You might have thought that the news of the launch of a new travel wear line in the teeth of a pandemic would be provocative. But, one, the fashion industry does not and, indeed, cannot, operate on the same timetable as the rest of us. Two, travel is as much in the mind as it is on a plane or train. And three, when the designer in question is Brunello Cucinelli, the king of casual luxury, any new line is worth a look.
Despite having always lived and worked mere miles from his birthplace, Cucinelli is an inveterate traveller, both literally and figuratively. One of his favourite thinkers is the 6th century BC Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who famously declared that a journey of many miles starts with a single step. ‘The best way to start a journey is a commitment to knowledge,’ he says. ‘You have to study your destination – its history, people and traditions. Similarities to your own culture are as important as the differences. I strongly believe in the existence of a universal humanism.’
Planning your wardrobe is another source of pleasure. Having been unable (and unwilling) to travel overseas for the past few months, we decided to treat ourselves with a long weekend in Scotland to visit family in Perth. To make it more special and more comfortable, we booked the Caledonian Sleeper. Room in the cabins is, of course, limited so packing had to be carefully considered. And this is where Cucinelli’s collection is a perfect solution.
His must-have travel piece is a blue lightweight cashmere blazer. ‘It is an iconic garment and every man should have one in his wardrobe,’ he says. ‘I love to match it with light denim trousers and a white shirt, or light grey jogging pants and white polo shirt.’
Cucinelli’s personal favourite piece in the new collection, however, is the cashmere tracksuit. ‘This is a timeless, comfortable garment that retains the charm of classic artisan craftsmanship,’ he says. ‘The trousers have a crease running vertically down the front, a small detail that softens the otherwise sporty and casual style with a sartorial touch.’
But perhaps the true pleasure is always found in your mind. ‘I want everyone to have the opportunity in life to take the journey of their dreams,’ says Cucinelli. ‘Perhaps the real joy of travel comes from cherishing the idea of the journey. I think that the act of imagining your trip makes you a better person – especially if the dream eventually comes true. I really love going the distance, as much as the preparation and the anticipation – and, with luck, not to forget the value of your memories and thoughts on your return. This is the best way to soothe your soul.’
Mongolia is on the list of Cucinelli’s personal travel recommendations where he often visits on business to source the best cashmere – and the Pyramids. ‘But to be honest,’ he admits, ‘some of the greatest journeys I have taken have been in my mind, thanks to Plato, Epicurus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Through their words, I return to the Ancient Greek city states and to the glories of Ancient Rome. In short, to exceptional worlds and journeys that I would not give up for anything.’ So, I am already planning my next adventure – and I am enjoying the process so much that whether it comes off or not is almost immaterial. For the record, I want to go to Tromsø in the far north of Norway to enjoy some real winter weather and, hopefully, the Northern Lights. In my mind, I can already hear the silence of the snow falling on the city. And a cashmere tracksuit would be the perfect piece to pair with sturdy boots and a padded jacket to keep me warm and stylish in the sunless Arctic frost.