The dormant travel industry saw less of Instagram ‘flex’ pics of jetsetters with their monogrammed suitcases – so much so that even Away, the notorious direct-to-consumer luggage brand, slashed its prices in its first-ever sale to offload stock after sales plummeted more than 90% over the pandemic period.
United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation saw international travels plunge during peak months – 81% in July and 79% in August – translating into a loss of $730 billion in export revenues, eight times the loss experienced from the 2009 global economic crisis.
Rimowa, the luxury luggage brand under Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy’s (LVMH) group is not any different as sales nearly halved in 2020, despite other brands seeing a mild recovery in luxury purchases. 95% of the brand’s sales are reliant on its core line of suitcases – notably, its infamous grooved polycarbonate suitcases which have long been associated as a luxury status symbol.
Redesigned for the New Generation
Still, its heritage image remained at that, but the growing Gen Z group needed another push that differed from the traditional social image of elite travelers, as this consumer segment favoured individuality and unique experiences.
In steps Alexandre Arnault at age 24 (now 28), son of Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, with a fresh pair of eyes and mindset to turn the legacy brand around – and not just by changing the logo to a sans serif typeface.
Understanding the notion of personalization especially in all lifestyle aspects, the brand has leapt out of its usual frame but expanded into several successful sold-out collaborations and a new product extension that fits today’s global citizen.
In its recent collaboration with Dior under Kim Jones direction, Rimowa debuted ‘Personal’, a minuscule version encompassing the design of its original suitcase with an aluminium body and a leather cross-body strap in trend of the tiny bags seen today. Soft bags under its ‘Never Still’ collection has also made a debut this week (to arrive in-stores mid-Jan 2021), alongside smaller accessories such as iPhone cases and Rimowa packing cube cases – items that are small, but easy cross-sell items.
Starting at €600, the day-to-day luggage tote and backpacks are designed for the everyday traveler – from the office to Equinox, or dashing off to the airport gate. “The reasons for and accessibility to travel has undoubtedly redefined its purpose. For much of our clientele, the boundaries between business and leisure may be blurred, and as such, our products and brand must always be ready to serve the needs of both at once.” says Arnault.