Archive for May 2009


Dresscode during Nuclear week

Kim Jong ll in pantusuit

After a week that best could be describe as Nuclear week. When North Korea decided to test nuclear warheads worth more than their annual GDP. This hostile activity has also contributed to a number of posts in newspapers everywhere on the disturbed mind of Kim-Jong II.

Monocle, naturally, sensed what was coming. Hence they featured him in the Style leaders section in the June issue.

In a nation devoted to grandeur and spectacle, to parades of immaculate marching soldiers, and immense displays of synchronised gymnastic, Nort Korean Dictator, Kim Jong Il, is the worst-dressed man in the whole country. His generals sport smart olive uniforms with characteristically broad-topped caps. His civilian aides dress in elegantly old fashioned dark suits. But whatever the occasion – the launching of a long-range rocket, the inaguration of the Supreme People’s Assembly – the man they call the “Dear Leader” inists on wearing what can best be described as a Stalinist pantsuit

The Economist works in Economy?

Lufthansa Business Class

We just noticed the business travel blog Gulliver over at The Economist, as you know, is a magazine that best could be described as Monocle minus Wallpaper*. Still, it seems to be worth reading occasionally.

However, this article regarding whether or not one can should travel business class worries us slightly:

The simple answer is: sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. For daytime flights, either long- or short-haul, business-class travel is an unnecessary expense. We can all work in economy, if necessary, and even the weariest voyager should be able to regain their pep after a night’s sleep.

Working in economy class? That would be like shopping in Oxford Street. Out of the question and sincerely unlivable.

The washlet and man bags

Japanese bag

As Tyler digs into our favorite nation – Japan (if you didn’t know this your home work starts with buying issues 9 through 11 of you know what) – in this week’s Fast Lane column, he finds five great ways of bringing a bit more of Japan Inc. to the rest of the developing world, i.e. North America. The high notes for us this week was point three and five.

3. Clever collaborations
Japanese consumers love a clever tie-up between established brands and smart creative talent. Good examples are retailer Beams doing a customised Subaru in hot orange and chocolate brown, or bagmaker Porter doing a “man bag” exclusively for ANA.

5. Bathroom culture
The Washlet (the automated, all- spraying, all-blow-drying, all-sound cancelling, all-deodorising toilet) is finally making inroads into new markets, but the world needs to embrace this concept faster. If it’s standard practice to wash your hands after going to bathroom, shouldn’t it also be part of the routine to wash the parts of your body that performed the function? Japan’s become so addicted that they’ll even feature on the two national carriers’ 787s when they eventually take to the skies.

Introducing: The Tyler Brûlé Index

CeBIT 2008

As promised on our about page, we are set to develop a simple benchmarking system to ensure a high livability. And how better to do this than to set up a system based on the habits of TB? Enter: The Tyler Brûlé Index (TBI). After all, an index is the only fair way to measure things in life.

It’s a simple and developing system that will take into account the many brands, airlines and preferences of our fellow friend. As a reference point, we will use a business class flight with Lufthansa – this will be TBI 100. This is the standard, if you will.

Let’s take an example from the FT the other day – a clear TBI 40:

The door whooshed shut, and the crew passed around pre-take-off drinks and quarantine forms for the State of Hawaii. Our Boeing 757 then rumbled along the tarmac, and a few minutes later we were out over the Pacific.

I was utterly unprepared for what happened next. I guess that if I’d paid closer attention to the Hawaii-themed dinner menu, then it might have offered some type of warning. But I hadn’t, so I didn’t know whether to stare, laugh or despair when the cabin crew emerged from the galley accessorised in little floral sprigs and swatches of Hawaiiana.

Steward in silly, rather than skimpy, outfits. What else is to be expected from American Airlines, you may ask? A fair question considering this North American carrier is far from the likes of ANA, Cathay or Porter. The whole airline is a stretch to even make TBI 60 in total, but then I’m of course referring to seating in the front of the cabin. Otherwise it had been considerably less.

We’ll be referring to the TBI in the posts ahead. Anyone that has had a TBI 150 experience knows that it should be shared with others.

