Discover The Futurist Monk’s Clothes
The science-fiction tales of old were obsessed with going to space. In the 1950s, sci-fi writers imagined those of our times living in spacecrafts, bent on conquering the Milky Way. Men and women of the 2000s were supposed to stroll in shiny synthetic space suits. However, as enthralling as it was, the space program was more fragile than sci-fi writers thought, and the same was true for clothes.
Clothing changes according to tastes, to fashions, to unforeseen—and perhaps unforeseeable—needs. In this respect, the same futurology which made accurate predictions on highly technical fields has also failed to predict which clothes people would use: nineteenth century depictions of the 2000s show people roaming the skies and diving with tanks, which is accurate, yet their clothes and aesthetics show a quaint charm no futurologist would consider seriously.
Thus, if this seems hard to “live in the future” when it comes to clothing, it is at least possible to live well in the present. Such is my topic today. I can’t predict which new clothes, or clothing styles, or clothing fabrics will become trendy in the course of the ten next years, but I strive to be as futuristic as possible while choosing my clothes here and now.
When I asked people who look at my work what topic they would like to see me tackle, many answered they wanted my opinion on clothes. This is now done—and I received the help of an expert: Benoît Wojtenka, creator of Bonne Gueule, one of the only French sites (and by far the most successful) advising men on how to be elegant.
A qualified interlocutor on sartorial matters, Benoît is also a young entrepreneur I was pleased to help during his first years of activity. On this video, we are reviewing my clothes: urban techwear and black garments.
All links to the different websites at the end of this article 🙂
Watch the Interview
Socks are an often neglected matter. On the basis that others barely see the socks one uses, many men tend to use old, worn-out socks. Cheap, even holed black socks worn with Weston shoes and Armani suits may be more common than we think.
As for most days, I am wearing Outlier Merinos will socks. I will come back later on Outlier, one of my favorite Urban Techwear brand. They are super confortable, odorless, and dry super fast. Their fiber is a mix of merino wool and lycra/spandex. When I am wearing shorts, I enjoy wearing what professionals call no show socks. it looks like I wear no socks, yet I do. Those in the video come from one of my favorite brand, a Boston-based company called Ministry of Supply—that you will see again when it comes to my other clothes! They are comfortable, also easy to dry after washing and to take care of. These also come with odor control. “I like them too”, Benoît adds, “they are one of my most comfortable underwears.”
Two types of underpants fill up my drawer. The first type is called Ibex: it is made of merino wool and lycra. Incidentally, I have tested a hundred per cent merino underpants and, as comfortable as they are, they tend to not last very long… As Benoît confirms, “adding lycra does not take away from merino”, it only makes the whole piece easier to take care of. Plus, as merino is both warm and moisture-wicking, it is one of the best fabrics for travelling.
The other type of underpants I wear is mostly indicated for summer. The one seen on video is an Ex Officio piece. Almost completely made of nylon, it dries very easily and does not need to be ironed to keep its shape.
Most, if not all my pants, are of the same brand: Outlier. This is my favorite brand for pants, and this does not stem only from my meetings with Abe Burmeister, one of the company creators. “They got famous from their pants anyway”, Benoît remembers.
“As the story goes, both company creators were living in New York City and used bicycles. They had to sweat while climbing Brooklyn Bridge and wanted to remain comfortable while cycling downtown. They wanted clothes that were OK in social context as well as on cycle. Their first piece that sold well was an urban pair of pants that wicked transpiration away, resisted saddle friction, and didn’t make you look like a hitchhiker.”
I have been wearing the same Outlier pants for years and am still wearing these constantly. They are comfortable, of course, and after years of use they still look like they are knew. Made of mixed fabric, they look like cotton products and feel like one’s wearing a pyjama. To top it, they cost around 100 euros each (200 for the most expensive ones), which gives them a very good quality-price ratio. They range from mildly to very stretchy.
