Retail / Global
Ahead of the pack
Whether you’re making for the shore, the slopes or the city, these four dedicated travel shops have enough covetable stock to really stretch your baggage allowance.
For the summer
“I wasn’t born to live by routine,” says Gonzalo Massa, co-founder of Mutate, a sunny clothing and homeware shop in Uruguayan fishing village José Ignacio (two hours by car from Montevideo). “I always loved to travel so I started gathering products in different places, brought them back to Uruguay and created a store,” says Massa. “Today I travel to Peru to buy alpaca shawls, Ecuador for Panama hats and the Himalayas for cashmere.”
The seed for Mutate was sown after Massa returned from a six-week holiday in India in 2003. The linen shirts he had found so accommodating in the sweltering Delhi heat were a huge hit back home. “Everybody was asking where to get them so I decided to make them myself,” he says. “I bought a few metres of the best fabric in the market and my neighbour, a tailor, became my mentor.” Massa sold his shirts to friends for 12 months before officially opening the shop in 2004. The crisp summer wear is now made by a team of local craftsmen.
Open during Uruguay’s summer from November to March, the José Ignacio shop is bright and airy, punctuated by mid-century Danish interiors and a few artfully placed ornamental wooden globes. (Mutate also has outposts in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.) “Our high season for sales is between December and January when we get the most tourists and visitors escaping the populated beaches of Punta del Este. We have everything you need: shorts, towels, beach bags, espadrilles and sunglasses,” he says. “We also have a good selection of books, which are a must for vacation.”
One of his bestselling summer products is a 1940s travel-size dominoes set, a far more sophisticated game than beach volleyball, according to Massa. “Our philosophy is to source well-made pieces that are developed in small scale. You can find our hand-cut linen shirts, alongside curious objects from around the world, to take home as souvenirs.”
Gonzalo Massa’s top picks
1. Mutate shirt:
It’s a classic, made from linen and produced in a small workshop in Montevideo.
2. Marané swim shorts:
We also sell the brand’s towels but the shorts are of excellent quality and fit.
3. Alba sweater:
These wool sweaters are great for a cool summer evening. They’re handmade in rural Uruguay.
4. Small chess set made in Europe:
It’s perfect for playing after dinner.
5. Handmade walnut cutting board:
Made by local artisan Krikor Abrahamian, this fits in a suitcase so is great to take home as a gift.
6. Set of six crystal glasses:
Made in 1940, these are perfect for the holiday home.
7. Romero espadrilles:
Originally worn by gauchos, these handmade leather shoes are cool and comfortable and have been remade in a contemporary style.
8. Panama hat:
Made in a small town in Ecuador using traditional methods, this offers protection from the Uruguayan heat.
For the urban traveller
Best Packing Store
Pioneering travel concept shop Best Packing Store was launched in 2013. “There weren’t many travel specialist stores then – I’m not even sure there are today,” says its 38-year-old founder Yusuke Inazuka, who opened his shop on the canal in Tokyo’s Nakameguro neighbourhood. “I was going overseas a lot so this is an extension of it really,” he adds by way of explanation for his retail venture.
Today Inazuka spends one third of the year travelling overseas, including visits to Paris Fashion Week with his trusted buyer Ryuichi Aono. “What we think of as travel isn’t just going somewhere far,” says Aono. “There is an element of travelling in our daily life too. What we select here is a collection of things we want to take, use and wear in those situations.”
The tiny shop is neatly filled with smart urban essentials – some of them fashion-forward – from an international mix of 20 brands, including oamc jackets, Engineered Garments waistcoats, Pieni card cases and Roa hiking shoes. “We don’t tell our customers how they should use each item; it’s up to their needs and imagination to find their own way. We sell trail-running shoes as a fashion item,” says Aono.
The eclectic mix has won Best Packing Store a loyal audience in Tokyo. “We used to have more outdoor themes before but today it’s more towards luxury. I think that’s the new [style of] travelling,” says Aono. “Fashion, performance and travel. This is our pyramid.”
Ryuichi Aono’s top picks
1. Best Pack Aloha shirt:
Our original label, Best Pack, has a smart travel blouson too.
2. Nomad carabiner iPhone charger:
This is a playful but functional design.
3. Lemaire raincoat:
It’s light to wear and easy to pack.
4. Casio G-Shock watch:
Durable and chic matte black.
5. Marni 3 Porter 2Way bag:
Tote or rucksack.
6. Onfadd ‘rain socks’:
A pair of silicon “socks” to protect your treasured shoes from the rain.
7. Adieu leather shoes:
An upper leather and chunky rubber sole to pound the pavement in style.
8. Salomon Advanced trainers:
We were the first in Japan to sell this French fashion line.
When John Hunt travelled from Sydney to Rome to row in the 1960 Olympics he was struck by the luggage options available in Europe, says Sophie Hunt, John’s daughter and the ceo of Hunt Leather. “Everyone was carrying beautiful luggage and when mum and dad returned to Australia they realised it was a desert when it came to travel goods.” So in 1975, “they started a shop to bring distinctive leather goods to Australia with a focus on niche, handcrafted objects”.
