20 December 2005

Like most geeks I'm not much interested in fashion or having this season's styles. My philosophy is there isn't much point worrying about the packaging when there's nothing attractive about the contents. But I've had a few conversations with my geek friends about clothes, enough to inspire this entry.

Since I (and my conversational partners) aren't that interested in style, what is important? The conversation has focused on function - particularly for people who travel an inordinate amount.

  • Minimal Care: no ironing for a start (even popping over to have them laundered is too much trouble these days.) For vacation travel this goes even further - I want shirts that I can wash in a hotel sink and be dry and reasonably presentable in the morning.
  • Easy packing: light weight, small volume, nothing that wrinkles too easily.
  • Flexible: I may visit a client one day and go hiking the next. I want things I can use in different situations so I can still fit everything in the carry-on bag.
  • Pockets: I can never have too many pockets to put things in.

Over the last couple of years my backbone supplier has been TravelSmith. They have a whole catalog full of stuff, and I've been very happy with what I've got from them. Particular favorites include: the Great Escape and Air Conditioned shirts, microfiber pants, several of their jackets, and a double vote for their travel rain coat. I find that not just is their gear good, but their customer service is excellent. I've had no trouble returning things that didn't work out for me.

TravelSmith is my first port of call, then other suppliers fill in with particular items I like.

ScottEVest make jackets with a crazy amount of pockets, I've tried both their system jacket and their plain vest.

When in the UK I was fond of Rohan's stuff, and I have several favorite items from there. However they have two main problems for me. Firstly they aren't cheap, and the dollar/sterling exchange rate makes them overpriced compared to TravelSmith. Secondly whenever they make something I really like, they promptly discontinue it.

Barmah make good foldable leather hats. Although they do make you look worryingly australian, they are really handy and practical in sun or rain. For cooler weather I try to track down tweed flat caps.

For very sharp looking shirts, I really like Brook Brothers's non-iron shirts. They come out the tumble dryer looking like they were freshly ironed.