Air travel is such that these days, even first-class ticket holders, despite the endless pampering, from plush lounges to shorter VIP queues, must at some point strip down to their socks and display all their most personal items in a sandwich bag for all the world to see. Oh, the glamour.
And so, as airports are steadily grounding to a halt, along with our patience, there’s at least one thing with which to defend our dignity. Our choice of carry-on. For most men, hand luggage – and a good suit carrier of course – is often all that’s required and is a smart way to avoid the baggage deliverance game. Today, there’s a vast array of styles from hardy leather weekend holdalls, to light-weight tech-inspired cases that practically wheel themselves. And of course, the classic trunks that look just as good as a vintage coffee table as they do on a conveyer belt.
If this case had a flying aesthetic equivalent we’d be looking at legendary British fighter aircraft, the Spitfire no less. Its symmetry of components, coherent identity and integrity of craftsmanship make for a delightful collection of trunks, one of the few that people still carry, thanks to their canny evolution of wheel and handle additions. Every time I carry a Globe-Trotter it always elicits a comment on what a beautiful bag I have. They’re remarkably strong, with lightweight functionality and an iconic aesthetic. Now, just pick a colour.
If a carry-on bag that you actually carry as opposed to roll along is more your thing, then this ruby-red leather offering from Smythson of Bond Street is just what you want. Imagine how incredible this weekend hold-all in deer-skin will look in 10 years with natural patina, or right now when matched with a long camel coat and roll neck for a weekend winter retreat. It’s quite the treat to carry 127 years of British heritage and the holder of three Royal warrants in your hands.
Founded in 1849 during the great Parisian era of trunk-making, the House of Moynat makes traditional trunks that are synonymous with the automobile industry, its iconic curved bags designed to fit the forms of these new vehicles. The Limousine model still holds the soft curve, and the trunks are made in the traditional way with poplar slats, strengthened by metal and covered in varnished canvas replete with their signature latch-bolt lock. The shape of the Limousine Briefcase collection, shown here in cognac natural cow hide is something to treasure and an ode to the history of the house and its made-in-Paris craft heritage.
There are few brands instantly recognisable from their signature intrecciato leather design. In a recent exhibition, I was lucky enough to witness first-hand some of the craftsmen and women, who train for 12 years with Bottega Veneta, as they weaved to perfection strips of the softest lambskin leather into peerless creations of luxury design. Often, accessories from fashion brands are heavily laden with logos, patterns, emblems, paint splatter – you name it. So, it’s refreshing that luxury can be as understated as this Bottega Veneta leather cabin-case. At the same time, it’s brilliantly practical and easy-to-use with four 360-degreee rotating wheels.
The Great American Hero
It’s been said there’s no such thing as a luxury American brand. However, I would refute that and include heritage luggage brand, Mark Cross as a definitive item of luxury. The brand that began as a Boston saddlery in 1845 was resurrected in 2012 and is enjoying success again. What they’ve very cleverly done with their bags is to take classic trunk designs and modernise them into practical and stunning smaller handbags for women. The fact that they use some of the finest leathers in the world and keep excess hardware and logos to a minimum is very much part of the brand’s charm. So, look out for the re-launch of their men’s collections this March and snag the Diver Folio whilst you can.
Working with a number of revered designers, Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano, founded in 1946, very much maintains classic elements combined with contemporary material innovation to produce a hugely diverse range of luggage. Both design-led and detail-orientated, the made-in-Italy brand has the industrial processes to combine solid aluminium shells with soft Italian-leather handles in their Bank collection. And pushing the design element to the max, products such as the Bank Bed Station or Work station suggest what the next generation of luggage truly has to offer.
The contemporary world of luggage offers an incredible display of innovative use of materials, integrated technology, supreme functionality and a continuing dedication to lightweight build. In particular, this offering from Rimowa will have you gawp in amazement – the case features an E-Ink Mobius display built into the bag itself. When combined with the airline app and the RIMOWA Electronic Tag, passengers can not only check themselves in but also check in their baggage by just using their phone. Digital luggage information is sent to the passenger for additional security and convenience, meaning that even Charles de Gaulle Airport might not lose your bag.
When shopping for speciality products, it’s common sense to invest in brands that are known for that specific item. For bags that will not only survive being thrown around by luggage handlers but is likely to fight back, a brand like Tumi that continuously pushes innovation and functionality is a wardrobe essential. From solid steel machine screws to its exclusive, virtually abrasion-proof FXT Ballistic Nylon fabric, it’s easy to see why Tumi one of the most reliable brands out there. For Spring/Summer ’18, grab your surf boards and the brand’s first ever aluminium collection, we’re heading for some contemporary California dreaming.
Pretty Young Thing
Anyone who’s ever had to live out of a suitcase knows the need for the lightest, largest and most manoeuvrable ones available. I once slid all the way down the hazardously smooth flat escalator leading on to the Eurostar platform in Paris with merely two Samsonite 84-litres to grasp on to. Fortunately, the embarrassment and shrieking aside, I managed to stay upright and my ego was the only thing battered and bruised. My poor Samsonites, meanwhile, were quite used to this. Having been dragged up and down stairs and halfway across London, these two trusty cases have faced as much wear and tear as any bag ever will. The fact that they’re still in perfect working order is why I’ll always implore you – invest in your luggage.