Excess baggage jacket by Bruno's Originals: New Zealand fashion designer creates travel coat for trip home

Faced with the prospect of excess baggage charges, Kiwi fashion designer Bruno Harding came up with a sartorial solution.

Harding and his wife had been living in Berlin, Germany for a year-and-a-half when Covid-19 prompted them to move back to New Zealand in November.

While working out how they were going to get all of their possessions onto the plane, Harding created a special coat for stowing his clothes, giving himself an additional 7kg of "wear-on" baggage.

"I always thought it would be quite an interesting idea," he said.

"I did a bit of research into people who had failed doing similar things, like wearing five coats and five pairs of jeans and looking kind of ridiculous."

He went to a local flea market and picked up a couple of metres of nylon. Then he set about creating "something that sort of replicated a puffer jacket", using his own clothes in place of feathers to fill it.

He quickly realised the key to the jacket's success was in the folding of the clothes, using a method inspired by Japanese organising expert Marie Kondo.

"The first few times I made it, I just shoved it with clothes, and it looked ridiculous. I looked like a suspicious human who had stolen lots of goods who was trying to leave a store."

Once he'd nailed the folding technique, he managed to fit 29 items of clothing into the jacket, at a total weight of 6.8kg.


"It was surprisingly weighty," Harding said.

"It felt like an anxiety blanket – you were quite calmed, which was good for that journey."

Harding admitted he was nervous about whether or not his unique solution would fly at the airport. He had a back-up plan if the coat wasn't accepted by security, which was to leave it in a storage locker at the airport and get a friend in Germany to pick it up for him.

But amid all the "weirdness" of travelling during a pandemic – such as having to wear both a face mask and a full face shield – in the end, no one batted an eyelid at his coat.

At one point, he got too hot and took the coat off, walking through the airport with it casually slung over his arm.

"I was like, I'm really cheating the system now – I'm basically carrying another bag, but it's a jacket."

When unpacking his jacket, Harding took hundreds of photos of the items being taken out of it and created a stop motion video, which he recently posted to Instagram.

But while the travel coat has received a lot of interest, Harding said it was only ever intended as a one-off.

"I was really hoping not to get messages asking if I was making them."

In fact, every garment Harding makes as part of his label, Bruno's Originals, is one-of-a-kind, using repurposed materials like old canvas tents and woollen blankets.

In 2019, he collaborated with outdoor gear brand Macpac, creating a capsule collection using damaged products like tents, sleeping bags and packs, with proceeds going towards the brand's environmental charity, Fund For Good.

Currently based in Auckland, the designer is now preparing to relocate to New York, but acknowledged he may be pushing his luck by using his travel coat for that move.

"The security in American airports is a bit more terrifying… I'm not sure if I would want to."

Note: Traveller does not endorse passengers flouting carry-on baggage rules. Passengers should check their airline's policy and adhere to any restrictions.


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