Better summer: The Tote Bag

Tote bag

The summer season is upon us, and if you did manage to catch your flight to that idyllic summer getaway house right off the beach in Palma or taking a 2 day stop-off in Santa Margeritha Ligure en route to Tuscany, you’re most likely to travel with this seasons most essential accessory – The Tote Bag.

As we see it, there are a number of items that every proper Tote bag should hold. Starting off with the bag itself, in the ideal world it will be from Tomorrowlands collection of stylish bags. The content of it could hold a couple of incredibly soft and comfortable Aspesi bermudas, a handmade notebook from Misuzudo, some Sisely Sunscream (because of its lovely fragrance) and of course you’ll be enjoying the shade through your handmade Barbisio sun hat.

That’s some essentials that a cool and modern tote bag could and should include. The question is now, what’s in your tote bag?

The Art of the Interview

Bathroom mirror narcissicism, revisited

Although countless books have been written about it, the key to the perfect interview is simply choosing the right subject.

Better societies: A Uniqlo owned Gap


A couple of weeks ago exciting rumours started to appear in the wonderful world of retail. That Japanese casual clothing chain, and long time favorites, Uniqlo was preparing a bid on the mismanaged US clothing company Gap.

Already in Issue 22, Tadashi Yanai founder of Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, hinted that they would enter the US market through a large acquisition.

…the US is so big that there is no use in putting one store here and another there. So it comes back to the M&A story again. We want to purchase a company about the same size as us and use it as a platform to bring Uniqlo to all parts of the US.

The most obvious winners of this deal would be the American public. A society without neon colored polo shirts with popped collars is a society that can develop, that can move forward. Maybe even Monocle will recognize the benefits of this change, and we might see a US city on next year’s Most livable Cities list (alright we know Honolulu was on this year’s list, but really? Honolulu? Let’s call that a sponsorship…) . The best description of what Uniqlo would do for Gap is provided by The Cut

Because unlike Gap, Uniqlo is impossible to avoid. Need jeans in a pinch? Uniqlo. Have no plans to purchase anything but just feel like walking into a store with pretty colors? Walk into Uniqlo, walk out with an interesting, stylish $19 T-shirt dress. Can’t stand American Apparel but need basics? We could go on. It’s what Gap should be — though with Hamptons flavor and a slightly more subdued color palette.

Private jet – the new ambulance

Private Jet XA-ABA in Koh Samui

Our fellow highflyer Kristin, points out a very interesting blog post in the FT regarding Steve Jobs and his recent liver transplant. We quote:

“If you had access to a jet and had six hours to get anywhere in the country, you’d have a wide choice of programs,” said Dr. Michael Porayko, the medical director of liver transplants at Vanderbilt University, one of the Tennessee centers that has said it did not treat Mr. Jobs.

Could it be any clearer? We suggest mandatory private jets for anyone who wants to stay healthy. The reasons to buy a HondaJet HA-420 or a Pilatus PC-12 are literally stacking up.

Brûlé Airways: The Crew

Malay air flight attendants

Just as we were speculating about Brûlé Airways, the man himself writes a full column on what it would be like. Finding himself desperately needing “trans-Med connectivity” he lays out – eloquent as always – what the crew on this fictional airline would be serving and wearing:

On the crew front, my jury’s out on who I’d have in the cockpit but I’d definitely have Italians to man the on-board espresso machines and I’d hire my friend Kamal Mouzawak to be my chief catering officer and have him demonstrate why Lebanon’s mezze culture was made for in-flight meal service. Along with produce sourced in the Bekaa Valley and the Chouf Mountains, he’d also select the best reds from Spain, rosés from Provence, whites from Italy and beer from Turkey.

After food, uniforms would be the second most exciting element and I’d leave the sourcing to my Galician friend Sagra who’d have a sleepy little espadrille firm do a smart shoe for both men and women, find an emerging French designer to produce dresses and knitwear ensembles for the girls and a solid tailor from Genoa to do the designs and manufacturing for the stewards’ and pilots’ uniforms.

He does however leave us with one mystery:

Would it make more sense to crew the airline from the lower-wage Maghreb countries or leave it to the Spanish or the Lebanese to run?

Those Maghreb countries have that ever-charming sub-Med disposition, so our money is definitely on them.

