Last summer, Aronne Miola invited a select group of fashion industry VIPs on a sunset helicopter ride high in the sky over Florence, Italy. The owner of the firm Gruppo Forall, which makes suits under the Pal Zileri label, was underscoring his belief that modern menswear should be designed for travel. After whizzing between Brunelleschi’s 13th-century Duomo and Giotto’s bell tower, the chopper ultimately flew over the city’s famed Via de Tornabuoni, one of many prime shopping districts where, Miola hopes, world travelers will soon be purchasing his durable new Cruiser collection.
To be sure, Cruiser is a fashion concept whose time has come. It consists of a cotton canvas duffle bag that—for those who are just too busy to pack—is equipped with a cotton suit, a polo shirt, and a woven dress shirt—enough options to get you through a weekend getaway with ease. While the notion may seem to have Gap overtones, Cruiser is being made and marketed by Pal Zileri, with the idea that even the well-off need, well, time off.
Miola’s clever concept is the latest in a string of travel-friendly innovations that have been introduced over the past decade. For example, designer Issey Miyake’s condensed cottons compress to the width of tissue paper for easy packing, and New York retailer Paul Stuart’s “silky-powder” wool suits are sprayed with silk protein for wrinkle resistance.
Italian suitmaker Brioni’s contribution is the relaunch of its executive travel jacket, a design that originated 30 years ago for the now-defunct Eric Ross store in Beverly Hills. The 18-pocket jacket, produced in both a fine Tasmanian wool and a more sporty cotton gabardine, is designed with designated places for everything from keys and wallet to cell phone, newspaper, and passport. Originally, the many pockets were intended for travelers to separate their lire from their pounds and francs, a notion that seems quaint only a year after the introduction of the euro.
Meanwhile, Allegri, the cutting- edge Italian outerwear maker, has developed a ballistic nylon/ polyamide three-quarter-length, leather-trimmed car coat that is lightweight but built like a piece of luggage, to withstand the rigors of modern travel. Other practical Allegri introductions include machine-washable sport jackets and trench coats made of a stain-resistant blend of viscose, wool, and elastin.
Now that you can pack durability and stain-resistance, why not a few wrinkles, too? Lorenzini has taken an if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em approach with its selection of prewashed and starched dress shirts that come with the wrinkles already ironed into place. A few hours or days in a suitcase only enhances the novel fashion statement, jokes company president Mirta Lorenzini. Rest assured, she adds, “All of the wrinkles are designed to rinse out with the first laundering.”