Right after Christmas, I headed south to New Zealand for two weeks, and I made the mistake of checking a bag. The mistake wasn’t that the bag got lost by Air New Zealand, though given how inept the airline was with every other task I wouldn’t have been surprised, but that I packed way too much stuff, not having to squeeze two weeks worth of gear into my wheeled go-to, the amazing and ever-so-small Incase Rolling Brief. Two pairs of boots, really?

Well, once I got down there, I ignored most of the clothes I brought and lived in the handful of pieces that I’d chosen for their versatility, comfort, performance, and style, like Architec Apparel’s Glenbrook Merino Workshirt, which I wore every single day, including on the plane there and back. The Glenbrook is woven of 60 percent South Island merino wool and 40 percent cotton, with a tailored silhouette and light drape that works equally well over a tech tee or a thicker mid-layer. It dresses up pretty much everything you pair it with—worn open, it looks like a jacket (dear god, do not call it a shacket); worn buttoned, it looks like a nicely crafted shirt, albeit one too long to tuck into your trousers. The buttoned pockets have two compartments each—one protected by the button and another, fast access spot for critical items like ear buds or a packet of Tapatio spice.

The Glenbrook warded off a sand storm on the west coast of the North Island and the spray of a Milford Sound waterfall. During a light rain near Mt. Cook, it kept me dry long enough to hike another 10 minutes before putting on a proper shell. It did all this, in temperatures from hot to chill, without being overwhelming, turning natty, or getting stinky. I loved it, and I loved how it looked on. Quibbles? It wrinkles a wee bit, though to its credit it never degraded beyond that wee bit. And that generous helping of cotton would make me hesitate to carry it on more than a day hike. But perhaps that’s not fair—the Glenbrook is designed as a travel and light work shirt, not as a serious technical piece. That merino is the superpower of fabrics and that the Glenbrook is so beautifully designed it elevates your expectations. You think it can do everything, and it nearly can.

Small note of coincidence: Although I didn’t discover this until I’d returned, the wool for this piece came from Glenbrook Station near Omarama, which I drove past not one, but three times during my stay. Next time, I’m stopping by, though with a much smaller bag. —Steve Casimiro

 

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