Jonathan Evans has seen a lot of quality bags in his lifetime. As an associate editor at GiltMAN, he writes posts related to wardrobe and quality beers, as well as copy for the site's flash sales—in other words, he has spent enough time with the variety of product the e-commerce giant features to be able to spot truly well-made and reliable goods.
"I can see when a bag is about to fall apart after a couple of uses, or a shirt is about to pop a seam," says Evans. "Just the fact that now I've got my hands on so much nice stuff, it's kind of second nature to be able to tell what's well-made and what's not well-made."
Though Evans prefers bags made from canvas or waxed canvas, he notes that sturdy stitching and tough material are two important factors possessed by any great bag. Light and resilient tech materials like ballistic nylon also signify durability. "I'm looking for something that's heavyweight enough for me to know things won't tear through, and constructed sturdily enough for me to know that if the material's not gonna give, the seams won't either," he explains.
Hardly ever spotted without a piece of handsome luggage in tow, Evans carries a good part of his life around with him. He's never without a scarf, headphones or pens and paper, which he prefers over tablets and notepad apps. "I like that it's really immediately physical, I don't have to unlock anything or type anything up. I also like that I can tear it up and manipulate it."
Writing things down also helps him to remember to do specific errands. Usually he'll jot it down in his notebook, tear out the page, and stick it in his shirt pocket as a physical reminder. He also carries around an array of sartorial accessories for work purposes. "Any given day, I've got probably a stash of items I've been writing about, says Evans, reaching into his bag. "For instance I've been carrying three or four pocket squares with me for the last two or three weeks, because I'm working on a series about how to fold one."
Next month, Evans will be traveling back down to his hometown in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, and he already knows what he'll pack in his Coach Crosby Leather Duffel Bag: "A couple of unstructured blazers, a couple of trousers, a pair of jeans, a pair of chinos so I can mix and match, a couple of button-down shirts, a T-shirt and a pair of shorts in case I want to work out; A pair of sneakers, a pair of proper dress shoes, and toiletries."
Not only do the unstructured blazers travel well, but Evans thinks they're a step up from a cardigan and just as versatile. "I was sitting at the kids' table for way too long, and finally made the jump to the adults' table— I gotta bring it at least a little bit," he jokes. Dress shoes are also something he feels he needs to bring with him, and Evans divulges the details on the best pair to bring: "Brogues are never too fussy," he says. "I pack socks and underwear inside them, and I put them inside shoe bags so they don't get scratched or crushed, and pack them at the bottom of the bag."
Another gentleman's staple is a woven shirt that travels. "Oxford cloth button-downs are the standard," proclaims Evans. "You can toss a blazer on over it, the collar stands, and it doesn't do that weird 'Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven' thing." He's a staunch believer in the versatility of the solid oxford shirt: "They can be worn casually too. It's pretty much a go-anywhere shirt, and solids are easier on a trip, because you don't have to worry about clashing."
Evans often worries about packing a little too much on a trip, and offers this advice for soon-to-be travelers: "I try to tell everyone to pack a little less than they think they need. Realistically, that extra pair of pants you think you might wear that one day, you're probably not gonna wear." He also advises people to check the weather frequently prior to a trip, in order to ensure that the right kind of gear gets packed. "I usually start checking a week before the trip and then two days before. I recommend people also check the morning before leaving."
Images by Graham Hiemstra