One particular “fashion” interest of mine – thinking of Clothe to Home – are pieces that are avant-garde in their materials and qualities, but not too visibly special, let alone fashionable, in their design; made to look timeless (or perhaps rather, fashionless) and, more importantly, but not visibly, to perform in a variety of conditions.
Clothing, then, to feel at home in and be at home in many a place.
After all, outdoors gear may be good for withstanding all different kinds of weather, but isn’t truly appropriate for better company (accepted as it has become in most ordinary circumstances).
Stylish clothes, on the other hand, all too often don’t exactly protect and can be quite a nuisance.
For being able to get by with just a few pieces, with getting by meaning both being well-dressed in terms of looks and being well-dressed in terms of functionality, then, it takes a peculiar class of products.
Peculiar, as pieces like those from Arc’teryx Veilance sure are.
What most people see, if they ever become aware of the existence of clothing lines like these, are very high prices for products described in very unusual ways (and in the case of Veilance, from a brand better known for its outdoors roots). These kinds of clothes, often termed urban techwear, certainly do play with both a luxury/special-class appeal and a desire to feel ensconced in a shell with a nearly special forces-appeal, but not quite that look.
It manages to remind one of the reason sometimes given for why a woman would wear sexy underwear when no one can see it – to make herself feel sexier and stronger and more self-assured – but in a male-oriented fashion that is somewhat “gear-queer” – in the way in which William Gibson had one of his protagonists in “Zero History” explain it:
“It’s an obsession with the idea not just of the right stuff, but of the special stuff. Equipment fetishism. The costume and semiotics of achingly elite police and military units. Intense desire to possess same, of course, and in turn to be associated with that world. With its competence, its cocksure exclusivity.”
(Maybe I should mention here that Gibson – @greatdismal, whose latest novel, The Peripheral, is out, by the way – certainly knows a thing or two about that himself; he has been seen in Veilance pieces before, and they sure fit his cyberpunk worlds, too…)
That all can sound odd, perhaps even negative.
If you couldn’t care less about your clothes, just want to be dressed and not have spent a lot, you can certainly get by differently, travel with just what you have on you and then get some cheap T-shirts and pants after you have arrived.
Clothing can also be about wearing things that protect, physically in functioning well as protection against the elements and comfortable temperature regulation, and psychologically in providing its wearer with a decent, well-groomed look and an expression of individual style, though.
I’m no clotheshorse, but not a guy to run around with sagging pants and shirts hanging out of them, either. So, at home same as at home on the road, I want to travel with just a few select pieces that will work – but I want to have the clothes that I consider mine, not run through throwaway things.
Two to three different kinds of pants, two kinds of shirts, one or two pullovers, one blazer and one jacket.
Around 10 pieces and I’m set for half a year, going from a hot summer to a cold winter, the way I want to look.
Yes, it is not cheap, but there are more expensive brands in urban tech, let alone in luxury menswear (and in Europe, in many other regards). The quality, functionality and durability – and un-fashionableness/timelessness – of the Veilance pieces is of the highest, the customer service stands by their assurances if something still happens to fail (as you’ll hear in my video reviews, that does happen), and so it makes for a way of clothing that I, for one, certainly feel at home in, and feel that it makes me more at home in the world, outside and in ‘fashion’ terms, with no need to constantly get new clothes, and no need to spend a lot of time thinking of just what to wear for the conditions and the occasion.