Faced with the prospect of excess baggage fees, Kiwi fashion designer Bruno Harding came up with a sartorial solution.
Harding and his wife had been living in Berlin, Germany for a year and a half when Covid-19 prompted them to return to New Zealand in November.
While figuring out how they were going to get all their belongings on the plane, Harding created a special coat to store his clothes, giving himself an extra 7kg of baggage “to carry”.
“I always thought that would be a pretty interesting idea,” he said.
“I did some research on people who had failed to do similar things like wearing five coats and five pairs of jeans and looking a little silly.”
He went to a local flea market and picked up a few yards of nylon. Then he set out to create “something that sort of mimicked a puffer jacket”, using his own clothes instead of feathers to fill it.
He quickly realized that the key to the jacket’s success was in the folding of clothes, using a method inspired by Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo.
“The first few times I did it, I just pushed him with clothes on, and it looked ridiculous. I looked like a suspicious human who had stolen a lot of goods and was trying to leaving a store. “
After mastering the folding technique, he managed to fit 29 items of clothing into the jacket, for a total weight of 6.8 kg.
“It was surprisingly heavy,” Harding said.
“It was like an anxiety blanket – you were pretty calm, which was good for this trip.”
Harding admitted he was nervous about whether or not his one-size-fits-all solution would fly to the airport. He had a back-up plan if the coat was not accepted by security, which involved leaving it in a storage locker at the airport and asking a friend in Germany to collect it for him.
But amid all the “weirdness” of traveling during a pandemic – like having to wear both a full face shield and a full face shield – in the end, no one flinched.
At one point, he got too hot and took off his coat, casually walking through the airport slung over his arm.
“I was like, I’m really cheating the system now – I’m basically carrying another bag, but it’s a jacket.”
While unpacking his jacket, Harding took hundreds of photos of the items extracted from it and created a stop motion video, which he recently posted on Instagram.
But while the travel coat has garnered a lot of interest, Harding said it’s never been designed just once.
“I was really hoping I wouldn’t get any messages asking if I was making them.”
In fact, every garment that Harding makes under its label, Bruno’s originals, is one of a kind, using recycled materials like old canvas tents and woolen blankets.
In 2019, he collaborated with outdoor gear brand Macpac, creating a capsule collection using damaged products like tents, sleeping bags and backpacks, with the proceeds going to the environmental charity of the brand, Fund For Good.
Currently based in Auckland, the designer is now preparing to move to New York City, but has acknowledged that he could try his luck using his travel coat for the move.
“Security at US airports is a little more terrifying… I don’t know if I would like it.”
Note: The traveler does not approve of passengers who violate carry-on baggage rules. Passengers should check their airline’s policy and obey any restrictions.
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