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You can tell it is conference season in the northern hemisphere by the sudden jump in correspondence asking for my help with presentations. Over the past few weeks there has been an odd mix of requests filling up this column’s postbag as readers scramble to finish presentations while they are between connecting flights or propped in bed. With so many readers looking for advice on who’s getting it right and wrong in various sectors, I decided that it’s time for another edition of Fast Lane’s travellers’ index. The concept is simple: I chronicle my week on the road and highlight the small pleasures and excellent business practices and products that I have come across – as well as those that need to improve.
Toronto, Friday May 2 Haven (a solid, well-stocked fashion store): polite service, a good buyer who knows how to fill a few rails and a deep stockroom are a few of the basics for running a successful boutique. Canadian retailer Haven has made a name for itself in North America by stocking a mix of mostly Japanese, American and Canadian labels. Engineered Garments makes the best unstructured cotton blazers for summer travel; Kapital does excellent denim from Okayama; and Reigning Champ is the master of the sweatshirt.
Pearson airport: On a busy Friday evening on my way out of Toronto, only one staffer at British Airways’ check-in desk was in uniform. It made for a very confusing scene. One might have been forgiven for thinking that the passengers had taken self check-in to a whole new level and were manning the desks. BA later told the FT that it had been a one-off staff induction day. I would suggest that it might be best to do a test run – and not to try out new staff on real passengers waiting for a busy night flight.
Marylebone, London, Saturday May 3 My apartment: you don’t need much more than sun, happy plants on the terrace and some good tunes to shake away the cobwebs and fine layer of pollutants accumulated overnight on an ancient 747. If you’ve been looking for a new anthem to get you moving in the morning, I can highly recommend Noriyuki Makihara’s “Life Goes On ~ like nonstop music”. Delightfully cheesy and optimistic in a way that only Japanese pop stars still manage to pull off, it’s perhaps not a tune for your morning run but better suited for a little dance in your pyjamas.
Chiltern Street: while walking between my office and our café, I realised that my new Common Projects suede slip-ons were officially the shoe of the season and I should have bought another pair. Ideal for airport security queues that demand shoes to be removed, and a bit of a hybrid between sneaker and substantial slipper, I highly recommend them as they work well both with a chino (with a decent stretch of ankle showing) or shorts.
Stockholm, Tuesday May 6 Mellqvist Kaffebar: still one of the best places for that unbeatable combo of good coffee and a cardamom and cinnamon bun. If you’re in or near Stockholm, it’s worth a visit just to sit among the latte mamas and papas enjoying their time away from the workplace.
Papercut (magazines and books): Every city needs a Papercut and I managed to swing by this perfectly formed emporium of mags, books, DVDs and CDs to stock up on a few cookbooks, a couple of obscure new start-up journals and some other favourite reads. Print and even DVD sales are alive and well when offered in a well-considered setting.
Kina Theatre: the Swedes know how to do a good conference. Indeed they should, as every time you need to reach someone at a Swedish company, they seem to be at one. I spoke about all things magazine- and newspaper-related at the annual Stockholm Media Week and there’s something very reassuring about being looked after by Oskars and Lasses who are focused on making sure your audio is perfect, your presentation flows flawlessly and you are always under good lighting.
Lufthansa A320, Wednesday May 7, Stockholm to Frankfurt Slimline seats might make sense for dainty, slimline passengers but an Airbus packed with towering Vikings and Kartoffel-fed Germans just doesn’t work. Aside from being completely uncomfortable, all of those big frames stuffed into tiny seats just looks clumsy and wrong. Best avoided, if you can.
Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine
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