmetry, and comely interplays between line and form have always interested me. The fact you can actually wear something that exhibits these facets is exciting.

Since starting Valet, my journey has mostly been characterised by learning. There was a lot I didn’t know about the industry before having terrific contributors send me long pieces dealing with some esoteric themes or other related to men’s style. Long may it continue!

Can you tell us a little bit about the latest issue?

Well, the first thing to know about Valet is that every issue has loads of content, to the tune of about 280 pages of original editorial. Our fourth and latest issue deals with the themes of work, sweat, and toil through the lens of classic men’s style. It has pieces covering subjects from how what we wear to work influences our perception of the world and our fellows’ perception of us, how transitioning in and out of our work uniform affects our psychology, and how even today, men’s traditional style is evolving for the better. We also interview Stephen Fry about his massive tie collection and the general decline of civilisation we are incessantly witnessing. There’s a little peek!

We live in a world where everything moves fast and people’s attention has dropped significantly. A printed magazine forces us to slow down and enjoy the moment. What’s your take on it and how do you see the future of magazines?

Printed reading material is going nowhere. The stuff that never belonged in print anyway—vapid nonsense about fashions, trends, and celebrity gossip—is moving online, and good riddance. That stuff was meant to be consumed quickly with a minimum of focus, and so wasting precious paper on printing it was never going to be a long-term thing.

Real journalism will never work that way. Engaging properly with a text takes time, and is therefore better provided by a printed volume. It really is that simple.

The issue for people who want to read properly researched, enlightening, challenging, long-form texts about men’s style is the lack of choice. There really isn’t much going. We’re doing our little part to try to fill some of that very, very large gap.

You’re a relatively new magazine: what obstacles have you had to overcome during your entrepreneurial journey so far?

We launched at the beginning of the pandemic. Lockdowns were very difficult, as were sharp rises in the cost of production. But we managed to scrape through thanks to our subscribers! We are still very young, so I don’t want to offer up any maxims or lessons learnt. I will when I have some to share.

Where do you see Valet in five years?

As a collective of men with what will then be over 20 handsome volumes adorning their bookshelves, and a mind furnished with a wealth of insights around the eternal qualities of timeless style.

Name the best song or album or movie to go with your magazine.

Anything by Bertolucci. And any of the songs we use in our YouTube videos and Reels.

Leave us with a motto that Valet will always believe in.

Any truly real sophistication or style has no choice but to be timeless.

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