We have been longstanding Rimowa customers. Sure, the suitcases get dented, and we’ve had airlines repair them on more than a few occasions. They even run the risk of being confused with others’ bags, as there are often a few on every airport carousel. But these beauties are classics that stood for an aestheticism we don’t often see in the luggage department. I also haven’t had a single bottle of wine break from one of my overstuffed Rimowas coming back from Italy. This is a sharp contrast to my student days, when I more than once had a nasty surprise of broken glass and ruined clothing waiting for me inside my structured canvas luggage.
We loved that Rimowas came in every shape and size. It was hard to choose. In a way, Rimowa understood my purse addiction by extending it to the luggage department. Sure, the family lines seemed disjointed, but the old Rimowa website felt more like an overgrown family business — quaint and full of a tradition built on quality.
So when LVMH announced its Rimowa takeover, we were sceptical. LVMH does many things well — like their Cheval Blanc Resorts, for instance, which offer a whole new level of luxury for the few lucky enough to afford it. And they own some of my all-time favourite fashion houses — Céline (RIP), Loewe, and Loro Piana, to name a few.
Our scepticism turned out to be right. LVMH recently cut most family lines, renamed their remaining suitcases, and introduced a sharp price increase without any innovation whatsoever. We rushed to the nearest Selfridges to buy some of the last discontinued giants, which has already served us well on multiple trips.
A price increase without commensurate quality increase, while reducing consumer choice? A stark reminder of the market concentration and lack of competition at the high-end of luggage goods. Time for disruption?