TRAVEL WELL

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As luggage goes, the “International” line from Tumi is about as chic as you can get. Made of beautiful tan leather imported from South America, it has the technical convenience Tumi is known for, combined with a design that is second to none. The price is pretty steep at $1,895, but for a private-jet-worthy carry on, price will probably never be an issue. Available at Tumi.

 

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YOUR SUMMER WEEKENDER

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Skip the fancy leather duffel this summer and opt instead for a bright, bold and durable workhorse like the Base Camp duffel by North Face. Its heavy-duty fabric withstands a lifetime of abuse, and shoulder straps allow for comfortable carrying as a backpack. Daisy chains make it easy to tie to a car roof rack. Available in black, but Summit Gold gets our nod for summer adventures. $95, available at North Face.

A CLOSER LOOK: ZARA

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Zara, as many American men are, it’s time to take a closer look. The savvy retailer creates the type of clean, modern essentials devoid of logos that stand up against the much higher priced competition. Founded in Spain in 1974, the company is now valued at over $10.1 billion, making it #51 on Forbes list of “World’s Most Valuable Brands.” (Apple #1, Louis Vuitton #10.) Often mistaken as a brand focused on women, the menswear continually impresses, with outerwear, bags and small leather goods particular stand-outs. Add a comforting dose of sophistication to your spring wardrobe without breaking the bank. A few of our favorites:

 

Double-Breasted Trench Coat, $149:

 

Baltic Blue Leather Credit Card Holder, $30:

 

Sport Briefcase, (not leather, hence the friendly price) $89:

 

 

NORTH FACE ROLLING THUNDER

 

This rugged “Rolling Thunder” travel duffel from North Face is exactly what you need this winter. That girl you were admiring on the short flight to Denver? She’s now looking your way as you collect your gear in baggage claim. Black gets our nod but the gray is a close second. $289, available at North Face.

MAISON MARGIELA x GLOBE TROTTER

Avant-garde Belgian brand Maison Martin Margiela has teamed up with Globe-Trotter on a special edition 30″ suitcase. The handsome luggage piece is made of a distressed tan and black leather and will be available in MMM stores this coming March. No word yet on what it will cost.

KNOW THIS BRAND: KELTY

 

The ideal backpack for upcoming fall weekends: the 60th Anniversary Wing Pack by Kelty. In 1952, founder and visionary Dick Kelty began making backpacks out of his garage, selling 29 in his first year. Today you can find this Boulder, Colorado-based brand in top outdoor apparel retailers across the country, including Eastern Mountain Sports & REI. $154, available at Kelty.

THE GHURKA STORY

 

This is wonderful short film showing the history of the legendary Ghurka bag. The company was founded in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1975 and is a testament to traditional craftsmanship, American manufacturing, and smart branding. The logo crest alone is something other companies should take note of.

THE TIMELESS WEEKENDER

Traveling with style takes a certain laissez faire approach, all you really need is a beat up old leather bag, easy slip-on sneakers, and a good book. Never roll into your friends beach house with a roller. Never. The Venezia travel bag by Floto is made in Florence, using Italian calf-skin leather, with reinforced handles and polished stainless steel hardware. The key? No big logo, no repeat glitzy pattern. It’s your bag. $350, available at Floto. And check out the summer friendly striped canvas interior:  (more…)

ZARA WEEKENDER

 

Here’s a sharp, affordable bag option from Zara, well suited for the upcoming travel season. It’s just big enough to hold a pair of shoes, change of clothes, toothbrush and book, yet small enough for the office, with laptop and gym clothes. The best part? The price – at $99 it won’t break the bank. And while it’s not leather, it still looks pretty darn luxe. $99, available at Zara. Hit the road in style this summer. More pics: (more…)

APRIL 2013 MENSWEAR ESSENTIALS

Take a cue from the our friends across the Atlantic, who know a thing or two about battling the wind and rain. Keep a few things handy by the front door so you never miss a step while walking to the office. A well fitted, lightweight trench coat is mandatory come April. Beware the over sized, long robe-like trench that comes in questionable colors. This version from the Spaniards at Zara, the world’s largest retailer, is perfect. Cut a bit shorter, it layers comfortably over your sport jacket, while still looking (more…)

CARACALLA 1947 WEEKEND HOLDALL

These bags are sweet, love the proportion, bold color and racing inspired design. Guys will never lust after bags like women do, but when they start looking like this, that gap has narrowed a bit. I think it also has to do with the fact that so many men fail with their choice of bag, whether it’s a teal Jansport backpack from 8th grade, or worse, that leathery, everyman messenger bag that drapes like a purse and leaves your dress shirt looking like you just drove cross country in a sweat box. You can never go wrong with a classic briefcase, slimmed down leather portfolio, or in this case, a beautifully designed weeekender. Caracalla 1947 is named after the famous Italian circuit in Rome on which Ferrari (more…)

