Rimowa’s Renaissance

Since its landmark acquisition by LVMH in 2016, Rimowa has emerged the luggage maker of choice for a distinct group of fashion forward globetrotters. What began in 1898 as a family owned enterprise in Cologne, Germany, has today become a symbol of cultural adeptness and an appreciation for the sort of quality originally pioneered by Louis Vuitton, Tumi and Goyard.

Characterized by sleek, elegant design and lightweight functionality, the iconic suitcases have seen a dramatic increase across the Instagram profiles of celebrities, athletes and influencers such as Virgil Abloh, Naomi Campbell and Roger Federer.

This renewed cultural relevance is due largely to the appointment of co-CEO Alexandre Arnault who at just twenty-six years old, has enhanced Rimowa’s global profile through strategic partnerships and collaborations with brands like Supreme, Fendi and Off-White.

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By aligning Rimowa with today’s most relevant luxury brands, Arnault is helping to further bridge the gap between legacy luxury houses and street style brands in order to appeal to the millennial luxury consumer.

Rimowa first introduced it’s signature grooved suitcase in 1950 and has since expanded its line to include a range of products in various shapes, sizes and materials. For over a century it’s remained a leading luxury luggage maker. However, if the brand is to keep pace with the shift from property ownership to an experience driven economy they’ll need to find new ways to deepen the relationship between its products and the consumer.

In the US, Rimowa still has a ways to go in the direct to consumer space. The brand does not yet offer e-commerce, making access to their products challenging for those outside of metropolitan regions and putting them behind competitors who offer more affordable and almost equally stylish suitcases to the travel generation. One such competitor is startup AWAY, who recently introduced a Rimowa inspired, aluminum body suitcase complete with usb charging port.

While Rimowa works to make e-commerce a reality in the US, they are also focused on ways to reach young, new customers and enhance the overall consumer-product relationship. Since joining, co-CEO Arnault has instilled a much needed youthful perspective in the hundred and twenty year old brand. What the École Polytechnique grad recognizes that many others don’t is that luggage is more than something you pull out of your closet when the time comes to board an aircraft. Rather, it’s as much a statement of your personality as are the shoes on your feet.

You see people who are much more interested in buying suitcases that look good with what they’re wearing and are interested in their look when they travel. We’re lucky enough to have a very identifiable product that has a very sleek, slick design.

Looking forward, Rimowa has plans to improve the entire travel experience by leveraging technology and expanding beyond luggage. The company recently introduced a digital tracking feature allowing consumers to see the exact location of their luggage via Bluetooth connection. Arnault also plans to add other travel products and even experiences to the Rimowa lineup. How exactly that will look is still to be determined.

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Fortunately for Rimowa, parent company LVMH is uniquely positioned to address the global shift to the travel and experience-based economy brought on by millennials. The company has long mastered the art of travel with a number of investments in the leisure and hospitality industries and with Arnault’s strong digital background, Master’s degree in innovation and firsthand familiarity with the company portfolio, some might say the young CEO is more suited than anyone to lead Rimowa into it’s next generation.

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