The Garment Bag

On a recent business trip, as I wandered past the hoards of travellers, waiting to collect their cases at the carousel I closed my eyes in relief that I had packed a bag small enough to be placed in the overhead locker. I also congratulated myself, modestly, in choosing to wear the one suit that I would need. It would have been quite impossible to squeeze it into my Gladstone travel bag.

On that occasion, I had no need for further luggage. However, there will be occasions on which I will need more room to store the travelling items of my wardrobe. And, despite there being the option of laundry and dry cleaning at the destination, I would rather I save the cost and inconvenience by packing correctly.

Folding jackets and trousers is a tricky business and having looked into crease and wrinkle free folding methods in some detail I realised that there is no foolproof process; I always seem to cause abuse.

The rucksack is certainly the most important item of luggage for the backpacking tourist and many women cite the vanity case as their most treasured item. For the gentleman of style, the garment or suit carrier must rank as one of, if not the most important item of luggage. Jackets and trousers are placed securely inside, zipped up and folded over for carrying. A simple process, but such a vital one. The carrier is also compact and adaptable enough to push through the security scanners at even the most Draconian of international airports, favourable for the business traveller disinclined to see their precious garments disappear into the unseen and unknown of the luggage hold.

And keeping such garments close at hand is perfectly logical; a suit is often the most expensive item in a gentleman’s luggage, unless you happen to be a Berluti or Lobb aficionado, and it’s natural to keep such valued items at your side. The only thing is, the bag must be worthy of the suit; no fine threads should be carried in something that squeaks and rustles. Leather carriers are popular. They age exceptionally well and they offer more than adequate protection for fine cloths. However, some might find them a little heavy and if you’re carrying more than one suit, this can be a problem with those carting significant amounts of hand luggage.

Canvas carriers look very smart and have the added advantage of being waterproof (or at least water resistant); vital for those visiting less clement parts of the world. They are also lighter than all-leather bags and, due to the leather on canvas bags being small in area and merely decorative albeit marginally protective, they are consequently less expensive. However not all canvas bags are hard wearing and considering the significant ‘wear and tear’ involved with travelling, a bag should be selected with careful consideration of the quality of materials involved.

Pickett, Aspinal, Brics and Tumi manufacture high quality garment bags that will last for many years in high quality canvases and leather. Vuitton, though it hardly needs mention, also manufacture suit carriers – some of which can carry up to five suits at once – although they are considerably more expensive and it is advisable to avoid the ubiquitous Monogram and Damier canvases.