Two things are revolutionizing what clothes travelers pack. One is that technical fabrics have entered the mainstream. They are lightweight, creating extra space in your carry-on. They are moisture-wicking, keeping you cool and saving you from time-consuming laundry. And, their UV protection is helpful if you’re walking around in the hot sun.
The second thing is the demise of fast fashion. Many new brands are steering away from cheap clothing and instead, designing long-lasting, versatile pieces that can be worn in different settings: think, a dress that can be worn at work and in the evening, or shorts that can be worn to work out in and then to lunch.
The days of frumpy ‘travel clothing’ are gone, and instead, there are plenty of comfortable, functional and stylish pieces to choose from. Here are some of our favourites.
Iconic clothing brand and environmental campaigner Patagonia started out making gear for climbers. This tank-top is made from organic cotton and Tencel, a fabric made from wood pulp cellulose. Tencel absorbs moisture inside the fabric, rather than on the surface, making it odor resistant, which means less washing. With less moisture on the surface, you’ll feel cool and dry in a hot climate. The pretty print and strappy design make it versatile enough to wear in the evening as well as on a hiking trip.
Buy it: Alpine Valley Tank Top $45
When the founders of Seagale considered the design of their swimming shorts, they thought they could do better, so they created their own company, making clothes from technical fabrics like Supplex and Tencel that you can wear every day. Their performance sweatshirt is made from merino wool. Breathable and antimicrobial, it needs less washing and is light, giving you more space in your suitcase or carry-on. The fabric regulates body temperature so you can wear it in warm or cool weather.
Buy it: Merino Performance Sweatshirt €110
Raj and Akhil Shah of Seattle-based Ably wanted to find a way to enhance natural fabrics, so they pioneered Filium technology, an eco-friendly process which makes fabrics like cotton and linen repel liquid. Their Aloe shirt is water-repelling, stain-resistant and fast drying. Because the fabric repels water, sweat isn’t absorbed, so you’ll wash it less during a trip. Plus, it dries faster than an ordinary shirt – convenient if you do need to wash it. Bloggers and journalists are fans of the technology.
Buy it: Aloe Shirt $120
Anatomie has made a name for itself creating stylish, functional clothes that suit travelers. Their Skyler Travel Pants can be dressed up or down and worn on a hike, in the airport or in a bar. Slim, with a straight leg, they are made from lightweight, quick-drying and wrinkle-resistant material. These particular trousers are beloved of fashion and travel bloggers, and you can read one of the many glowing reviews here.
Buy it: Skyler Travel Pant $225
A popular British brand from Penzance in Cornwall, Seasalt started out making hard-wearing outerwear for farmers, sailors and fishermen. Today it produces stylish, practical clothes that function well in unpredictable weather. Their Sail Maker Jacket is made from their own lightweight fabric Tincloth, inspired by the original ‘tin cloth’ oilskin. It is light enough to be worn on a dry sunny day but will protect you from the rain in an unplanned-for downpour.
Buy it: Sail Maker Jacket £39.95
Named after a volcano in Ecuador, US company Cotopaxi creates bright backpacks and apparel. With its distinctive design the Allpa backpack will stand out on a hike but equally won’t look out of place while exploring a new city. The 28L version is small enough to take in the cabin, and has mesh pockets for sunglasses and passports, a laptop compartment, and a rain cover, in case you get stuck in a downpour.
Buy it: Allpa backpack $170
San Francisco based Everlane is one of the most popular clothing brands around right now, and has been made even more popular by Meghan Markle. Their philosophy is to create clothing that lasts – perfect if you’re seeking a hard-wearing travel piece. Their Japanese Swing Skirt is made of triacetate, a natural fabric produced from cellulose. The fabric is easy to wash, quick drying and doesn’t wrinkle. Wear this skirt, and you’ll look polished even after the most cramped plane or train journey.
Buy it: Japanese Swing Skirt £69
Adored by fashionistas the world over, California based Taos creates stylish footwear that pays attention to comfort. Their Trulie sandals can be adjusted at several different points to give the best fit and the cork footbed is shock absorbing – ideal for exploring a city on foot. They weigh only 7 oz each, so you won’t even notice them in your suitcase. The popularity of this particular design prompted one fashion blogger to call them a ‘wonder sandal’ – read their review here.
Buy it: Trulie sandals $160
American brand Epoque Evolution is run by two friends who wanted clothes that would serve their active lifestyles. Their Non-Stop Tee Dress has a host of useful features for travelers; it is wrinkle-resistant, UV ray-blocking, and antimicrobial, so you can wear it multiple times. Made from merino wool, it will keep you warm or cool depending on the temperature. The style is versatile too and works with sneakers in the daytime and heels in the evening.
Buy it: Non-stop Tee Dress $178
New Zealand start-up Allbirds has received heaps of praise for its comfortable and sustainable shoes. Suitable for the beach and the city, their Tree Runners are made from Eucalyptus pulp – a breathable fabric that wicks away moisture, making them ideal for walking around in a hot and/or rainy climate. The company has received plenty of positive reviews in the media, including this glowing review from one Buzzfeed journalist.
Buy it: Tree Runners $160