4 July 2012

On A Journey

Encens Magazine (No. 22)
Photographer: Sybille Walter
Stylist: Samuel Drira
Model: Corentin Berger
(scanned by MulletProof)

You check into a hotel room. You have a single bed, a single wardrobe, a single desk, a single lamp, a single suitcase of clothes. You dress out of that suitcase for however long. You have nothing more than what you bring - the garments you thought most appropriate and practical, distilled from your wider wardrobe for the sole purpose of this journey. You were limited by what you could carry with you but you realize that it is enough. In fact often what you find is that you packed more than you actually needed. This pair of shoes were never worn or that pair of trousers were not practical. You went through a long and considered process when deciding what to pack, and now as you dress there is no thought, only what you feel like wearing and what is functional. You are secure in the knowledge that what you packed fits you and looks good on you. And so for a brief moment you are free. Of indecision, of burdens, of excess. You have only what you brought with you, and that is enough.

I would never want to live in a hotel for any extended period of time. The idea feels cold and lonesome. There would be no room for others, let alone all your non-clothing possessions. But what I do find alluring is the sense of freedom from modern material life that traveling provides. You have with you only that which you thought most prudent and necessary for the journey, and therein is a great simplicity. Yes, you will inevitably pick things up along the way as reminders of where you once were, but the idea of having such little, and thus such freedom, is for me incredibly appealing. However it is the process behind packing that suitcase that interests me most - of eliminating anything that falls into the category of maybe, and thus freeing yourself to fully enjoy every single piece you carry. There is nothing you are unsure of, for you know every single garment you carry.

This is a method that I find relates well to the wider process of building a wardrobe, let alone pairing that wardrobe down for a very specific set of circumstances. The considerations you make for that single suitcase apply to the considerations you have to make for a wardrobe: you consider what you need, you consider what you want, you consider what will be suitable, and you consider what will make you feel like you even in a totally alien environment. Admittedly the reality is that we do not buy clothing for a single purpose or single journey - it must fulfill a multitude of roles in a multitude of social situations. However I think the approach is very much the same, and as such it is a method that can be easily translated to both a broader and more specific set of considerations. You need clothing that works for your life, and that works for you, otherwise it risks being merely costume.

I really do believe that the sense of freedom encountered with that single suitcase can be experienced with your wardrobe, let alone in how you choose to live. However in order to do so, you must necessarily question your current model of consumption and make changes where needed. We are taught to buy - faster fashion, larger portions, bigger screens, newer gadgets. We replace object after object, without thinking, and so it happens that consumption itself becomes what we crave rather than the end product. It is a trend I find quite alarming. I would argue that we ought to spend more, but buy less. Spend more time thinking about the full consequence and reality of a purchase before committing. It may perhaps seem a curious idea at first, but when one considers that the average British woman apparently has eight to ten pieces of clothing in her wardrobe with the tags still attached, it seems odd not to think that a change is needed. To nab a delightful turn of phrase from Mr. Rabkin, we have gorged ourselves on fast fashion, and now must vomit it back out. Reduce and refine. Maybe we can find that sense of freedom together.



  1. Little different from traveling,but I will start to pack my favorite clothing and lot of souvenir soon. Because I will go back to Tokyo next week alone for 3 weeks!

    Summer in Tokyo is worst season,very hot and very humid. Also maybe no air conditioner this year by no nuclear energy(I prefer NO NUKE!!!) Still exciting!

    Have a wonderful summer,checking your blog is same ritual in Tokyo too!

  2. M: Hope you have a totally wonderful time in Tokyo!! And packing clothes for a super hot and humid climate must be quite the challenge. Sounds fun though :)

  3. Loved your take on this. Great commentary!

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