The key to preserving the longevity of garments often comes from the smaller details. Be it combing your suit after a day's wear, airing it overnight, or using a hanger with suitable width and shape.
Today's focus is a natural extension of this subject matter, yet one that is also frequently overlooked in the discussion of garment care — garment bags.
To provide some context, there are two types of people in the world — those who would store their tailoring in the wardrobe without protection, and those who do. Normally, one could perhaps manage without a garment bag if his/ her wardrobe is dry, dimly lit, has great air circulation, and has zero issues with insect infestation.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely the case for many. Hence, the simplest method to protect one's garments — without necessarily hiring professional exterminators or perhaps even moving to a dry country — is to invest in high-quality garment bags. Only there is a problem, there are not that many options in the market.
This is where Arterton comes in.
Arterton is an up-and-coming London-based design firm which specializes in goods for the sartorial enthusiast community.
Like a number of us enthusiasts, William Wong, the founder of Arterton, too, founded his firm after having been unhappy with what was available on the market, particularly with respect to garment bags and umbrellas.
Curiously, the Signature Garment Bag is a registered design under the UK Intellectual Property Office. Personally, this is somewhat refreshing to see — as someone who has studied IP Law in relation to fashion — as registering designs is not necessarily a common practice within the menswear community.
Anyhow, without further ado, let's jump straight to reviewing the garment bag.
The first feature which immediately caught my eye is the choice of fabric.
Apart from polyester and nylon, the most common type of garment bags on the market (and the ones that are used by a range of low to mid-tier brands) are made out of plastic/ PEVA or non-woven materials. While this implies that such bags are lighter (and marginally more advantageous if you are traveling with an already overweight suitcase), they fall short in pretty much every other department.
First and foremost, not only does plastic lack breathability but it also seals in moisture, thus accumulating bacteria and causing the fabric to deteriorate over time. Additionally, plastic — especially those that are used for dry cleaning bags — can also cause yellowing on the garment, as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), a chemical antioxidant that is used in plastics as a preservative, turns yellow when exposed to impurities in the air. Last but not least, it can also potentially cause a series of health and safety issues related to micro-plastics, such as asphyxiation.
In contrast, the Arterton Signature Garment Bag is made out of a densely-woven 12oz cotton fabric which is then double-waxed with natural paraffin oil; a treatment which many Barbour jackets owners are familiar with. This allows the garment bag to be breathable while offering sufficient protection against water, dust, and moths for the content within.
From a stylistic perspective, the use of cotton also helps create imagery that is reminiscent of an old-school, 19th century traveling aesthetic. (Picture smaller travel bags laying on top of leather trunks in a train station.)
Speaking of protection, another key highlight of Arterton's champion product is its reinforced gussets.
Intended for carrying up to three hangers (every bag is finished with three sewn buttonholes at the top), the garment bag features two side panels that go around the piece and join in the middle. This is rather distinctive from the normal single suit carriers which only have the front and back panels.
Now, from a technical angle, it is dangerously easy for a garment bag with side panels to fall on its own weight, given that there is no internal structure for support. This is a common issue that can be spotted even in higher-quality muslin equivalents.
By affixing the side panels to both the front and back counterparts, this allows the garment bag to retain its three-dimensionality even when it is laid flat. This would also mitigate any crowding issues which typically arise when multiple pieces of clothing are stored within the same bag.
Elsewhere, what is intriguing about Arterton's Signature Garment Bag is its double-zip fastening mechanism.
On the front panel, you can find two solid-metal zips and sliders (one on the left and the other in the middle) that run through the entire length of the garment bag. They are connected with a leather pulley which allows the suit carrier to be opened and closed with a single movement.
This is a substantial improvement from the traditional center-zip system, considering the given ease for garment insertion and retrieval. Just imagine how effortless it would be for you to retrieve a pair of trousers that is stored at the back of the bag.
If I were to nitpick, my only concern would be the velcro panel which connects the front panel with the top end. Since the said panel is produced to be slightly overlapping with the zippers, I sometimes find it difficult to pull the leather handle all the way to the top, especially when the velcro is not aligned properly; this leaves very tiny gaps on both ends.
That being said, this is minuscule in comparison to the hole at the top where the hook goes through in a regular garment bag. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
There are two ways of carrying the Signature Garment Bag — one, by lifting the hook off the hangers directly; or two, by holding the optional Bridle Leather Travel Handle, which fastens two leather straps to the loops on the sides (when folded). The latter also has a loop for hangers to hook onto, such that garments would not drop to the bottom of the bag when you are out and about. In my humble opinion, both methods have their own merits.
For option one, I found it more suitable when you are already traveling with a suitcase, in which you would store the garment bag inside the former. It is also more appropriate if you are mostly using it as a storage bag inside a wardrobe, for purposes such as moth-prevention, rather than traveling long distances with it.
Whereas for the latter, I found it more applicable when you are carrying the bag for a prolonged period of time, given the hefty weight of the 12oz cotton. It is remarkedly more comfortable than holding the hooks directly, as the latter tends to cut one's blood circulation. On top of that, if you are only traveling with a small carry-on suitcase, you can simply loop the straps around the suitcase handle with ease.
The Signature Garment Bag currently comes in four colorways and in two sizes.
The regular size is 100 centimeters long and six centimeters deep, which is suitable for carrying up to three shirts or two suits as recommended by Arterton. The large, on the other hand, is 132 centimeters long and nine centimeters deep, which can hold up to three suits or two overcoats.
There are also two offerings for the travel handle, which come in a saddlery brown and a British racing green.
You can learn more about the Signature Garment Bag via Arterton's site.
Disclaimer: I was offered the Signature Garment Bag and the Modular Travel Handle by Arterton. All opinions are my own.
Photography: as stated, otherwise own