Accessories come back to first class This holiday season, I'm celebrating the return of style to travel accessories by giving everyone on my shopping list something to wear or take on a trip.
Once upon a time, everything about travel was chic. But around the late '60s, it became acceptable for tourists to look dowdy, to pack old clothes that would be jettisoned to make space in their luggage for souvenirs, to equip themselves with cheap stuff instead of investing in more expensive, efficient, beautifully designed travel things. It all conspired to make tourists look shabby. The inclination to cut a good figure on the road without looking ostentatiously rich which can make a traveler a mark for crime isn't solely a matter of vanity. If you dress well, you'll be treated better in restaurants and hotels. In Paris or London, you'll feel more as though you belong. The hassles of travel are smoothed when you carry the right bag. The people who make luggage and other travel accessories are starting to get the word, as are travel gear retailers. I noticed everything about travel was getting more stylish when I subscribed to kate spade purse look alike the English magazine Wallpaper. It covers global styles, not just in art, fashion and architecture but also in travel from destinations to accessories. "Many travel specific brands fall well foul of the mark when it comes to good design," says Jeroen Bergmans, Wallpaper's travel editor. "Just as the spate of design led properties in the hotel industry is starting to influence even the most stalwart, traditional hotels, luggage manufacturers are finally recognizing that the next generation of travelers has come to expect good, modern design in every aspect of their lives." In Wallpaper I learned about the opening four years ago of Flight 001, a store in New York's Greenwich Village that sells cool stuff for travelers. The flagship Flight 001 was followed by an outlet in San Francisco and, this fall, by one on West 3rd Street in Los Angeles. to New York, stopping in such exotic entrepots as Bangkok, Thailand; Beirut; and Istanbul, Turkey. In its glory days in the '50s and '60s, Flight 001 set the style in travel, with seamless service and trim stewardesses in Jackie Kennedy suits. John Sencion and Brad John, the store's founders, worked for years in the garment industry, traveling the world to shop for styles and manage overseas production. On a plane from New York to Paris, they decided to start Flight 001 because, as John says, "it's really difficult to find stylish things for travel." Using their apparel industry savvy, they canvass the world for hip travel gear: sleek, colorful Tusk passport wallets, Jack Spade carry on bags, Samsonite Black Label suitcases with combination zipper locks and sturdy but gracefully designed department stores that carry kate spade trolley handles. They produce a line of vintage like Pan Am bags and shaving kits in bright '60s colors, such as sky blue and lime green; repackage items they get from suppliers earplugs, toothpaste, eyeshades to make them look cooler; and wrap gifts with a sticker that recalls an airline baggage tag. But it isn't just the merchandise that delights. The stores are designed to evoke kate spade outlet return policy the experience of flying in the good old days, with concave walls like those of an airplane cabin, bags displayed in a mock luggage claim area and the cash register ensconced in what looks like an airline check in counter. As a result, cruising through Flight 001 makes you excited again about getting on a plane. It is part of a trend that has transformed certain stores into travel and entertainment destinations in themselves, more devoted to selling concepts than merchandise. One such store is Song in the City, which promotes Song Airlines, a low fare passenger carrier operated by Delta. new spades The store if you can call it that opened in New York's SoHo district for the holiday shopping season, through Dec. 21. The store gives people a chance to get to know Song's flying style with an entertainment area demonstrating the airline's state of the art, in flight satellite television. Kate Spade designed Song's flight attendant uniforms, an indication of the airline's reach for chicness. I haven't flown on Song yet and can't assess how much of it is about style and how much is substance. I do know that, in the end, an airline or a suitcase has to serve its function. That's the mandate of Magellan's, a travel store in Santa Monica I almost always find reason to visit before a trip. It was opened in 2002 by a major catalog and Internet travel gear supplier with headquarters in Santa Barbara.
It sells all the practical stuff a traveler needs: adapter plugs, locks, hidden money pouches. Co owner John McManus says that when it comes to travel gear, "comfort comes first, then functionality, with style a distant third.".
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