As a side note: as a sartorial adviser, Benoît is not a big fan of the black color, but I am. Black clothes suit me both on stage and in the course of my daily life. They suit at home and on the road. The only problem I could have with these lies in the fact that stained black looks very much worn-out, but once you get quality clothes, the color remains even after years of use. It’s particularly true with most Urban Techwear clothes which stays very black over time.
The second Outlier pant showed on video is more grey than black. It has an important particularity: the brand sends it to you with a removable extra merino wool layer. This M-back pant comes with a warm, 100% merino layer inside. So comfortable when it’s cold outside!
Polo and Dressed Tops
As for the tops, I have many Outlier pieces but for now Ministry of Supply remains my favorite. The black polo shirt in the video is a typical piece of “urban techwear.” As Benoît says, it uses the most up-to-date technology for an optimal result. Hidden pockets. Various types of zippers or adjusters. Near-perfect moisture management and stretch.
From my point of view, the most important quality a piece of clothing must have is its ability to keep its shape and color without having to be ironed. I have already washed my techwear tops in hotel sinks, hung them in the bathroom, and the next morning, they were perfectly dry and ready to use as if ironed. (Except they had not been ironed, and have never been in years. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t, because ironing these burns the fabric!)
“Ministry of Supply bettered their shirts in the course of last years, too,” Benoît adds. “Their first polo shorts were loose. Now, they put real collar shirts on their polo shirts, which keeps them tight—and this is still something American brands scarcely do. Look at your polo shirt (the one on the video:) in the first version the collar did not hold very well, now they added a discrete but well-adjusted stretcher inside and it holds good.”
The long-sleeved dress shirt that comes next is also a Ministry of Supply piece. It is said to be nineteenth times (!) more breathable than cotton. Again, it does not require ironing. If I remember well, it cost me $120.
The other long-sleeved dress shirt, which comes third in the video, is an Acronym piece. “On of my favorite brands”, Benoît says. “The design of their shirts is very much differentiated, very futuristic. They just have two issues: all their clothes come in very limited quantity, and their price goes through the celling.” Indeed, I think I purchased this shirt for more than $500. The price-quality ratio isn’t very good, unless you consider that the price itself creates value. Stretchy, almost impossible to tear, endowed with incredible moisture management properties, this Acronym shirt may be one of the best pieces of clothing I own.
As Benoît mentions, this Acronym shirt is made by Schoeller, a Swiss company of high-tech garment maker which became virtually synonymous with high quality and trustworthiness. This Acronym shirt is made of Dryskin Schoeller fabric—“they have improved it again recently,” Benoît adds. “This fabric was created for horse-riding. It is very stretchy and sweat-evacuating while still habillé.” Doubtlessly, one of my favorites, especially on stage: its high elegance and comfort or practicality, as well as its underlying spirit, fit well with who I am.
But, you may say, how about the colder times of the year? Well, I have some sweaters. The first introduced in video is a Mission Workshop black hoodie. This San Francisco-based brand comes from the bicycle culture and, not unlike Outlier, strived to create vanguard-like garment. (The key difference is, whereas Outlier has turned its tops and sweaters into curious experiments, Mission Workshop remains mostly devoted to bicycle users.)
The aforementioned hoodie is a merino and lycra mix. Highly moisture-controlling, it is versatile and keeps you warm when the weather’s cold, refreshed when it is hot.
I have another Mission Workshop Sweater in Polartec Pro Stretch; It is very comfortable and super warm for travelling in winter. One inconvenient, though: it does not look voluminous but it is. You notice it by the first time you want to pack it inside your luggage. Better to travel while wearing it—especially by plane, where air conditioning is often overused.
“I have worn a sweater of the exact same fabric in Mongolia, at a time where it was cold and windy, and it was warming and comfortable, so I can confirm it is very well-made”, Benoît says.
Second sweater on video: an Outlier piece. This one comes with three layers: 100% merino inside, Schoeller stretch/mixed fabric outside, and a “Polartech alpha” fabric in-between. What does this mean?
