The Luxury Luggage Brands That Will Upgrade Your Airport Style
We might not be in the golden era of aviation but that doesn’t stop us travelling in style. Today’s luxury luggage options are as plentiful as they are sophisticated, ready for an aspiring generation of globe-hoppers.
There used to be a time not all that long ago when airline passengers would get dressed up for a transatlantic flight. The fact that they could smoke cigars on the plane, and would be served up lobster thermidor swilled down with chilled champagne, were excuses enough to raise the style bar. Their suitcases, too, tended to be beautifully built, and built to last.
Today’s travellers could probably take a few notes on airborne dress codes, but that’s a separate article altogether. One simple yet very effective way to stand out from the madding airport crowd is by way of your luggage.
In a sea of cheap polycarbonate carcasses on wheels, an outstanding luxury trolley case is like a beacon of sophistication. It says you travel well, discerningly moving from one classy place to another. It also says you’re not short of a few, which seems to be biomarker no.1 in today’s literal human race. But moreover than that, a luxury case or bag shows that you care; that you’re attentive to the small details; that you have an appreciation for design and functionality.
A great case sets you apart from the sprawling mass of poor suitcases out there, which is just the shot of confidence one needs to dampen the anxiety of getting through a modern airport. So with all that said, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite life-affirming luxury luggage brands to elevate the flying experience.
Even before Alexandre Arnault took over Rimowa, after it joined the LVMH stable in 2017, the heritage German luggage maker was still very much considered luxury. Founded in 1898 in Cologne, the label is of course best known for its super-lightweight but extremely rugged aluminium cases, complete with patented multi-wheel system and those distinctive grooves.
They look as if they were built for astronauts, or hitmen, oozing with no-nonsense industrial minimalism. And yes, you’re going to pay for the privilege of wheeling one along, but with a lifetime guarantee, a Rimowa case is more investment than divestment.
While we think the original aluminium cases are unmatched, keep your eyes peeled for the limited-edition collaborations (which tend to sell-out immediately). Recent hook-ups have included Off-White, Supreme, Daniel Arsham and Dior.
It’s easy to forget that the Louis Vuitton brand started life as a luggage maker. Back in 1834, Mr Vuitton was a dab hand at the construction of luxury trunks. As the upper classes began to develop a thirst for travel and exploration, Vuitton came upon the idea of constructing sturdy rectangular cases that could be easily stacked, rather than the rounded style that was available at the time.
You can still pick up these vintage trunks at auction, but we’re more interested in the luggage that Louis Vuitton makes today – namely the rolling cases, all of which were designed in collaboration with award-winning designer Marc Newson.
The pick of the lot is the Horizon collection, which comes in three different sizes, all dutifully emblazoned in the iconic monogram, as well as Damier check styles.
Definitions of ‘luxury’ vary. For some it is the craftsmanship; for others the brand cachet; for others still, the exclusivity. There’s absolutely no denying then that Aviteur is a maker of truly luxurious luggage.
Founded by Patricia Gucci – the first woman to join Gucci’s board of directors, and the daughter of Aldo Gucci – Aviteur’s luggage is all entirely handmade from exquisite fabrics and materials, with no expense spared for the tiniest of details.
The flagship product is the Aviteur Carry-on, which comes in three different treatments of handcut calfskin woven leather. It also features wheel casters forged from aviation-grade aluminium for maximum stability and longevity, as well as a unique translucent Lucite trolley handle.
A blend of tradition and futurism, Aviteur is extremely pricey but exclusivity this well designed always comes at a cost.
Co-founded by Indré Rockefeller and Andy Krantz in 2016, Paravel has put sustainability at the forefront of its immaculate carbon-neutral luggage construction. The company produces luxury Aviator cases made with shells moulded from recycled polycarbonate, handles crafted from recycled aircraft-grade aluminium, and linings woven with fibres sourced from recycled plastic water bottles.
Design-wise, the cases are a treat, available in minimalistic black or four other classy bi-colour options.
For a company that has been producing pocket knives for over 125 years, Swiss brand Victorinox might not have bells and whistles of some of the names on this list, but it sure knows the ins-and-outs of precise construction.
Victorinox’s carry-on cases and hold luggage are the definition of functional, crafted from SORPLAS™, a high-performance recycled polycarbonate by Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, as well as 100% pure virgin polycarbonate. They are the type of cases that will withstand the rigours of frequent flying and then some, giving you ultimate peace of mind wherever you decide to go next.
While the vast majority of today’s cases come in the form of modern tech materials on four wheels, there are still some luxury brands for whom the suitcase (remember those?) retains an enduring appeal.