Hunt Leather now has five multi-brand luggage shops across the country in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Longchamp, Rimowa, Tumi and Troubadour are among the labels Hunt Leather brought to Australia; it also sells Australian items including Flynn handbags and Henty garment bags, plus its in-house collection of leather goods made in Spain, Italy and Colombia. Items range from check-in and carry-on luggage to passport holders, hats and scarves. “We operate with an overarching value proposition, whether it’s a au$3,000 case or a au$300 wallet,” says Hunt. “Our philosophy is about form, functionality and the joys of travel.”
The family-run business prides itself on shops as beautiful as the luggage they stock, all designed by Brisbane architect Adrian Spence. It also runs standalone Longchamp boutiques in Sydney and Melbourne, and a Rimowa outpost in Sydney. “We can’t keep up with demand for Rimowa,” says Hunt. “But we are seeing strong interest in quality brands that stand out by virtue of design and materials, from Bric’s and Longchamp – with their brilliant soft luggage – to Lojel, a young, reasonably priced brand with hard-sided cases in simple but standout designs.”
Sophie Hunt’s top picks
1. Rimowa Essential 73cm suitcase in gloss:
I love my red case as I can spot it on the carousel. Black is inconspicuous.
2. The Artists Label pure cashmere scarf:
This Australian brand’s cashmere scarf is soft, generous and wide. It’s so good for wearing on chilly airplanes.
3. Bric’s X-bag folding duffle:
This is great for a brief excursion, supermarket shopping or bringing home excess shopping.
4. Axel Mano travel hat:
Handmade, dyed and sewn in Sydney. Pack it flat – it’s light but still stylish.
5. Hunt weekender:
Use it for a trip to the English countryside or maybe to the south coast of New South Wales.
6. Troubadour Slipstream leather backpack:
It’s lightweight, strong and sleek, and it takes a laptop so you can go from meetings to the plane while looking sharp. Made in Italy from vegetable-tanned leather.
7. Troubadour ‘Ki’ small cross body bag:
This unisex, small-flap shoulder bag is made from one piece of leather. It has a back pocket for quick access to the boarding pass and passport.
8. Hunt organiser bag in red:
I wrote about this in a piece for our customer database recently and it has been flying out the door.
For the outdoors
Outdoor clothing is coming in from the cold – evidence of its embrace by the fashion world is everywhere. The trend doesn’t surprise Andrea Westerlind, whose eponymous shop in Manhattan’s Nolita neighbourhood has been selling elegant outdoor clothes and accessories since 2014, with healthy year-on-year growth. Westerlind now has four shops, the others in more rugged locations such as Jackson Hole and at the base of Powder Mountain in Utah.
The Nolita shop, with its combination of carabiners, technical jackets and luxe sweaters, offers an escape from Manhattan’s busy streets. Customers have described it as a “Swedish wonderland” and it’s easy to see why. Pale-toned walls and shelves made from aged timber are bathed in natural light. The clothes are mostly in black, navy and neutrals, and as they’re for people with “high incomes and small closets”, as Andrea puts it, they’re versatile.
That versatility is key to what outdoor clothing offers travellers. Fashion-conscious pieces cater for a long day of activities – whether skiing, sightseeing or back-to-back meetings – through to a night out on the town. At Westerlind, which stocks plenty of Scandinavian and Japanese labels, this is evidenced in Norway’s oldest sweater brand, Devold, which had never been exported until Westerlind modernised its cuts for the US urban market. Another standout is French sunglasses company Vuarnet, which crafts polarised mineral-glass lenses that are near impossible to scratch. These are great for the slopes while also looking good enough for après-ski.
Andrea, who was born and raised in Sweden, is “fascinated by how people dress in ski towns and vacation spots”, melding style and practicality. She grew up “going to amazing old shops in places like Gstaad, which had a mix of classic ski brands alongside silk jackets with horn buttons. One day I was in one of those shops with my dad and Sean Connery was there getting an embroidered linen shirt and a silk jacket. I thought that was so cool: ‘James Bond is here, buying a jacket,’” she says with a laugh. “That’s my inspiration: mixing classic alpine style with the super technical.”
Andrea Westerlind’s top picks
1. Westerlind silk scarf:
This is one of the most functional things you can have, as silk regulates your temperature and it’s super strong. It looks great over a technical jacket or at a dinner party.
2. Westerlind felt hat:
The brim will keep snow or rain out of your face. It’s wool so it keeps you cool when it’s hot and warms you up when it’s cold.
3. Aigle children’s Wellingtons:
These are natural rubber so they won’t crack. And they’re really cute.
4. A&F Fish Pen:
I’m a fly fisherwoman. You become happy when you use this pen because you think about fly fishing.
5. Helly Hansen top:
This top has spf 50 built in, so it’s great for sailing or windsurfing. It’s breathable and sustainably made – there are coffee beans in the fabric.
6. Goldwin technical suit:
It’s super chic. If you had to go straight from the plane to a meeting, this would be perfect.
7. Houdini Power Houdi:
This fleece jacket is super cosy; it’s a really good mid-layer for skiing. The Power Houdi is a good travel piece and it’s made from recycled material.
8. Clare V bum bag:
Traditionally you’d think of it as a purse but I just used it on a cross-country ski marathon. It doesn’t have to be nylon to be technical.