Quote from the weekly

Seat Leon FR1

From the 25th edition of the Monocle Weekly:

That was the Mexican Institute of Sound. Rob, if that does not get picked up by someone like Seat to market some sexy little convertible, for hairdressers, I shouldn’t be in media probably.

A decent week for Zürich


A couple of weeks ago Zürich was just another of many trending hubs in Europe, perfect for dashing in and out over a weekend to do some local shopping in the city’s Vice district. This part of Zürich that, instead of being constructed as your local Swiss bank vault, actually looks like it’s painted with colours from the vibrant streets of Berlin-Mitte.

Last week the spotlight certainly turned to Zürich. It started when they snatched the award for Best European Airport right in front of the always confident Münich airport. Which was, I think we all feel, quite an upset, especially since Lufthansas work pods ranked as Most productive place in Monocle’s Travel Top 50.

Later last week Monocle released one of the absolute highnotes of the year – The Most liveable cities list of 2009. What affected the list this year were the new metrics. First, The Zara/Starbucks index, i.e. the independence of a city’s retail. Secondly, how easy it is to set up a new small business shop. And last, planned improvements in infrastructure. This change of metrics of course meant that all previous bets were off. Frankly we had our money riding on Münich for a long time, but after this radical change of the lists fundamentals we would have put our money on Copenhagen.

But Zürich proved unbeatable this week, snobbing Münich not once but twice in seven days. We’re guessing the equally elegant as arrogant people of Zürich have been celebrating on Bahnhofstraße all week long, probably drinking large quantities of Fledschloesschen while filling up with some delightful hot chestnuts at some of the best street corners in Europe. We tip our hat for Zürich and plan on taking a closer look at the city later this year.

Brûlé Airways – The fleet

ec-ivg airbus a320 spanair

As mentioned, Mr Brûlé has expressed interest in his own airline. And after going through what the terminal would be like, our next stop is of course the aircraft fleet.

Aviation purchases are always troublesome, as you are well aware of. A long line of factors need to be taken into account – range, fuel efficiency, seating arrangements and so forth. In cases like this we tend to always to lean towards people rather than specs. And who would you rather lean on than the “best thinker in the sky” – Robert Lafontan. As Airbus’s senior chief engineer he is the master mind behind the A380 (that we sincerely hope never will be produced in it’s 853 people economy class only configuration).

For Brûlé Airways however, we are opting for his next project in line – the A350 XWB. So we’ll go for a few of those for long haul while settling for the more lean A320 for short and medium haul trips. That should cover the basic LHR-NRT, CPH-ZRH and ARN-PMI routes.

But, as our efficient German friends Lufthansa have shown us, no airline is complete without a private jet section. So to finish off, we’ll pop in a Cessna Citation XLS+ for good measure. A pure bespoke offering for those customers that prefer a smoother debarkation.

Better people: John Morford

Park Hyatt Tokyo, Library

Recently ranked in the Monocle Travel Top Fifty as the top “man who knows his way around a room”, John Morford is definitely a better person.

The man responsible for the designing the Park Hyatt Tokyo is nothing less than an demi-god of interior design. Just look at their library shown above. As a matter of fact, the only downfall we can find about the hotel is that their club sandwich doesn’t hold as high class as their Milan sibling. But Mr Morford can hardly be blamed for this. However another Morford-designed hotel – the Masuichi Kyakuden in Obuse – serves the best hotel breakfast, full stop. It’s a slight culinary mystery.

He has a special approach to public spaces that “makes the guest feel they´re the star, not the interior”. As it should be. And this skill alone makes us title Mr Morford as a better person.

Quote from the Weekly

Two huge cappuccinos

From the excellent 23rd edition of the Monocle Weekly:

You might have caught the headlines earlier in the week that had McDonalds announcing their plans of thumping Starbucks in the coffee retail wars in Europe by bringing its cookie cutter concept and two huge cappuccinos to high streets from Manchester to Munich. Indeed if ever it was a moment of a bit of culture and trade protectionism it’s now, or is it? Earlier this week another upstart arrived on European shores in the forms of South African born Vida e caffè. Originally launched in Cape Town Vida e caffè plays up a bit of a portuguese story and does so with a sunny southern hemisphere disposition. With…reasonably big ambitions for Europe is the concept just another Starbucks in giraffes clothing?.