Steamline Luggage is one such brand, founded in 2005 by Sara Banks and still going strong, producing stunning, nostalgia-rich cases in sumptuous colourways. Timeless and elegant, Steamline’s all-leather designs come in all manner of different sizes and shapes, and come in sets defined by titles such as The Industrialist, the Editor and the Architect, to name a few.
The interiors are beautifully designed, too, with a neat hanging travel kit also included. If you love vintage design, Steamline is a no-brainer.
Founded in New York in 1948, T. Antony has had an illustrious past, creating luggage for many a celebrity. While many brands have shifted towards hardcase shells, T. Anthony has stuck with a rugged 3-ply canvas wheeled case with full-grain leather trim as its poster boy.
Understated from a design point of view, T. Anthony’s soft cases are meticulously built, while its leather cases are something else ($17,000 for an alligator wheelie anyone?).
Beautifully minimalistic and extremely functional, Away has quickly made a name for itself producing functional modern cases for the seasoned stylish traveller.
Functional is the key here, because Away pioneered the ability for one’s luggage to charge one’s devices. Featuring stunning aluminium cases as well as super-durable polycarbonate styles, Away’s spinner designs are excellent options for the business traveller or any parent that understands the necessity of fully charged devices when on the move.
Still a family-run business today, Bric’s (the name comes from the founder, Mario Briccola) has been providing discerning Italians with the finest luggage since 1952. Based near Lake Como, Bric’s aesthetic is pretty classic, with a range of polycarbonate and soft case carry-ons and stowaways featuring nicely finished leather trimmings.
Our favourite styles however come from the anodised aluminium collection, which is actually a collaboration with the American luggage maker Zero Halliburton.
German luggage brand Horizn Studios was one of the first makers to launch a removable battery pack for device charging. So it comes as no surprise that the company has continued to innovate, not least when it comes to sustainability and materials, including waterproof tarpaulin, vegan Hi-Core shell and waterproof ballistic nylon. I
ts latest ground-breaking project is called Circle One, a line of hard shell cases made from BioX, a 100% plant-based and biodegradable material designed to be repaired and never replaced. According to the company, “BioX features a multiaxial and multi-density flax-fibre weave. Flax is Europe’s strongest and most productive renewable fibre – suspended in resin, its tensile strength is three times higher than that of aluminium”. The Circle One collection looks the part too, available in four understated classy tones.
Founded in New Jersey in 1975, Tumi takes its name from a mythical knife of Peru (the founder did a stint in the Peace Corps in the South American nation). The brand has been producing excellent, tech-first bags from day one.
Each new Tumi product undergoes in excess of 30 tests before it is released to the market to ensure that it is more than a match for the rigours of travel. Tumi makes all manner of luggage, from ballistic grade nylon bags to the very swish 19-degree aluminium spinners, which feature anti-microbial linings and exteriors.
They’re some of the finest looking cases on this list and they’re packed with features, too.
Vocier is an award-winning German luxury luggage brand which produces elegant, retro-styled carry-on cases that offer a zero-crease promise thanks to a clever packing system for suits.
Perfect for the business traveller, Vocier’s cases are built from a tough nylon exterior with leather details and come with a lifetime guarantee. Minimalistic in appearance but punching well above their price point.
Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano
Ever since 1946, iconic Italian luggage brand Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano – otherwise known as FPM – has been making some of the world’s finest luggage. Although it started out back then as a leather specialist, the FPM of today is a masterful crafter of aluminium cases, exemplified by its ‘Bank’ collection – all made in Italy and inspired by vintage trunks.
Visually exquisite, the Bank cases have been designed by Marc Sadler and feature a stunning corrugated aluminium shell with contrast leather handle details. But even better than that is the special one-off collaboration with hypercar maker Pagani, which resulted in the Bank Carbon. As the name suggests, the case is further embellished with carbon fibre elements throughout. Nice for a weekend away in the Zonda.
Doing the old-school case makers proud since 1897, British heritage brand Globe-Trotter is recognisable all over the world for its iconic cases – all still handmade in Hertfordshire, England using traditional machinery and artisanal techniques.
We say British, but it was actually founded in Germany, only to move to the UK in 1932. With a clientele list featuring the likes of Queen Elizabeth II (who took the cases on her honeymoon in 1947) and Sir Winston Churchill, it’s easy to see why Globe-Trotter is still so popular today, despite bucking the trend for hi-tech aluminium cases.
Globe-Trotter’s designs are full of character, wearing every trip they go on. Made from vulcanised fibreboard with leather trimmings, these carry-ons are head-turners wherever they go.