Is there such a thing as a perfect piece of luggage? Something that is beautiful but not too heavy, that carries easily and efficiently the gadgets and garments the modern traveller needs? That looks elegantly luxe in a certain nonchalant and understated way? In other words, the forever bag, the one many of us are still searching for.
Reinhard Mieck and Melissa Morris have spent the past three years trying to create exactly that – the perfect bag. They call their new company LONB (which stands for Love Or Nothing Baby) and a lot of serious thinking has gone into coming up with a collection of high-quality bags, ranging from totes to bags big enough to take on a three- to five-day holiday. They weren’t aiming for high fashion – they wanted pieces that were beautifully made in fine ateliers in Italy, that were timeless and that would be loved forever.
Certainly on the day I visited its elegant little store in London’s South Audley Street, an American who had been lunching at Harry’s Bar over the road was so excited by what he saw that he not only ordered a briefcase and a larger carry-on with all its portable compartments but he later brought in a friend to show off his fine new acquisitions.
Intrinsic to the carefully considered collection is The Runaway – a brilliantly conceived clutch bag (for women, the men’s version is slightly simplified and described as a portfolio) with a (patent pending) flip lock system that allows it – when unfolded – to be snapped into any one of LONB’s pieces of luggage. This clutch (£7,250) – which has a series of precisely sized pockets to hold a mobile phone, tablet, passport and so on, as well as a compartment for credit cards – can be picked up and used on the run or unfolded and clipped to create a streamlined compartment for key personal belongings.
Every LONB bag can be paired with The Runaway. For women, the biggest seller so far is a tote called the Sergeant, most popular in Marrakech (a camel colour, (£1,680)) suede but also available in calfskin (£1,980), pale-grey ostrich (£6,450) and black or navy crocodile (£22,500). Another tote called Merci La Vie is also popular and comes in two sizes and a variety of materials, but I like the buffalo skin (from £1,580) in splendid dark cherry. Men might like the LONB version of a briefcase (Le Petit Voyage, from £1,850), which is more sophisticated and softer than most, and I particularly love a gorgeous backpack called Rider (£2,480), with classic tan calfskin among the many options, or slightly rock ’n’ roll black suede (£2,050).
Also conjuring a vaguely Easy Rider aesthetic is a day bag (Vagabond, from £1,950) inspired by the slouchy feel of a motorcycle jacket. Two other styles Le Voyage (£2,480) and Le Grand Voyage (from £2,550) are designed with short trips or weekends away in mind, most stylish perhaps in canvas with a black leather strap. The latter has a hidden slip pocket on the outside and two zippered compartments: the first containing three sub-compartments for a laptop, documents, as well as – of course – locks to hold The Runaway; the second is for clothes and designed to pair with those beautifully made canvas packing pouches (from £275) that come in various sizes – one, say, for toiletries, another for underwear, a third for shirts – designed to fit exactly.