Cross-country: Heading West for a weekend in L.A.

Polka dots popping out. Taking my favorite Saturdays Surf NYC shirt and my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag. Luggage tag by Frank & Oak.

Polka dots popping out. Taking my favorite Saturdays Surf NYC shirt and my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag. Luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

Editor’s note: For more travel style dispatches, head here.

Out of the major American (and international) cities I’ve visited, I have perhaps the fondest memories of Los Angeles — and I only spent about twelve hours there. The last time I was in the L.A. area was, without question, one of the best weekends of my life — a trip West as part of a graduation gift to watch my beloved Michigan State Spartans take down Stanford in a legendary Rose Bowl game. I slept on a hotel room floor, edited stories from my phone as part of my work at The State News (MSU’s student newspaper) and basked in the glow of a historic school moment. Spending the next day driving around L.A. with my newspaper colleagues was particularly momentous after such a great win. But I quickly realized the city had more to offer — and when one of my best high school & college friends headed West earlier this year, I knew I had to make it back. So that’s where this weekend is set to take me — and as always, I resolved to travel in style despite the promise of pretty sweltering Los Angeles weather. (Let’s call this trip #StyleGuideLosAngeles, shall we?)

Three options for hot weather, pictured top to bottom -- lightweight JACHS NY grey chinos, flexible Mott & Bow dark denim and lightweight linen shorts from Frank & Oak.

Three options for hot weather, pictured top to bottom — lightweight JACHS NY grey chinos, flexible Mott & Bow dark denim and lightweight linen shorts from Frank & Oak.

I’m bringing along a good mix of product to combat the heat, starting with some linen shorts from Frank & Oak (as pictured above and detailed in this April post). I’m also bringing along a pair of Banana Republic khaki shorts and my Pistol Lake French Terry Sweatshorts, a seasonally-appropriate pickup from a brand that just happens to be based in L.A. They should pair nicely with one of my Pistol Lake V-neck tees. And that get-up should in turn go well with my ever-reliable GREATS Brand Rosen sneakers, a pair I’ve come to rely on in all sorts of situations. They’re exceptionally comfortable and work to dress down a blazer and T-shirt (a combination I’ll likely be wearing on the plane, as I’m heading to the airport after a half-day at work — #WheelsUp!). And should those sneakers need some time out of the rotation, I’m sure my GREATS Brand Wilson sneakers in White will definitely get the job done with multiple pant options.

Travel essentials for a cross-country trip. Russel Baseball Jacket by Grayers. Navy sneakers by GREATS Brand. Socks by American Trench. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Dive watch by Invicta. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Dopp kit by Baxter of California.

Travel essentials for a cross-country trip. Russel Baseball Jacket by Grayers. Navy sneakers by GREATS Brand. Socks by American Trench. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Dive watch by Invicta. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Dopp kit by Baxter of California.

On that front, I’m anticipating the weather to be quite hot — so my Mott & Bow dark denim should pair well with my Rust V-neck from Pistol Lake (check out that shirt here) and my navy GREATS sneakers. However, I’m ready to sub in my JACHS NY grey chinos, which are about the same weight as a Bonobos Washed Chino, should the situation call for it. I think the dark denim in particular will also team up nicely with two shirting options I’m bringing — my polka-dot Saturdays Surf NYC Esquina Oxford (from the Spring 2014 line), and my Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polo, featuring a nice royal blue color and a thin striped collar The polo in particular (seen more closely here) has a nice bit of stretch and a breathable fabric, key in the heat. My Mott & Bow denim should also do well in that regard. In case the weather does turn cooler, I’m bringing my trusty Russel Baseball Jacket from Grayers (as seen above), which should provide a crisp, versatile outerwear option. On my head, I’ll be throwing on my Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap — a favorite from a brand that really does know how to make great hats. To round out my apparel, some standout socks from American Trench (as discussed in this week’s Style Q&A) will definitely prove breathable and comfortable. Of course, no trip would be complete with a great timepiece — I’m expecting my stainless steel Invicta Pro Diver 8926 and my Classic Bristol Leather Watch from Daniel Wellington to work interchangeably with footwear I’m bringing (particularly my well-worn brown leather Coulter Chukkas — courtesy of my day job repping Timberland).

Grooming gear fit for the road ahead. Featuring Beard Oil & Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott, Shampoo from Baxter of Californina and the Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer.

Grooming gear fit for the road ahead. Featuring Beard Oil & Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott, Shampoo from Baxter of Californina and the Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer.