Priorities, please

My Gay Pimp

The other day, we wrote about the horrific symptom SAS (saggy ass syndrome). We suggested that the WHO put it on some sort of suitable list for immediate attention. In these days of pandemics, it seems the world as gotten the wrong focus yet again. Our friend Tyler Brûlé reminds us of yet another issue for this United Nations outlet:

If the World Health Organisation has taught us over the past two weeks that there are six stages to a pandemic, then the purple pandemic that is sweeping Britain has surely now reached stage seven. Purple, in all its hideous shades, is now so widespread as an accent, highlight and dominating colour that there is a very real danger that the next time you pick up this newspaper it will be sickly shade of violet. Can you imagine? Would you read a purple-paged newspaper? What would it say about you? What would it say about the newspaper?

WHO – get your priorities straight. How long must we endure the colour purple?

How to travel

Business class

  • “Never check your luggage; 99 per cent of the time I don’t check in bags regardless of how long I’m travelling for.”
  • “I sleep as much as possible when I travel.”
  • “If it’s a long-haul, 80 per cent of the time I go for a run or do something active once I land.”
  • “I try to eat in moderation when I fly.”
  • “I usually try for a window seat, as far forward on the plane as I can get. I think if you do it properly – i.e. first or business class – there’s nothing traumatic about flying 250 days of the year.”

Tyler Brûlé, Blue Wings, 2009

Brûlé Airways – The terminal

The terminal

To start off this installment it seemed fitting to follow the process that every traveller normally goes through, from departure to landing. Hence, starting off with an attack on the so often sub-par standards of terminals worldwide. We often shrugg when touching down in the spectacle that is Heathrow Airport in London or departing from the tragedy of De Gaulle in Paris.

For inspiration we turned to some of the best aviation hubs around the world. Terminals are potential time savers when done properly but to be honest often they are toxic time wasters. Since our passengers are en route to Hong-Kong, Milan or Frankfurt at any given day and like all Business travellers run on a tight schedule. The terminal therefore needs to address the issues of infrastructure and design, the two most important aspects for any likeminded business traveller.

Infrastructure wise the primary inspiration comes from Tokyo’s own Haneda airport:

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport wouldn’t win any architectural prizes but boy, does it work. It’s a shallow airport, so you can get to check-in fast. Many airports try to funnel their passengers through one security area, but Haneda has six or seven, which means you can get from kerbside and past security in 90 seconds. It’s the fourth-busiest airport in the world, but it’s primarily a domestic airport, and doesn’t have a massive duty-free area. Instead there’s an amazing grocery store. You can even pre-order your groceries and pick them up after you land.

If you combine that with the Scandinavian architectual high note that is Copenhagen Airport, described as:

It’s just so exquisite, so uniquely Nordic, there’s no mistaking you’re in Copenhagen. The floors are teak throughout, and the signage is excellent: dark navy background with yellow text. There are washrooms every 20 metres, so you never have to worry about schlepping down the hall to find the loo.

Brülé Airways is combining a well-designed infrasctructure with fantastic Scandinavian design details wrapping it all up in the service mindset and attention to details of Japanese retailers to create a unique terminal experience.

How we greet

Tyler Brule

Sweden: Hur är läget?
USA: How are you doing?
Monocle Weekly: – Where are you fresh from?

A bankable opportunity

I think it’s a wonderful time (to be more enterprising). Rents are cheap. If you’ve always wanted to run a bakery for dogs, people are still spending a lot of money on their pets. This is a great moment to go and do what you’ve always wanted to do.

Tyler Brûlé, The Australian, 2009

The Brands: Incotex


Over the last few weeks, we have been wading through the retail jungles of Hong Kong, Vancouver and Sydney to pick up a thing or two before the skiing season in St Moritz ends, and the swimming season in Stockholm begins. It’s the same dilemma each year.

At times like this it feels good to know that although a post-shopping glass of Krug in Paris´ 3rd arr is a decent way of spending a Tuesday afternoon, the shopping answer to your question is always in Como. A Gi Emme is the store that always comes up trumps. And more importantly – they stock the eminent brand Incotex, an off shoot from the Italian fashion group Slowear.

Their chinos are simply incomparable, and also relieves you of a commonly spread plague known as SAS (and we’re not referring to the non-business class MD-80s that operate between ARN and CPH).

Tyler himself describes it like this:

Every season I’m seduced into trying some other company’s attempt at making the perfect twill trouser and they’re never even close to Venice-based Incotex. They get the leg silhouette just right and also ensure that wearers never suffer from SAS – saggy ass syndrome.

This disease could well be one of the most unpleasant inconveniences to have to witness for the surroundings. So before the WHO get their act together and puts the diagnosis on one of those lists, make sure that you flat fronts are Incotex – or Italian at least. After all, we’re not savages.