A friend of mine has a special vacation strategy. Since he is a freelancer he works wherever he is and whenever he is engaged. Hence he has no lengthy holidays for escape. Instead, although a man of modest means, he travels to the best hotel he can find in any place he wants or has to travel. Not too recently but still memorable was a return to Macau, the ancient administrative hub of Portugal’s once widespread empire. This Chinese territory, sovereignty to which was restored in 1999, retains the pace of a Portuguese city, despite its dense population. At the conclusion of the conference he was attended he took the ferry to the fantastically hectic former British crown colony of Hong Kong. The destination was the famous Peninsula Hotel. Opened in 1928, this hotel is possibly the finest in the world. 

    While we were talking about his trip, I was surprised to hear that he only spent one night there. He explained, “It was only one night, but two days. I did not even consider leaving the place except to take a sentimental Star Ferry trip from Kowloon to the island. You see,” he added, “I was last there the year before it was returned to China. I wanted to repeat some of the views I had in 1997”. I had heard of the hotel, also from my days in the hospitality industry, but I had never actually been there. Why only one night, I asked? “Well, let me put it this way,” he replied, “You know I can drink champagne all night. But caviar is another matter. The taste is so intense and the feeling so immense, that a small dose lasts a very long time. I wanted the sensation not satiation of its renowned elegance.” He then went on to explain the feeling of never needing anything for two days. Those were two days in which there he only had to imagine something and without a word someone appeared, as if by magic, ready to satisfy an as yet unuttered request. It was hospitality not as a duty or a job but as a high art form.

    Days after that conversation, wondering about the requirements of the past, I woke from my nostalgia and decided to consider a modern way to travel. After all the point of those big trunks was that the traveller wanted to feel as comfortable as at home. It was impossible to just run to some standard store stocked with all the international brands. (Never mind for a moment that “ready to wear” was uncommon in the pre-War era.) Can one pack everything in a rucksack or one of those ubiquitous wheeled plastic boxes found at every airport?

    Waking in the morning, I obviously need the basic toiletries. Then the most sensitive items are underwear, cotton is simply the easiest to wash anywhere. So I have at least three sets, including handkerchiefs and pairs of socks, to allow changes and the time to wash and dry. Flexibility dictates that footwear should include two pair of shoes and a pair of sandals. If I plan to walk a lot, then a third pair of shoes allows me to give each pair a day’s rest in the course of a week. Now that is the foundation. As much as I hate packing, this minimum already gives me a bit of a headache. Since the disappearance of trolleys, along with porters, at most ground transportation centres—except in the poor countries—I always have to recall that I must carry this.

    Here is where I differ from the seemingly universal rule that jeans and a tee shirt suffice for any journey. You won’t even find me dressed like that at home—and hence certainly not in the street. So I prefer light woollen trousers for cooler conditions or formal occasions and cotton trousers for day and casual wear. In Southern and Eastern Asia, a waistcoat will usually due nicely. Another friend of mine has one made like a sleeveless “Nehru” jacket. Silk combines delicacy with flexibility, not just for neckties. It is a fabric that insulates wonderfully. Although associated with its origins in Eastern Asia, Italy is the historical centre of European silk production. Unless I am travelling in deep winter or the Himalayas, a wind and waterproof overcoat should suffice. The point of outer garments is not to exclude the cold but to preserve the body’s own internal heat. So good shoes, gloves and a proper hat actually keep one warmer or cooler than the heaviest parka or greatcoat alone.

    With all this consideration given to personal comfort and protection, one might ask what is the difference from the hiking kit seen everywhere. Perhaps one should see dressing not as a duty but also as an art, but a very practical one. Rather it is an expression of character combining the intelligence of well-chosen attire with the expression of one’s personal joy and enthusiasm. Comfortable, formal shirts, in a variety of colours and patterns that fit the taste of the wearer—personally I prefer discrete stripes with vibrant colours—are essential. That stylistic moment, like my friend’s one-day vacations, acquires its longevity not in the amount of real time the shirt is worn, but in the inspiration it gives to daily life.


    Ignatious Joseph established his shirt company more than two decades ago. After many years in the international hospitality business, Mr Joseph decided to pursue his passion for elegant menswear. Mr Joseph deliberately chose to have his shirts made by people who have the tradition and skills needed to make luxury clothing, the Italians.

    Shunning the “hyped brand/cheap production” strategy of many high-end manufacturers, he has built up his brand, going door to door, like some of the most eminent Italian producers did when they first entered the international market. Ign. Joseph menswear is made in Europe because that still where gentlemen from Shanghai to St. Petersberg to São Paulo look for the finest quality and distinctive style. It is the personal touch–and a bit of flamboyance–which has done as much to stimulate interest in Italian menswear around the world. 

    Ign.Joseph shirts are still hand made by Italian artisan shirtmakers. It is their skills passed down through generations that are needed to produce such distinctive features as sewn collars–instead of the fused collars prevalent even in most up-market shirts.

    The accumulated experience gained from the hotel and hospitality industry has inspired clothing and accessories that serve the gentleman under way. Comfort and convenience need not contradict elegance. The selection of artisanal products, whether kit bags or cashmere scarves aims to charm with delicacy and durability. 

    This “overstated discretion” is crafted in Italy, sewn and not pasted and extends the feeling of Ign.Joseph shirt to the rest of the gentleman’s wardrobe. Like other carefully selected accents, everything endowed with the Ign.Joseph Spirit, is purchased by men put passion before price.

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