Suit carriers have always held their own in a functional sense: not having to turn the hotel shower into a makeshift steam room in an attempt to uncrease a case-crushed suit in time for an imminent meeting is a gift that keeps on giving. But until recently, it was only luggage specialists who had really given them proper attention; now, tailoring and menswear brands have begun to offer their own slickly executed takes on the genre as a significant alternative to the thin carriers that come with a suit. And those refined interpretations have, in turn, prompted the original makers to up their game.
“Well-made and handsome luggage is one of those small, civilised luxuries I think we should all allow ourselves,” says G Bruce Boyer, author of True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear. And why shouldn’t suit carriers enjoy the same cachet as other travel cases? The very best of this new breed command prices approaching those you might expect for Savile Row suits themselves. Berluti’s stunning two‑hanger carrier (£2,560) in vitello seta (calf silk, an ultralight and supple hide) comes with a light cotton canvas lining, snap buttons and a zip fastener in brass with antique silver finish.
For leather-goods company Troubadour, which has collaborated with bespoke menswear outfitters Thom Sweeney on a suit carrier (£1,495), this parity was the point. “We wanted to create a leather piece that would be on a par with a beautiful bespoke suit in look, feel and ability to age beautifully,” says co-founder Abel Samet. Made from vegetable-tanned Italian leather with a grey, stain-proof suede lining, it is designed to hold up to two suits and four dress shirts, and features a folded external pocket for travel documents, and a hidden zippered passport pocket.
Another collaboration saw Louis Vuitton – one of the first luxury brands to create a smart suit carrier back in the 1960s – and BMW design a streamlined carbon-fibre suit carrier, part of a broader collection tied in with the car maker’s i8 model. It proved so popular it has now sold out, but the house’s canvas Damier Graphite garment cover (£1,310) offers another elegant rendering of the genre.
If the crisp aesthetics of a Canali suit appeal to you as much as they do Barack Obama, you’ll love the fact that the Italian brand’s padded nappa leather carrier (£990), which hold two suits, can be folded into a holdall. Such innovative approaches are also in evidence at veteran carrier makers – York-based luggage specialist Maxwell Scott Bags has a substantial Rovello six-suit carrier (£775) in full-grain, vegetable-tanned Italian leather with multiple leather-lined compartments to hold travel items for a short trip, and a thick, adjustable shoulder strap with reinforced handle.
Longchamp – the Paris-based brand traditionally associated with women’s bags thanks to the handbags that make up its core business – should usher more Y-chromosome customers through its doors with a sophisticated take on the carrier: Le Foulonné (£485), a single-hanger grained-leather garment bag from a broader luggage line that comes in robust black, cognac or mocha leather with finely worked, contrasting trims. And it’s perhaps not surprising to find that Gieves & Hawkes – the outfitters with the most impressive address in menswear, No 1 Savile Row – now offers customers an alternative to its standard-issue carrier: a two-suit wool-blend design (£795) trimmed in calfskin, with a soft grey flannel lining.
Prada, too, has joined the club, offering a nylon four-hanger carrier (£1,430) with Saffiano leather details – suggesting that this is just the beginning of brands waking up to their suit‑carrying potential.