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Rethinking Travel

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon • 9 min read
Rethinking Travel
RIMOWA’s new Never Still collection provides functional and elegant solutions for daily urban commuting
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RIMOWA’s new Never Still collection provides functional and elegant solutions for daily urban commuting, business and beyond. Options speaks to the brand’s newly-appointed non-executive chairman Alexandre Arnault to find out more.

It was a game of will-they-won’t- they back in September of last year when French multinational corporation and conglomerate specialising in luxury goods LVMH made a bid to buy luxury jewellery retailer Tiffany & Co. The saga started with a bid, then a backdown and later with the threat of lawsuits on both sides. However, the sale finally went through in October.

According to Bloomberg, the agreement was reached at a reduced price of almost US$16 billion ($21.29 billion). The compromise ends a year-long saga characterised by accusations of bad faith, French government intervention and lawsuits.

It all worked out in the end with Bernard Arnault’s intervention. He is LVMH’s chairman, CEO and France’s wealthiest man. LVMH’s empire oversees luxury brands like Moët & Chandon, Krug, Ruinart; Bvlgari, TAG Heuer, Chaumet, Dior Watches, Zenith, Fred and Hublot, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior Couture, Celine, Loewe, Kenzo, Givenchy, Fendi, RIMOWA and more.

RIMOWA was recently in the news when a press statement released at the start of this year announced the appointment of Hugues Bonnet who succeeds Alexandre Arnault who has led the acquisition, integration and development of RIMOWA. Arnault has joined Tiffany & Co. as its executive vice president, product and communications but he still remains as RIMOWA’s non-executive chairman.

The brand has been producing premium luggage for the discerning traveller since 1898. Inspired by the aeroplanes of the pioneering era of aircraft construction, in 1937 the brand introduced aluminium into the manufacture of its suitcases revolutionising the industry and creating their iconic design with parallel grooves.

In 2000, they created the first polycarbonate case that was designed and engineered in Germany, RIMOWA combines heritage and craftsmanship with the rigours of modern technology. In 2016, the brand joined LVMH Group and with it an expansion into functional luxury with the RIMOWA Never Still collection.

Prior to joining the LVMH Group, Arnault — who studied computer science at ParisTech and Ecole Polytechnique — worked at McKinsey & Co and KKR in New York. Options had a chance to put forth some questions to Arnault before his role changed.

RIMOWA has been described as the forefront of travel innovation. What is your own personal description?

It’s both a personal pride and that of the entire team, that we are known particularly as being at the forefront of travel innovation. In many ways, that broader sentiment is also my personal description and it’s a testament that those align. But beyond that goal, RIMOWA is in many ways like the enduring cases we craft. It has a 122-year legacy that I’m entrusted to uphold, so for me, RIMOWA is a mission to constantly go further, constantly better.

When you took over, what were some of the first things you changed and retained?
A key focus has been adding value to every touchpoint along the travel journey. We’ve done this by reinventing what it means to be a “luxury” brand today, merging worlds, and bringing creative from across industries together. From hospitality to mobility and fashion, the many commercial inter- sections of today’s travellers are in the midst of a revolution.

For RIMOWA, it was important that we seize on the opportunities brought about by these cross-currents by innovating in the product, retail, and brand experience. Additionally, by rapidly growing the company’s digital presence we’ve opened up new ways for customers to experience the brand, joining a greater cultural conversation in which we can consistently prove our heritage, market leadership, and trendsetter status.

Was the successful launch of the iPhone cases and later eyewear line items that started it all?
The successful launch of travel essentials, the Groove iPhone Case and eyewear have been just one in a constellation of new products that we’re going to see emerging from RIMOWA — all aimed at catering to our customers across an expanded scope of travel touchpoints.

What do you hope to achieve with this personal mobility collection and what kind of reaction do you want to see from your customers?
The opening up of novel product categories such as our new collection of multi-use soft bags is allowing us to explore a more multifaceted approach to travel and mobility.

By responding to the needs of purposeful travellers today, this new collection of mobility essentials provides contemporary, functional and elegant solutions for daily urban commuting, business and beyond. We’re building tools that emphasise longevity and facilitate our customers’ diverse array of travel experiences while drawing on our rich design and pioneering savoir-faire.

