May 18 2011
Lucia van der Post
I suffer from luggage envy. At every airport, other people always seem better sorted than I am. Which is why I’m eyeing up Tumi’s latest luggage collection. Its claim to fame is that it is embellished with the graffiti-inspired works of the American urban artist John “Crash” Matos, which means that one is extremely unlikely to do as I once did at Johannesburg airport and set off with somebody else’s case, which was identical to my own.
There are four pieces in Tumi’s Tag collection – a 20in international carry-on (£465), a two-wheeled 20in international carry-on (£445), a 25in medium-trip packing case (£545) and a 29in extended-trip packing case (£595, pictured). Now, while it’s the energy and quirkiness of the exteriors that appealed to me (Matos grew up in the South Bronx, and at 13 started spray-painting subway trains; now his works reside in MoMa in New York, Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and many private collections), we all know that patterns alone do not a fine suitcase make.
Tumi, though, is all about engineering. Tag is made from a lightweight, high-performance, triple-layer ABS polycarbonate shell. It is beautifully lined, has lightweight wheels, retractable handles and Tumi’s Omega Closure System, which reduces the risk of damage to the zipper. It’s a limited edition (1,000 copies of each model) and if you want something that stands out you could hardly do better. I love the idea of art on the move – a piece of work devised in NYC may end up on a carousel in Beijing, São Paulo or Vladivostock.