While he may not spend as much time traveling as his globetrotting business partner, the 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown creative director John Moore spends a lot of his life “up in the air.” Whether it’s inspiration trips to Japan, a pilgrimage he has made annually for more than a decade, or shorter jaunts to Santa Barbara to surf or to the desert in Arizona to unplug, Moore—who launched the surf-inspired apparel brand with Slater in 2015 after being named one of GQ’s Best New Menswear Designers for his work on M.Nii—is a veteran traveler who has figured out how to travel light while also being prepared for every sartorial occasion he may encounter on his journeys.
“I swear by not checking in anything,” Moore says. He typically travels with just a backpack and a duffel bag (he has a rolling Tumi carry-on bag for longer stints). For an item to make it into Moore’s luggage, it needs to perform double, if not triple, duty. “Every single thing I pack, I think about how many different occasions I can wear it.”
When Moore was in New York recently to show Outerknown’s spring/summer 2017 pieces, the brand’s fourth full collection, we sat down with him to find out which travel essentials make the cut and go with him everywhere.
KLETTERWERKS FLIP BACKPACK
This bag was originally designed as a mountaineering pack in Bozeman, Montana, by Dana Gleason II, who went on to found renowned outfitter Dana Design. Kletterwerks made it more friendly for modern everyday carry by adding a padded laptop sleeve, but the sturdy Cordura nylon construction remains. “That’s where I put my computer. It’s easy to open up the top and pull things out.” says Moore, who is a big fan of the pack’s versatility. “I get frustrated when I know I’m going to be traveling through a winter climate for a long time because then I know that I have to pack a little heavier.”
OUTERKNOWN NOCHE SWEATER
“This is a sweater we’ve done since our first season,” Moore says of the Noche crewneck, which is made entirely from organic cotton in keeping with Outerknown’s sustainability mission. “It’s meant to feel like a classic t-shirt with this [breast] pocket. If you wear this over a woven shirt, it definitely dresses it up. Of you can wear it over a T-shirt and look casual. It’s also the perfect cover-up for a plane ride.”
FEIT HANDSEWN LOW SHOES
While the silhouette is reminiscent of a classic tennis shoe, the materials and construction rival the most exquisite luxury goods. Every pair of Feit shoes is handcrafted by a single craftsman using traditional Goodyear stitching techniques. The upper is made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather that breaks in beautifully over time. And since shoes take up a lot of space in a bag, being able to avoid taking multiple pairs is a plus for Moore. “I like them because I can wear them dressier or relaxed with a pair of shorts.”
“Regardless of where I go, regardless of what hemisphere or what season, I’ll always bring a pair of trunks,” says Moore. “I’m always hoping there’s waves or there’s a stopover somewhere where there’s waves. Or if I get none of the above, there’s at least pool I can swim in.” Not surprisingly for a company that Kelly Slater is the face of, trunks and boardshorts have always been a staple for Outerknown. One of the first innovations the brand developed was shorts using Econyl, a kind of fabric created from recycled fishing nets, and earlier this year, Outerknown released its Nomadic Trunks, which are made from recycled polyester and feature the performance qualities surfers look for but are offered at a more accessible price of $65.
VINTAGE LEVI’S TRUCKER JACKET
Two of Moore’s most prized possessions were scored at the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. One is a red canvas duffel bag and the other is his Levi’s jean jacket. “When I don’t wear it, people call me out for it. It goes with me everywhere,” he says. He purchased the deadstock vintage denim coat from two Japanese men at the flea market for $10. “It was rigid, dark indigo. If you see it today, it is threadbare and tattered.”
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
For Moore, time on the plane represents precious time that is free from distractions. “There’s no kids, no office noise, so I actually get a lot of work done. I’ll clear my inbox on a plane trip.” But he also likes to catch up on reading. “Right now, as cliche as it sounds, I have The Old Man And The Sea. It’s a first edition that was given to me as a gift. I am halfway through it and really into it.
Moore keeps his grooming routine very minimal. “I don’t have beard stuff. I don’t have special soap. When you’re surfing and and trying to get in the water whenever you can, that’s enough for me.” But he does have to maintain his long and curly hair. “I have a brush that I bring, a Wet Brush, because I have to tame the hair somehow. If I don’t brush my hair every now and then, it’s gnarly.”
WARBY PARKER READING GLASSES
After leaving a pair on the plane after a recent trip to New York, Moore quickly realized how dependent he is on the glasses he recently started wearing. “I panicked and realized that I am going blind,” he laughs. Fortunately someone on his team was able to help him get a replacement pair the same day from Warby Parker. “They’re killer,” Moore says.