“The Polartech tech alpha technology”, Benoît remembers, “was designed for American special forces. Soldiers have to remain discreet and immobile, sometimes for hours, sometimes at a cold time and place. And then they have to move and rush. Because of this, they would often put, then take off, then put their clothes. The Polartech alpha is versatile: it keeps you warm when you remain unmoving, then evacuates any sweat you produce once you start moving. It is light-weighted, dries well, and the garment compresses well.” This second piece is just perfect for travelling, with near-perfection coming for a price: almost 500 euros.
As we say in France, you do not impose a change to a team that wins. My first jacket is a black piece of Ministry of Supply attire. It comes in technical fabric, “something waterproof, breathing, and which does not even let you see the sewings,” Benoît mentions. It is windbreaking, protects you from bad weather, and is elegant enough to be put on a suit.
My second jacket is almost the same thing than the first, except that it comes from Mission Workshop. It contains something called NeoShell, which is close from the famous Gore-Tex fabric. This model also lets you remove the hood if you are so inclined.
Last but not least: a very warm Gore-Tex jacket. This one comes from Scandinavia, more precisely, from a Norwegian brand named Norrøna. From experience, I can tell that it is absolutely good if you travel in a cold country during the heart of the winter. Even by a solid -10º, I once felt like I was in a sleeping bag! The only thing I would object is that they should not put their brand tag on such a display. It’s just against the basic Urban Techwear “rules”…
And here comes the most demanding part. Namely, the suits. There are many elegant ones, but most are unpractical. They make you tight, limit your ability to move, and when you travel a lot, you find yourself paying again and again to have them ironed before the next day meeting. On the other hand, urban techwear suits that are undoubtedly more practical all too often look like they’re made of plastic, or like they’re cheap, even when they are not.
I spent years looking for better suits. For blazers, especially, which I could wash and hang in a hotel bathroom then use with minimal or even no care. Guess what! I found such suits. They come from Ministry of Supply. (And no, MoS or any other brand by the way, does not sponsor me to mention their stuff…)
The first suit introduced in video looks like a normal cotton-made suit. Actually, it is made out of technical fabric. It does not have to be ironed, dries easily, makes me comfortable inside, and it does not look shiny or covered with plastic. To be honest, it is the newest piece of attire I own with only 3 or 4 months of age. Regardless, it suits me well, and as Benoît mention, it comes with a unique, slightly slim shape on its back.
As for the other suit, it comes from a Taiwanese brand named Outerboro. It is comfortable, too, but a bit too plastic-looking to my taste. Once again, the MoS suit is the best: it looks like a regular quality suit does while also washing and drying easy enough to travel with.
Tell Me What You Wear, I May Tell You Who You Are
Some consider fashion as an external diktat and find solace in not giving attention to it. You may think of the topic as superficial, and of this blog post as a bit complacent. Others, indeed, tend to buy automatically into the latest craze. However, the world does not boil down to these extremes, and when you look around, there are an indefinite number of clothing options available. Even if you do not have that much money—and, to be honest, if I had that much, I would likely wear more Acronym apparel—the options are there. More than ever, the outwards tells about the inward.
There may be something fractal in here. I applied my usual curiosity to the field of clothes because I wanted to wear things adapted to my lifestyle and personality, rather than the other way around. Black clothes suit my “wandering lecturer” life, and not only is urban techwear practical, it also suits my desire for moving forward.
You spend your day at work. Then, you exit your office to reach a yoga class or run. Or you decide to set up an afterwork with friends. All while using the same clothes. Options, and no need to carry tons of different clothes or pay the equivalent of the garment itself to have the hotel wash and iron it.
I am still not sure of what the future of clothing will be, but if we remain focused on the present, this is (already) pretty good.
To know more about Benoît Wojtenka and his sartorial advice, check his website: Bonne Gueule (in French)
Give your comments and personal advice in the comments:)