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From the desk of Highsnobiety Editor-in-Chief Thom Bettridge, The Materialist is an editor’s letter in the form of a shopping spree. This week, Thom explores the benefits of a sublime state of being he calls “brisking” – a walking-distance path toward enlightenment.
Sometime in the mid-2010s, I returned to New York from two years living in Colombia much portlier than when I had departed. Luckily, my career at the time (as a curator-slash-failed-novelist-slash-man-about-town) allowed me plenty of bandwidth to focus on getting things back into shipshape. I adopted a number of lifestyle changes prescribed by a personal trainer friend, including one that had a profound effect on me: the practice of spending three hours per day briskly walking.
Walking the length of two feature films seems like a paltry endeavor until you start doing it regularly. To start, it’s actually good for getting in shape. But more importantly, the amount of ground you can cover (if you are brisk enough) is sneakily impressive. The commute from my apartment to my then-studio in Chinatown — a distance that seemed impossibly long while seated on the 6 train — was a mere 45 minutes. Drinks across the bridge in Williamsburg was just another half an hour. Even a daunting metropolis like New York is easily walkable when approached with unchecked confidence.
Before long, I grew into the habit of covering long swathes of territory on foot, listening to music and drinking iced coffee in a semi-meditative fugue state. I ditched my Japanese selvedge denim jeans for hiking pants that allowed for more range of motion and breathability. My canvas kicks made way for running shoes with wide-toe boxes and advanced cushioning systems. And this wasn’t how I dressed to “work out,” it was how I showed up everywhere. Over time, I wasn’t just a brisk walker: I was a brisk person.
To me, what I call “brisking” is not just about strolling copious amounts. It is a philosophy that merges hyper-functionality with daily life. Wearing head-to-toe gorp is for hiking. Wearing an insulated Arc’Teryx jacket under your camel overcoat is for brisking. This aesthetic attraction for the beautifully functional is also one that leaps out of the realm of walking and into a love for Land Rover Defenders, MA-1 flight jackets, hydrofoil sailboats, and Vitsoe shelving. Conversely, the brisk mentality is alarmed by leather-bound notebooks, perplexed by fashion backpacks, and would suffer ego death from wearing a Golden Goose sneaker.
In order to elaborate further on the tenets of brisking, here are the items on my highly brisk wish list.
Pelican 1450 Protector Case
The sight of chunky protective plastic, especially in a safety color, is as brisk as it gets. And the protective foam inside this case makes it the perfect alternative to a sullen laptop bag.
Garmin Tactix Delta GPS Watch
This watch takes your heart rate, tracks your steps, can display GPS coordinates with federal maps, has a mode for sky-diving, and features a 10-second “kill switch” that can wipe its data with the press of a button. However, it’s the ApplePay compatibility that makes it truly brisk.
Bose Sport Open Earbuds
Bose’s new open ear technology makes it possible to listen to Young Thug, run a 5k, take a conference call, and suck down a couple podcasts all without even penetrating your ear canal.
Mix Ace Li Ning
Li Ning’s contributions to the footwear game are an example of how brisk thinking can push aesthetics forward. This specimen featuring complementary colors, wild lacing, and a tennis-inspired upper is simply par for the course.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Dura-Ace Di2
When encountering other modes of transport, the brisk eye is drawn to functionality that borders into excess. And Cannondale’s top-of-the-line road bike has it all: a hyper-simplified form, aerodynamic geometries, carbon fiber, and a name that reads like a strong password.
Unlocking a new hobby like cycling is the opportunity to incorporate new and exotic gear into one’s daily routine. And a race car-inspired time trial helmet with a built-in Prizm lens seems like the perfect thing to try wearing to the bodega.
Thule Urban Glide 2
At a whole new time of personal and physical transformation, this hyper-fast jogging stroller has made brisking a staple of my newfound fatherhood and brought a new cargo-carrying capacity to the equation.
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