To round out my luggage and grooming situation, I’m hauling everything in, as ever, my Navali Stowaway Weeekender Bag and my hard-wearing Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag, both of which have provided formidable and tough options for carrying luggage across the globe. And as toiletries are just as key when traveling as at home, I’m rounding up some essentials to bring with me (in travel sizes, of course). My haul will include the Travel Essentials Kit from grooming giant Baxter of California, as well as some Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott and my Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer. I’ll be lugging it all in the Baxter Quilted Dopp Kit, which should make things easy to access throughout the trip. While I’m looking forward to sampling the finest food & drink *namely beer, can’t forget about the beer* that L.A. has to offer, I’m also hoping to meet with a brand I admire and whom I’ve interacted with a bit in the past — the fine folks at Apolis. After seeing a press preview of a neat industrial design project they’re working on, plus profiling  them for VOUCH Mag and GearHungry, it’s a definitely a cool opportunity.
Florsheim
As always, look for the regularly scheduled Friday Read post before I jet-set, along with a new Style Pick of the Week. Follow me during the trip via Instagram and Twitter, if that catches your fancy! And look for more from out West next week.

And do let me know — what’s on your must-see list in L.A.? Best restaurants or spots to check out? Drop me a line via Twitter or give me a shout in the comments!

Ben Sherman US

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Online Shopping Picks: Best Men’s Weekender Bags

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe. What are you packing this spring and summer?

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe. What are you packing this spring and summer?

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (and blog reader) asked me about recommendations for great weekender bags. It got me thinking – now that winter is finally thawing out, I’m sure lots of us have our eyes on spring or summer getaways. While hitting the road for a vacation  is always fun, a big part of the process is how you’re getting there & what you’re packing. And if you’re kitted out in a stylish get-up for the road, you need a bag that’s equally as sharp. Backpacks and sports duffle bags, although functional, don’t provide nearly enough room or the looks needed for longer travel. And while formal briefcases or suitcases work for business trips, the weekender bag is all about providing enough room for the essentials — and doing so in an easygoing fashion. Here are 5 great bags for the road ahead.

#1. Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag — $159.99

The Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag comes with a lifetime warranty, and should last a good long while.

The Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag comes with a lifetime warranty, and should last a good long while.

First seen on this blog back in August of last year, the Carafe color pictured here is now gone – but it’s been replaced with an equally stylish washed navy option or a spring-like “Sand” shade. The blue cotton canvas contrasts nicely with the brown leather fastenings, but it’s not all for show. Exterior pockets with strong buckle fastenings, tough zippers, a thick & comfortable shoulder strap and just enough for the essentials make this bag worth the price. Dimensions are 22″ width, 12″height, 8 1/2″ diameter.

#2. J. Crew Abingdon Weekender Bag — $198

Deep olive. Waxed cotton canvas. J. Crew's Abingdon bag.

Deep olive. Waxed cotton canvas. J. Crew’s Abingdon bag.

It’s tough to go anywhere on Siblings with Style without finding a J. Crew item in a shopping roundup — this is one company doing many things exceptionally. The Abingdon is slightly bigger than the Navali above in terms of height (17 1/2″), width (26″) and diameter (9 1/4″), so it can certainly carry more goods & take a bit of a beating. The waxed cotton canvas construction should age very nicely with increased usage too.

#3. Everlane Twill Weekender — $95 

Everlane's simple, clean take on the weekender.

Everlane’s simple, clean take on the weekender.

Everlane delivers a much more minimal, modernist (and cheaper) take on the weekender bag. The brand keeps things simple with a grey cotton twill exterior and black leather fastenings — no aged waxed cotton here, folks. Everlane’s bags really put the brand on the map and continue to be quite popular. Having used an Everlane twill weekender pretty extensively across the past summer in New York, these bags can definitely take quite a lot for the price.

#4. Filson Large Duffel Bag — $358

True heritage quality — and an heirloom-worthy price.

True heritage quality — and an heirloom-worthy price.

Filson has something the other brands on this list don’t — real, true heritage when it comes to make hardy outdoor gear. Only in recent years has the brand become known more among the fashion community, but it’s got years of experience outfitting hunters, fishers and outdoorsmen. Its bags are crafted from the same durable mindset. This duffle is a true beast of a bag, guaranteed for life and by far the most substantial weekender listed. The olive & tan versions are backordered, but navy and brown are in stock.

