Style / June 2016

Urban Spirit: Montblanc

Gone are the days of compromising style for performance, with Montblanc’s Urban Spirit collection excelling in versatility and functionality.

Over the last couple of years menswear has undertaken a cataclysmic shift. Men are no longer prepared to suffer to look good and gone are the days when style would take precedence above all else. Today, the 21st century gentleman demands comfortable, versatile and above all else functional clothing that can take him from boardroom to bar with ease. But of course he must look good. Function must be married with style, because otherwise we’d all be wearing Berghaus rucksacks and baggy combat trousers. It is now possible to buy what was typically seen as a ‘performance’ garment that is updated with luxe materials and a flattering cut, i.e. a suede field jacket, that is business appropriate but can complement a louche weekend ensemble too. And now the same concept has been applied to luxury leather goods thanks to Montblanc.

The German maison’s new 22-piece Urban Spirit collection combines the classic style and expert craftsmanship the brand are known for with unbeatable functionality, making it ideal for the man constantly on the move. Each piece is designed for ease of use, with multi-storage solutions coming in the form of zipped interior pockets and practical magnetised exterior compartments. There’s also a unique lining that protects the information stored on credit cards and passports. Says Zaim Kamal, creative director of Montblanc, “We looked at how the contemporary man moves and what requirements he has. We wanted to bring together pieces that have a certain tactility as when you travel you might take the tube, walk for a bit or take a Boris bike in a single journey so we wanted to build a certain trans-versatility into it, but on the other hand we wanted give it internal organisation so that you as a carrier can decide where you put what. On top of this we came up with a new ID protection so we have a special film in there in the lining. It’s in the zipped pockets of the large leather goods as well as the wallets so it saves people scanning the information of your card. So the collection is all about security, functionality, easy access, being able to convert very easily. All the while retaining elegance and the craftsmanship side of it”.

"The collection is all about security, functionality, easy access, being able to convert very easily. All the while retaining elegance and the craftsmanship side of it.”

The most impressive aspect of the collection is in its adaptability, however. Many of the pieces are transformable, meaning they can adjust with the wearer as he transitions from locale to locale. The Slim Document Case is an elegant briefcase in one guise, but slide down the handles and it acts as a streamlined portfolio. Says Jerome Lambert, CEO of Montblanc, “I find it from a pure style perspective, a portfolio that my grandfather in the ‘50s could have been using in terms of its pure shape, yet it integrates elements of modernity that make it completely relevant for today”. The Tote Bag is more impressive still, being that the very shape of the bag can transform due to its cufflink closure on the sides. This means that come the weekend the user can forget the tote’s business connotations and use it as a small duffle bag. Montblanc has also reimagined the most important bag style in contemporary men’s leatherwear; the backpack. Featuring a side compartment for a laptop, a secret phone pocket and a perforated headphone pocket, it’s ideal for the travelling businessman who requires a smart leather bag that allows him to move unrestricted and with ease. It can be attached to one’s suitcase effortlessly too and allows the straps to be concealed turning it into a large document case.

The entire Urban Spirit collection is crafted from a beautiful waxy black leather. Says Lambert, “the first thing we always start with at Montblanc is the material. So when we thought ‘mobility’, ‘towns’ and ‘cities’ we knew then it would be black because we wanted to express robustness. We know that in a city not every place you put your bag will be clean and if you want to still have the quality of experience and not spend half your weekend cleaning your white bag then it needs to be dark, and for the same reason we say it needs to be matte”. This level of detail and dedication to quality is something one has come to expect of Montblanc. But the ingenuity in terms of design and the impressive levels of forward thinking creativity is something difficult to achieve in the world of leather-making. How many new ways can you design a bag after all? The modern man demands more however. Mr Kamal says it perfectly, “In the past you would have your weekend bag and your work bag, but now it’s just one bag for everything, so functionality is essential. I think this is the way it’s going. The faster the pace gets, the more interactive we become with our environments and our cities. The idea is also that you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, so the leather fuses itself with the environment of the city. It’s very clean in its look so that’s what gives it the style as well”. Bravo, Montblanc.

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Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a former staffer at The Rake.