IT’S HARD, AT TIMES, not to be a tad overwhelmed by stuff. We live in the ultimate consumer bubble, and recent supply chain issues aside, it’s never been easier to find any product you could ever think of — from pricey to inexpensive — at the click of an Amazon purchase. If something breaks, becomes outdated, or bores us, there’ll always be something to replace it. We can swap out stuff as easily as we can change our clothes.
This free-for-all approach to products has some pretty dastardly environmental implications, and I also happen to think it dilutes the satisfaction we receive from what we do already own. Items can feel soulless when they aren’t unique, and it’s difficult to develop a relationship with a product that will likely end up in the recycle bin by next year.
That’s why monograms matter. Three simple letters stamped onto a product make a world of difference — a canvas bag becomes a well-worn family heirloom, a set of sheets transforms into the ultimate luxury, a piece of luggage recalls the more genteel old-world days of travel. These items are something beautiful we can truly own, take care of, treasure, and feel a sense of satisfaction from every time we see them. They are mine (or yours), whatever that means in this ephemeral age.
I have always wanted to be one of those highly organized travelers, the ones with the printed-out itineraries kept in their well-ironed pants pocket. But I am much more a student of chaos theory, tending to blow wherever the trade winds send me. A monogrammed Smythson travel wallet helps me feel meticulous, with compartments big enough to carry train tickets, receipts, and varied currencies. Most importantly, the monogram tells people I undoubtedly plan ahead, at least enough to order something entirely unique to me. SHOP NOW
Though my mornings are often a scramble of health supplements, too much caffeine, and a laundry list of unanswered emails and tasks to complete, it’d be so nice to be one of those leisurely gents from an old movie who takes his coffee and grapefruit with the morning paper. He’d wear one of these monogrammed robes by Pratesi, the century-old Italian maker of fine linens and bedding. SHOP NOW
One stylish way to spruce up your average — and by now probably a little tired — work-from-home ’fit? A set of personalized PJs to make it so your loungewear feels more luxurious than it does lazy. And it’s not just about the monogram. The entire vibe of this J. Crew look feels straight out of “Mad Men,” the kind of PJs with panache that we just don’t see enough of anymore. SHOP NOW
There’s nothing more personal than your bed, meaning it makes total sense to personalize it. Monogrammed bed sheets feel like the kind of thorough luxury Oprah Winfrey would indulge in — a small, opulent detail that turns an everyday object like bedding into something fit for a king or queen. SHOP NOW
I don’t think I’m the only person who gets a little hit of excitement each time a customs officer stamps my passport from a new location, adding a fresh inky souvenir to my booklet with each international trip. Why shouldn’t your passport holder be as personalized as the passport itself? Louis Vuitton has come to the rescue with an incredibly beautiful monogrammable version, one that recalls the glory days of grand travel but with an entirely modern — and individual — twist. SHOP NOW
Alex Frank Writer
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.