Before, those who carried a lot of luggage traveled and did not carry it themselves. Kings, nobles, bourgeois, many of the passengers of the titanic, the Orient Express, explorers, archaeologists… Thanks to the tourist or economy class of ships, trains and planes, today almost all of us travel. Travelers who pay less for a ticket that entitles us to carry a small or cabin suitcase that we pull, push or carry, depending on the situation, ourselves. The suitcase has gone from being a “kind of box provided with a handle that is used, especially when traveling, to transport clothes and other objects”, which is how the RAE defines it, to becoming one more accessory, like a bag or a mobile phone. In this context, the design, materials, texture and color of the suitcase matter.
“It has ceased to be a travel item and has become part of the consumer’s lifestyle, also representing their tastes and aesthetic preferences. A suitcase improves, facilitates and embellishes all aspects of life on the move”, he assures via e-mail Daniel La Porta, member of the Tumi brand team. He gives the impression that the luggage industry has positioned itself in a field more similar to that of bags and footwear, in which the client is allowed to have different models. On the other hand, Gina Italiano, director of production for Tuscany Leather, an Italian artisan manufacturer of travel bags, among other adaptable and ergonomic products, believes that those who travel for work have always considered their luggage as a fashion item, and He adds that “in recent times this concept has been extended to all travelers. It is possible that it is due to the increasing use of social networks and constantly wanting to show the best version of oneself”. This is how it happens that suitcase brands are advertised in magazines and fashion sections and not in travel ones, and that airport terminals, mainly, have become catwalks in which, more and more, passengers wear their functional, innovative and beautiful suitcases as if they were models parading on revolving wheels.
Travel has already resumed as normal after the coronavirus (the WHO decreed the end of the international emergency due to covid at the beginning of last May) and luggage manufacturers have noticed it. “After the pandemic, the illusion of traveling returned and for doing it longer or to more distant destinations. For this reason, in sales there has been a greater demand for large suitcases,” says Fernando Parejo, director of marketing from Samsonite. The question that, sooner or later, one asks is, what is a good and beautiful suitcase? To the one that follows: And how much does it cost?
A good suitcase has to be resistant —it will never receive the love it deserves—, light and spacious —to fill it with just in case—, of quality and expensive —but expensive in the short term—. A travel companion that does not give problems. “A poor quality one can negatively affect our trips, if it does not open, if it breaks, if it does not slide easily, etc., making us lose money and time,” Parejo details from Samsonite.
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Buying a suitcase is a set of decisions and an investment according to what is going to be done with it. La Porta, from Tumi, explains: “The post-pandemic customer is much more concerned about the quality of his parts, placing the reliability of the product he purchases as a priority factor. He wants to make sure that his trip will not be ruined by a suitcase that he leaves behind ”. Soft or hard? The first one is flexible, there are even some with an expandable function, quite the opposite of, for example, a Rimowa, which is hard, rigid, light, durable and easy to clean. A piece of engineering that is not worth less than about 400 euros. From the cabin or to check in? Two or four wheels? Pulling is not the same as pushing. Four-wheelers go well on flat terrain, two-wheelers are better suited to rough terrain.
We are not talking about buying a car, but almost, because of today’s finishes, which can be shiny, matte and metallic, and because of what these items cost —some of them the same as a second-hand car. Fernando Parejo explains that Samsonite has spent years researching to design products that promote circularity, that is, designed to be strong enough to last for years, to be easily repaired instead of replaced, to weigh as little as possible, to be made with materials recycled or renewable and ultimately can be easily recycled. The objective that they have set is to close the cycle completely by reusing materials from used suitcases to manufacture new products. Some of his collections are framed in this line of work, such as Ecodiver, whose pieces are made with a patented material that is made 100% from recycled plastic bottles; or Major-Lite, made of a material called Curv, very light and resistant obtained from braided polypropylene. Prices range between 280 and 510 euros.
Luggage manufacturers work to create versatile, comfortable collections that adapt to what today’s travelers need. They make use of technology to innovate and develop better products. Samsonite is not the only one. Tumi draws inspiration from industries such as aeronautics, automotive, and sportswear. They have 125 invention patents and the main materials they use in the manufacture of their cases are FXT Ballistic Nylon, a double reinforced ballistic nylon; Tegris, a thermoplastic polypropylene composite material; or aerospace aluminum, polycarbonate, with a special alloy formulation in several layers. in their collections premium uses titanium and carbon fiber and have collaborated with the British sports car brand McLaren. An experience that is worth a price, in the specific case of Tumi suitcases, between 590 euros and 3,500 euros. You pay for quality and durability. It is a long-term investment or after many trips.
Less futuristic and more classic is Tuscany Leather. Manufacturer of handmade travel bags and, as they say from their customer service department via email, “respecting the environment thanks to the vegetable tanning technique, making use of tannins, which give the leather a natural and full color of life”. From the combination of traditional and contemporary values that they display, a niche product is derived that values and pays the 312 euros that a travel bag without wheels costs and the 726 euros that one with wheels costs.
These luggage are worth so much that they have a guarantee. An added value that protects, gives security and confidence to the owner of one of these suitcases that are more than just boxes with handles and wheels. In the case of Samsonite, there are them with a guarantee of up to 10 years and with a free repair service that they can receive in some of their stores. Tumi includes a one-year and a two- to five-year worldwide warranty against manufacturing defects, as well as after-sales service and the Tumi Tracer product take-back program. Tuscany Leather products have a two-year warranty and a post-warranty repair service. Before making use of the guarantee, if necessary, hopefully start the trip with a suitcase that will make it more comfortable for us.
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