BROOKS BROTHERS IPAD PORTFOLIO

The use of graphic stripes of color, known as ‘color blocking,’ has been an incredibly popular trend for several years. Commonly found on scarves, hats, and sweaters, you can now find it used regularly on travel bags and leather goods, like the beautiful example above by Brooks Brothers. The “Mackintosh” iPad portfolio case is made with the same fabric as the iconic coat of the same name so it will hold up over time, has sharp leather trim and a brushed silver zipper. What’s cool about it is that it’s conservative enough to walk into any meeting, while remaining uniquely your own. $225, available at Brooks Brothers. Also available in khaki: (more…)

BILLYKIRK LARGE CARRYALL

Founded in 1999 by brothers Chris and Kirk Bray, Billykirk produces first rate, hand crafted leather goods, from iPod cases to sturdy overnight bags. Since it’s beginning, the brand has been part of the handmade in the U.S.A. movement, employing Amish workers in Pennsylvania to hand-stitch various elements of their collection. For fall, the smoke and brown large carryall shown above is a great alternative to the more somber black and gray bags in your hallway closet. And perhaps coincidentally, the rich color scheme looks like a giant oak turning in October. $348, available at Stag.

KNOW THIS BRAND: WOOD&FAULK

Wood&Faulk is a small brand based in Portland, Oregon created by Matt Pierce. His workshop sits in the back of a 103 year old house, where he creates everything from handkerchiefs to leather billfolds, to rugged weekend bags, like the “Northwesterner” featured above. “Wood&Faulk is my chosen moniker, and it comes from Woodrow and Faulkner – two streets that I lived on during my later time in Kansas. Back then, I learned so much about working on old houses, building furniture, plumbing, electrical, working (more…)

BEST OF SUMMER: ERNEST ALEXANDER

Accessories are one area where you can safely take risks. Watches, sunglasses, sneakers and beautiful bags, like this blazing orange Banker’s weekender from Ernest Alexander, will set you apart and help define your look. Having a duality with your style is important; next time you find yourself on a train heading south along the the Amalfi Coast and there’s an open seat (more…)

BEST OF: FJALLRAVEN

 

Fjallraven is one of those cooler outdoor lifestyle brands that you may never have heard of. Based in Sweden, the company began manufacturing day packs over 50 years ago. “Fjallraven” translates to arctic fox in Swedish, in case you we’re wondering. Here are a few top picks from their website: The Fjell jacket in Uncle Blue, $230. This is a highly water resistant, wind proof and durable jacket that isn’t bulky, making it a perfect year-round option. Vintage Retro L backpack in bold red, $130. This is where the company shines, and (more…)

THE ALASKA DUFFLE BY L.L. BEAN

Anything named the “Alaska” has a stout leg up on the competition. Makes you feel like an adventurer, even if it’s just a train ride to the beach and not a trek in the deep woods. I spotted this bag at a recent press preview in New York for the L.L. Bean Signature collection designed by the talented and genuine Mainer, Alex Carlton. He’s been hard at work taking pieces from the vast L.L. Bean archives and updating them to make them a bit more modern. This is one of those bags your son will appreciate twenty years from now. Made of a rugged cotton and leather. Alex promised me a tour of the archives during my next visit to Maine, my home state, so look out for more on that later this spring. $225, available at L.L. Bean.

L.L. BEAN SIGNATURE BACKPACK

There just aren’t too many items in a man’s closet that get better with age. Suits wear thin, shirts fray, tee shirts rip. It’s your denim, leathers and maybe those chukka boots by the door that will last a decade or two. You can safely add this waxed canvas backpack by L.L. Bean Signature to the list. Inspired by vintage rucksacks from the L.L. Bean archives, it’s rugged, functional and made for treks into the deep woods, or simply propped up next to your drafting table at the office. Made in Maine with the same canvas used in the iconic L.L. Bean boot. $225, available at L.L. Bean.

KNOW THIS BRAND: WANT LES ESSENTIELS DE LA VIE

Ok first things first, the name, and remember it because these guys are good: WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie literally means the essentials of life. The super talented designers, and twin brothers, Dexter and Byron Peart clearly put a lot of thought into each and every detail of their bags: full-grain, smooth leathers from French and Italian tanneries, natural fibers and organic cotton, and their signature gold-and-silver zip closure. WANT is carried a number of top retail stores including Nordstrom (where I spotted the above bag in Seattle), Barney’s, 10 Corso Como, Opening Ceremony, and growing fast. This beautiful summer-appropriate navy cotton-canvas and red leather tote can be purchased for $395, available at Mr. Porter. The designers:  (more…)

AMERICAN MADE: J.PANTHER LUGGAGE

This clever video deftly captures the functional spirit of the “Courier Ruc Case” by J. Panther Luggage Co. I spoke with the founder and designer of the company, Johnny Diamandis, to find out more about his new company, the importance of being Made in the USA and what the plans for the future are. If you are a fledgling designer, or creative type who appreciates well-made products, Johnny is a good person to hear from.

 

How important is being made in the USA to your brand and business strategy?

It’s very relevant. All business start up fashion brands should have as close a relationship as possible with their factories in my view, as without that, it would be equivalent to being a chef without access to the kitchen. I can jump on a train and be in Connecticut in an hour or two to go over details and construction or other issues and be back in NY in the afternoon. This level of collaboration with our makers is critical to us in that we (more…)

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