The luxury luggage brand Rimowa has launched a new design and marketing approach to push back against its competition from startups. You may have seen their classic pieces rolling alongside A-list celebrities or in its most recent collaboration with Virgil Abloh. As pictured below, the designer collaborated with the brand to create a completely transparent version of the iconic suitcase.
While the hardshell case and grooves of Rimowa luggage are iconic, the brand does not have as much exposure as other luxury brands and its fans mainly include wealthier customers. The new CEO, Alexandre Arnault, is determined to transform the brand into more than just a niche luggage designer.
The luggage costs approximately $1000, which is a steep cost for many shoppers. However, the brand’s current fans rave about the unparalleled quality that is the indestructible hardshell and smooth wheels. A part of this quality comes from Rimowa’s focus on craftsmanship. In fact, 80% of the production process occurs by hand. This new focus on craftsmanship has led to videos that detail the production process and boast about the product’s durability.
A few years ago several startups joined the industry and claimed to have high quality luggage at lower prices. Some of these brands, such as two-year old Away, are successful. Other brands failed, largely due to adding high tech features to their design, which did not meet airport regulations. In order to ensure that they stay competitive, Rimowa has kept its design classic and uncomplicated, while ensuring they stay connected to industry movers and shakers. For example, earlier this year, the brand gifted everyone at a TED event with a suitcase.
Brands that are as successful as Away will still be major competitors for Rimowa, regardless of their new marketing techniques. Away, whose luggage is featured below, has also taken an international marketing approach and has partnered with many celebrities, including Dwyane Wade. The startup also developed its own media company with a print magazine and podcast that focuses on travel. This gives them a great edge in an industry where many brands are solely focused on functionality.
Regardless of their specific techniques, the larger theme for both brands is that they focus on the power luggage has as a fashion statement, and not simply as a functional item one needs for travelling. This creates space for innovation and healthy competition in an industry that is trying to win over millennials.