Now that our PLIQO folding garment bag is getting closer to launch, we’re doing an increasing amount of pre-marketing – talking to potential retailers and customers about our product.

One question that comes up often is our ‘origin story’ – or in plain English – where did the idea for the PLIQO bag come from?

In fact, there have been many influences – but the original dates back to my childhood.

I spent much of my early life growing up in the Middle East – my dad was a diplomat, and an Arabist specifically. Back in the 1970s, it was very different from today. Where we were living, there were few of the shiny skyscrapers and multi-lane highways that you associate with today’s ultra-urban Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha.

One of my family’s favourite passtimes was camping. Not at campsites – there weren’t any of those. We went ‘wild camping’ – setting off into the sparsely inhabited desert, the mountains, and the places where the desert and the mountains met – with everything we needed for our time away from home. That included the obvious – tents, camp beds, sleeping bags and gas stoves – and ran on to all the food and water you could possibly need during three of four days away from home.

One morning in our desert camp, my dad pulled his portable canvas washbasin, mounted on a folding wooden frame, from the back of the Land Rover. Once assembled, he heated a pint of water, lathered his face, and took a razor to his foamy cheeks.

I was intrigued – not by my father’s determination to be perfectly shaved on the fringes of the Empty Quarter – but by the folding washstand’s origins.

It turned out that it had previously been my grandfather’s – and that he’d used it during WWII while campaigning in the Far East as a Colonel in the Royal Engineers. Not that he would have lugged the washbasin around – he would have had a batman for the heavy lifting. Sadly, the batman wasn’t his personal superhero – but a lower ranking soldier assigned to a commissioned officer as a kind of dogsbody.

Of course, to modern adventurers, with their superlight equipment, there’s something slightly ridiculous about lugging around a folding washbasin just to keep your jowls clean-shaven. And in this sense, I guess both my dad and grandfather belong to a different era – where appearances must be kept up, even at the cost of dragging around a portable basin.

Nonetheless, this moment in the desert fired a childish interest in all things folding – a journey that would take in a love of folding pocket knifes, folding sunglasses, folding bicycles – and more recently, folding headphones and folding cycle helmets.

And ultimately, the PLIQO bag – an ultra-compact folding garment bag every traveller would be happy to carry around with them.