#5. Shinola Signature Duffle — $1,250

Exceptionally expensive. But also exceptionally well-made.

Exceptionally expensive. But also exceptionally well-made.

So this post isn’t really advocating you go out and drop more than A GRAND on a single bag. But, it’s always worth it to scout out what options are out there – and maybe keep a goal in mind for a future investment. This particular bag looks beautiful and features outstanding Horween leather and is individually stamped and numbered — those are the kind of details that bring the price up. The hardware is solid brass, and despite being leather, this bag should not only hold up but also age exceptionally well (it better for that price!). Available in black & brown, with a cognac number coming soon.

NOTE: Other bags that just missed the cut here include J. Crew Factory’s somewhat smaller but very affordable Carson duffle bag, Navali’s Waxed Stowaway Weekender in Olive and Frank & Oak’s Genuine Italian Leather Weekender. JackThreads is also stocking quite a few weekender bags for low prices at the moment.

What’s your favorite from this list? Any idea what you’ll be buying for your travels?

Ernest Alexander

The Product Review: Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe.

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe. A sturdy, durable bag at a great price. 

Hitting the road (or hopping on a plane) doesn’t mean style should take a backseat. In fact, far from it. Traveling is a great way to put both your packing skills and your passion for style into practice. And getting to a final destination in style is a big part of the trip itself. That’s why what you carry with you should reflect similarly fashionable ideals.  If you’re a discerning traveler or a man interested in looking presentable, it’s time to ditch the gym bag when outside the gym, and reach for something infinitely more durable, stylish rugged-looking. I found all of those traits with my Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag, and it’s definitely worth picking up, especially for under $100 (as it is right now on Navali’s website).

The particular model featured here (bought at full price) has a rich brown (or ‘carafe’) color, accented by darker brown leather straps and fastenings. It’s a sturdy bag that’s already held up fine for a cross-country trip to San Francisco, and should hold up well for the foreseeable future (Navali gives its Weekender bag a lifetime warranty). First and foremost, it’s got great functionality — it fit neatly under the seat in front of me on each plane trip, making for convenient and remarkably easy access. And as you can see from the below photo, it was packed fairly full:

Travel well: Most of the spread for a weekend music festival in San Francisco.

Travel well: Most of the spread for a weekend music festival in San Francisco.

Throughout the trip, it handled exactly like I hoped it would. Combined with a detachable shoulder strap, the bag was easy to carry — not too heavy to lug around when filled with clothes and shoes. The strap sat nicely on my shoulder and didn’t dig in or slip, a nice bonus when considering how frequently it’ll have to be carried through airports and the like. The bag’s zipper is strong and the top of the bag feels reinforced and not nearly as flimsy as my old Everlane Canvas Weekender bag (it doesn’t look like these are sold through their site anymore? Seems as if the sturdier Twill version has taken its place). Unfortunately, the Everlane bag suffered a bad rip, and the hole worsened from there — leading me to this Navali number.  The bag’s handles, which I used a decent amount of the time, are easy to grip yet don’t feel too flimsy; the leather is soft and should wear in nicely over time.

The bag comes with a lifetime warranty, and could easily last that long.

The bag comes with a lifetime warranty, and could easily last that long.

The bag features a number of handy extras, too. For starters, it has an exterior zipper pocket running the length of the back of the bag, useful for storing things like phone chargers or other odds and ends. Two exterior pockets on the opposite side combine thick brass and leather fastenings for yet more outer storage space, and an interior zipper also provides more room. An open pocket on the inside of the bag (as seen above) further adds to the utility of the piece without taking too much space away from the main compartment.

A closer look at the durable fastenings on the bag's exterior pockets.

A closer look at the durable fastenings on the bag’s exterior pockets.

Notably, this bag seems like it can take even more than what I threw at it. The washed canvas exterior is malleable without being too soft, and the bag itself held enough clothes for four days on the road with room for just a bit more — exactly enough space for the stylish traveler. On top of its tremendous function, the bag is a pretty handsome-looking piece. The rich brown color, combined with the deeper brown leather finishings, stands out in all the right ways compared to a normal gym bag or even a black duffel bag. Also available in a lighter ‘natural’ color as well as charcoal grey, the brown shade (or ‘carafe’) finds the right balance between being weekend-appropriate and polished. It manages to look rugged yet refined, the absolute best way to look when traveling across the country or just up the road.

Any experience with this particular piece? Any favorite luggage pieces when traveling? Leave it all below.