SEE: The plight of the ancient mariner

How do ambassadors help with the brand’s image? Are we likely to see more?
What makes RIMOWA’s approach to brand ambassadors unique is that every person we work with not only fits perfectly with the brand’s ethos — No One Builds a Legacy by Standing Still — but, importantly, each is a true RIMOWA user with a personal experience of the brand.

Authenticity in the way we approach our ambassadors, along with the stories we seek to articulate together with them, has made these lasting partnerships resonate with our audience beyond just a season.

We aren’t looking to build trendy moments, rather we’re showcasing the stories of lasting legacies.

What are some of your sustainability programmes?
Over the last few years, we have conscientiously moved toward implementing more sustainability measures throughout the business, from switching our essential printed materials to recycled papers and going digital where possible, to incorporating more recycled and recyclable materials in our latest designs and upcycling our own cast-off elements at production to reduce waste.

In addition to these efforts, we have recommitted to the cornerstone of our business “luggage to last a lifetime” by expanding and promoting our outstanding Client Care and Repair Services that ensure the longevity of our carefully crafted travel tools.

We’re trialling concierge assistance in cities around the world aimed at luggage tune-ups and personal shopping to ensure each RIMOWA customer is paired with products that fit their needs for both today and tomorrow, for travel and beyond.

The skies have now gone silent and we don’t know for how long. What do you think will be some of the major changes in travel trends we will likely see when the borders reopen?

Inevitably, these shifts in consumer behaviour will affect the sector, whether shorter term or for the long haul it’s difficult to be certain. One thing is for sure, however, RIMOWA will continue to cater to our travellers and evolve alongside their needs as we have been for 122 years. Over the last months, as our clientele has shifted their travel focus from long-haul and business travel to shorter getaways and increased urban-focused commuting, RIMOWA was pivoted as well offering both products and inspirational content that focuses on these trend shifts.

Moving forward, what’s coming up for the brand in the next 12 months?
As it has many times before in its 122-year history, RIMOWA is innovating and meeting an evolving mobility landscape head-on by entering new product categories and continuing to build essential tools for the modern discerning traveller with an emphasis on functionality and longevity.

Never Stay Still

RIMOWA launches the much-anticipated multi-use soft bag line — RIMOWA Never Still — a collection of mobility essentials for the travellers of today. The collection focuses on offering a new way to enhance and cater to our customer’s travel experience, the introduction of RIMOWA Never Still marks a significant step in evolving the brand’s product portfolio with a new take on functional luxury.

Made in Italy, this unisex collection consists of five different products designed for a wide range of uses. Each features the iconic design such as the grooved design, bespoke hardware showcasing the brand’s monogram and logo with a flexible travel strap. Colours include black, grey, cactus, desert rose and saffron. Crafted out of premium materials such as durable water-repellent canvas and soft full-grain leather, this essential new collection is built to withstand the rigours of modern travel.

The RIMOWA Never Still Backpack and the Backpack Small are designed to the road warrior well-equipped with plenty of practical pockets both inside and out to keep all your office paraphernalia. Crafted out of premium canvas and lined with a tone-on-tone grosgrain fabric, the backpacks feature adjustable shoulder straps and either one or two front zip grooved leather exterior pockets with unique debossed grooves created exclusively for this collection.

Larger in size and crafted from the same fine materials, the RIMOWA Never Still Backpack Large features a padded strap and back for more additional comfort, and a flap-top secured by a bespoke smart magnetic buckle emblazoned with the brand’s logo. Inside, a zipped pocket and organisational compartments are designed to accommodate essentials like a mobile phone and laptop.

The RIMOWA Never Still Tote is designed to perfectly fit a 15-inch laptop and mobile phone as well as a convenient removable zipped pocket. An innovative double handle system allows customers to choose to wear the bag as either a shoulder bag or tote.

Finally, the RIMOWA Never Still Weekender is designed to see you through a staycation weekend. This bag includes a spacious interior with two zipped compartments that easily fits everything needed for a well-deserved break. When borders reopen, this bag is perfect for a business trip that can easily fit a 15-inch laptop, a mobile phone and more.

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