MENSWEAR

Stu­art Hus­band sug­gests looks that are both smart and prac­ti­cal for life on the road

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS -

There’s an old Chi­nese proverb: “He who strikes the best deal will al­ways be wrin­kle­free.” Well, ac­tu­ally, there isn’t – we just made it up – but it’s an apho­rism that will strike a chord with any worldly gen­tle­man whose busi­ness trip to Shang­hai – or San Fran­cisco, or Stock­holm – has been blighted by wardrobe mal­func­tions of the creased, rum­pled, or wrong-side-of-the-smart-ca­sual-di­vide kind.

“Lots of friends of mine have im­por­tant se­nior jobs in global com­pa­nies,” says Mats Kling­berg. “And they get quite stressed about the idea of pack­ing for a trip that takes in meet­ings, fancy din­ners and more ca­sual events. How can they put to­gether a se­ries of dif­fer­ent looks that en­sures they look fresh and smart enough for each oc­ca­sion with­out be­ing too over-bur­dened?”

Luck­ily, Kling­berg is in a great po­si­tion to help them out. He runs Trunk, a Lon­don menswear em­po­rium whose stock is rich in the modern crease-re­sis­tant fab­rics and for­mal-in­for­mal blur­ring that can keep men look­ing sharp from shore to shore. To­day, he’s wear­ing a soft-shoul­dered navy blazer by Ital­ian brand Bogli­oli – “It’s cot­ton, with a touch of elas­tane to al­low for stretch; you could fold it into your bag and it would just snap back in place when you took it out.”

He has teamed it with Trunk’s own-brand pale blue Ox­ford shirt, a navy “ice cot­ton” crew neck by Ja­panese brand Zanone, a pair of Trunk beige chi­nos and brown suede Crock­ett and Jones chukka boots. “It’s a look that should be smart enough for most oc­ca­sions, but you can dress it up with a knit­ted tie or dress it down with a pair of jeans,” he says. “It’s a modern sil­hou­ette and it’s quite ef­fort­less. Tex­ture and cut play a big part; you don’t nec­es­sar­ily look re­laxed if you’re in a very struc­tured Sav­ile Row suit and you just take off your tie. So this is a happy mid­dle ground. And given that dress codes are break­ing down, this is the area that men re­ally need to con­cen­trate on.”

Of course, there are some long-haul or short­hop en­gage­ments where a re­as­sur­ingly for­mal look might still be called for, but to­day’s high-tech fab­rics can help to give a lit­tle ex­tra bounce to your pre­sen­ta­tion. Quite lit­er­ally so, in the case of Paul Smith’s A Suit to Travel In – the de­signer

hired Bri­tish Olympic gym­nast Max Whit­lock to demon­strate its im­per­vi­ous­ness to the knot­ti­est flips, ips, whips and cart­wheels he could throw at it.

“The yarn comes from the un­der­belly of a Merino sheep, where the hair is re­ally long,” Smith says. “They twist it so the cloth is wo­ven very tight. This means that when the suit is made, it’s got this lus­trous, lively qual­ity.” This sea­son, the Suit to Travel In comes in Smithian shades of turquoise and dark green win­dow­pane check, as well as navy and grey.

Even the stal­warts of May­fair are loosening up – par­tic­u­larly the more cutting-edge end of that au­gust area, as rep­re­sented by Thom Sweeney, which is at­tuned to the fre­quent-flyer needs of clients such as David Gandy, Der­mot O’Leary and Michael Fass­ben­der; its Weigh­house suit comes in crease-re­sis­tant wool with a softer shoul­der, yet re­mains im­pec­ca­bly smart.“We just got back from Italy,” says co-founder Luke Sweeney, “and I took a navy flan­nel suit, a grey flan­nel trouser, jeans, two shirts, a knit­ted tie, and a roll-neck, all in a small case. Out of that I had, what, five out­fit op­tions?”

“Cer­tain fab­rics have al­ways worked for travel, like a fresco or a hop­sack,” says fel­low founder Thom Whid­dett. “Some­thing with a springy weave. But there are great tech-in­fused ones around now, from the likes of Loro Piana. Their high-tenac­ity weaves are

‘Op­tions for busi­ness trav­ellers have im­proved a lot, both in terms of choice and of what’s ac­cept­able to wear’

in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile – any suit or jacket in those would stay com­pletely crease-free and be pack-proof.”

“They’ve come on a bun­dle,” nods Sweeney. “The very first travel suit I came across felt a bit pa­pery, but now you can have the best of all worlds – some­thing that looks beau­ti­ful, feels great, and wears re­ally well. A nice fu­sion be­tween dura­bil­ity and luxe.”

That fu­sion in­forms whole ranges that big­ger brands now produce with the glo­be­trot­ter in mind. For its spring-sum­mer 2017 col­lec­tion, the Hugo Boss Travel Line puts light­ness, breatha­bil­ity and ver­sa­til­ity at the fore­front, with softly con­structed slim-fit suit jack­ets in nat­u­ral wool with me­chan­i­cal stretch, and for­mally cut jersey trousers that marry sar­to­rial heft to track-pant com­fort.

Its sin­gle-breasted sports jacket fea­tures en­larged in­ter­nal pock­ets for pass­port or tick­ets, plus in­te­rior loops to hold ear-buds in place, and can be packed away into an in­te­grated bag. Busi­ness shirts com­bine stretch-tech, mois­ture-wick­ing fab­ric, and an aloe vera-en­riched cloth; the ul­tra-soft but sturdy re­sult will with­stand the harsh­est in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal rigours.

Even out­er­wear is en­gi­neered for max­i­mum util­ity and min­i­mum fuss, with re­versible two-in-one jack­ets get­ting a holdall’s worth of looks out of cabin bag­gage ca­pac­ity, and a bomber jacket ren­dered vir­tu­ally weight­less in re­silient rip­stop fab­ric.

Kling­berg says: “The op­tions for busi­ness trav­ellers have def­i­nitely im­proved a lot in the past few years, both in terms of the choices avail­able to them and of what’s now ac­cept­able to wear.” The racks at Trunk are a tes­ta­ment to that, from a cot­ton-linen navy blazer by cult Span­ish brand Man 1924 (“It’s very re­laxed, but looks sharp with a polo shirt and pocket square”), to a beige Bogli­oli jacket in a cashmere/silk blend (“This won’t date, and can be re­ally smartened up or quite slouchy – an in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile piece”). “It’s all about ease and con­fi­dence, and stand­ing out in the right kind of way,” he adds.

“These in­no­va­tions have all been driven by de­mand,”says Thom Whid­dett of Thom Sweeney, demon­strat­ing a few pieces – a grey wool/silk/linen jacket, a rain­coat with de­tach­able gilet – that are tailored to make trav­ellers’ lives that lit­tle bit eas­ier, while re­main­ing unim­peach­ably busi­ness-classy. “If you can of­fer that mix of prac­ti­cal­ity and style, it’s one less thing for peo­ple to worry about.” Or, to put it an­other way, it’s one more wrin­kle ironed out.

From far left: Paul Smith’s A Suit to Travel In; Hugo Boss Travel Line

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