If there’s a perfect suitcase out there somewhere, I haven’t found it yet. Of those that I’ve trundled around the world with on my travels, almost all have had their virtues and vices, but I’m still looking for that one true partnership that will last for decades – and happily there are a few new arrivals on the scene to consider.
Tumi, a much-revered label that does its damnedest to make suitcases as light and strong as possible, has just opened a big flagship store at 211 Regent Street, and is launching several new ranges to celebrate. It likes to recruit specialist designers who are already fans of the brand. So when CEO Jerome Griffith spotted potter, artist and designer Jonathan Adler at Heathrow carrying a Tumi suitcase, he decided to ask him to collaborate on a new range. The result is a bright and breezy collection in cheerful colours intended, according to Adler, to add “irreverent luxury and glamour” to the rigours of modern travel. Carry-on cases (£495) and a suitcase (82.5cm x 52cm x 32cm; £645) bear that age-old plaintive cry of a child from the back of the car, “Are we there yet?”, while a travel duffel (£95) says quite simply, “This is mine”.
Tumi’s creative director George Esquivel has gone quietly classy with his Santa Monica collection, which features sumptuous soft-as-butter leather bags and holdalls that, unlike Tumi’s other more technologically advanced ranges, celebrate artisanal leather skills. The nine different styles (Whitfield Helmet bag, £695, first picture right) come in beige, grey, caramel, brown and soft coral.
Meanwhile, Milan-based, Euro-chic Bric’s five-piece Luxe Africa collection echoes fashion’s current love affair with that continent. Its three Spinner suitcases (from £1,125), stylish overnighter (£675, first picture top) and two‑tiered vanity case (£595) come in high-grade Italian leather with a crocodile-skin print and two new colours for spring: dark brown and scarlet, available exclusively at Harrods.
Then there are the beautiful lizard-embossed-calf-leather bags in Moncrief’s small Urbanite collection, launching this month. The label was started by Caroline Evans in 2012 and every piece is handmade using the finest hides. Look out for the Travel Case (£4,850), with two compartments for clothes, as well as a zipped compartment for a laptop and travel documents, and the smaller Lady Urbanite vanity case (£4,550, second picture), big enough to hold an iPad or a 17in laptop. It comes with a magnetised detachable wallet, a make-up bag, a horn key ring and a fine set of Japanese make-up brushes.
Finally, there’s Hedi Slimane’s Toile Monogram Travel, the first complete luggage range that he’s designed for Saint Laurent. The 30 or so pieces, which include a trolley case (£2,220, first picture left), a soft-sided suitcase (£1,440) and a duffle bag (£1,090), are made in Italy using cotton-canvas that’s been coated to give it sheen and strength and has a repeated print of the original Cassandre YSL logo.