Classic style. Quality. Craftsmanship. Savoir Vivre. These are the crucial components of the Gentleman’s Gazette philosophy, and while they form the backbone of my personal approach to clothing, accessories and the good life, there is an important subtext to my work that I don’t often take the time to share directly. It would be easy to reduce style and living well to being simply material, but in 15 years pursuing my classic style passion, I have learned two things: experience your possessions, and don’t be afraid to give up your possessions for an experience.
There are many good reasons for treasuring a possession. They might be beautiful, rare, expensive or historically significant. But what meaning is there to owning something just to own it?
A perfect example for this philosophy is this grey 1957 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing that gets driven regularly, regardless of the weather or the road conditions. When the owner attends a car show, he and his wife have a lot of fun driving there, whereas all others bring their cars in custom trailers and touch them only if they wear gloves.
Goyard & I
Clearly, I am in agreement with the owner of the 300SL; for him it is a lifestyle that really suits him, but what if he had to sell the car? Sometimes, we get to a point in life where we have to give up something that we truly love and hate to part with to make way for something else. I encountered just such a situation seven years ago, and the realization that a treasured possession could grant me an even more valuable memorable moments made parting with them worth it.
When I was a poor student, I already had Champagne taste yet lived on a beer budget. As such, I always looked for interesting vintage finds. One day I came across an elegant gentleman who had recently retired and was looking to give away his tasteful professional wardrobe. He traveled to my city regularly and brought me some of his ties. On one occasion, he had stuffed an old suitcase that I immediately recognized as a characteristically patterned Goyard case. I asked if I could buy it, which he sold to me for a mere €30, and in passing he mentioned that it was part of a whole set that I could have. Of course, I promptly agreed.
Soon thereafter, I had the entire set. I reached out to Goyard, and after a quick correspondence with their Paris office, they confirmed that is was an original set from the late seventies. In fact, the center piece was a cartable, which was made for the Italian actor and style icon Marcello Mastroianni for his 24h trips from Paris to Rome. Furthermore, it came with a regular suitcase, a shirt trunk, a suitcase that was actually made just to hang suits and a mini dopp kit bag.
So, not only had I snatched a phenomenal deal on an iconic Goyard set, but it also had an interesting history. I had every reason to think I would treasure the cases for a lifetime, because I loved to travel with them in style and when I came back home, I used them to decorate my room.
A few years later I went to the US as an exchange student, where I met a girl. Just as we started to get serious, it was time for me to move back to Germany to finish my studies. Committed to my relationship and our goal to see each other as often as possible, we had to find a way to buy international plane tickets on a student budget. With a heavy heart, I decided to part with my Goyard set. I really loved it and had never anticipated selling it, but in this situation, I wanted to see my girlfriend, spend time with her and travel together in the US. A friend sold them one by one on eBay, and the proceeds exceeded $15,000 of which every penny was spent on airfare, with the exception of one vintage Burberrry trench coat. Today, I am happily married to that girl, but without giving up those Goyard suitcases, our long-distance relationship would have been all that much more difficult if not impossible.
Those Goyard suitcase were, without a doubt, one of the most memorable finds, and moments, of my life. Not only was I lucky in acquiring them, but also parting with them as they truly set the foundation for my future life.
If you ever have to choose between an experience and a possession, chances are the experience will make you happier in the long run. If possible, get the best of both worlds and take your treasured suit, chronograph or car with you on a road trip through South America, swim with dolphins or experience the wilderness in Africa.
Did you ever face a situation of that kind? What are your memorable experiences? Please share them with us in the comments!