With intrepid branding, key players such as Rimowa and Away have turned luggage into a fashionable, desirable category – but their retail experiences lag behind in terms of excitement. An adventurous Italian brand called Crash Baggage is changing that, boldly showing how physical buzz can match the online one.
Shanghai – Post-LVMH Rimowa has spearheaded the way into turning the creatively staid luggage category into a fashionable, desirable and even collectible purchase – the brand is behind limited-edition collaborations with the likes of Supreme, Virgil Abloh and Olafur Eliasson. Its retail spaces, though, still exist in bland pre-LVMH times. Key competitors, such as Away and Horizon, have fallen into the same anodyne trap. Using a hip suitcase might be exciting, but buying it in person is still a humdrum experience.
Crash Baggage, an Italian brand founded in 2013, is showing the sector how to do in-store fun the right way. For its pop-up space at Shanghai’s Galeries Lafayette, the company recruited Frame Awards 2019 Emerging Designer of the Year Alberto Caiola to come up with an experience that would speak louder about the brand’s philosophy – no-rules travel, handle without care – than its tongue-in-cheek pre-battered suitcases could.
Crash did not save the fun exclusively for its social media posts, unlike its competitors, and it literally paid off
That resulted in a bright yellow installation featuring a chariot riding to nowhere – a stationary bike holding a herd of piled-up suitcases behind. It made no logical sense, but it made business sense: the brand reaped sales and awareness results due to this temporary outing. In other words: Crash did not save the fun exclusively for its social media posts, unlike its competitors, and it literally paid off.
‘Crash as a brand is the outlaw of luggage brands,’ explained Caiola. ‘As such, it doesn’t want to please everybody – it just wants its own people.’ As so many luxury luggage brands try to speak to every consumer at the same time in their physical outposts – Rimowa in particular seems bent on bringing in young consumers while still appealing to its old guard – this is, ironically, a way to actually please many more.
Alberto Caiola’s work for Crash Baggage shows the opportunity cost of not applying an omnichannel approach to a brand’s narrative. It’s no use engaging people online and then disappointing them at the point of purchase.