To: Alexandre Arnault, CEO of Rimowa

Dear Alexandre,

Rimowa is the most recognizable luggage brand on the planet, which makes it an incredibly exciting company to lead. However, it is also a heritage brand, and while it has both decades of legacy and excellence, it must also work to attract a new generation of shoppers as they form their brand allegiances.

In a time when digitally-native competitors are expanding, private labels are taking off and people are traveling more than ever—often as they buy fewer physical things—even a history of triumph is not an indicator of future success for any brand.

I am a Rimowa customer. The Topas Business Multiwheel I bought as a birthday gift to myself for all of my podcast gear hasn’t let me down. Still, when I walked into your Madison avenue store last weekend, it felt like a relic from the last century.

Your most recent Beverly Hills pop-up, with its experience-first strategy, is a big step forward for improving the brand’s retail footprint. But luggage retail has functioned the same for centuries, and you have an opportunity to revolutionize your entire retail fleet, which would secure Rimowa as the unparalleled leader for travel, both online and offline.

Here’s one idea about how to push your retail strategy forward.

Build Rimowa’s stores around a real-life travel simulation.

The Journey is a big—if not the biggest—reason why people travel. Whether pulling your suitcase out of the closet at home and stuffing it with clothes and toiletries, nestling it in the trunk of an Uber, rolling it through a terminal or security, fitting it in an overhead bin, sorting through it in a hotel room, or returning it to storage upon your return, the Journey is a full circle. At numerous points along the Journey, you’re both putting your luggage to the test and showing it off, yet no brand has been able to encapsulate this in its retail experience. You could change that.

What if you could simulate this entire journey—or at least a serious approximation of it—in your retail stores? A shopper could enter your store, choose a suitcase of her liking, and then go through the motions to pack it up at home, put it in the back of a car, shepherd it through security with an actual security belt—not just an approximation of it like your pop-up has—load it on an overhead compartment of a plane, and so forth—all in the confines if your store. Similar to IKEA, where shoppers can walk through potential homes, envisioning how their purchases can look and feel, Rimowa can acquaint customers with a similar all-sensory experience, but at a luxury level.

Drawing courtesy of Steve Giannetti, Giannetti Architects

Creating this in-store journey would provide a number of massive benefits:

  • Most importantly, it gives shoppers a reason to come into your stores, since they can now truly test out what it’s like to travel with Rimowa luggage.
  • It allows shoppers to inhabit the actual environments where they would be using Rimowa products, and then test them in order to assess the quality and lifestyle inherent to the Rimowa brand. With an in-store trial, customers can see why, for example, the wheels of the suitcase were designed a certain way, rather than talking about these benefits in the abstract, which happens at a normal store. It’s about showing rather than telling.
  • It gives the brand an opportunity to educate shoppers on the heritage and learnings of your company over the decades. For example, the aluminum concept on your website is an awesome exploration of the quality and customization of luggage through your customers’ eyes. These stories would manifest themselves beautifully in your stores.

Putting shoppers in touch with your products in the actual environment they will use them has endless possibilities for groundbreaking retail, and the ideas above are only the beginning. But what is clear right now is that Rimowa has an immense amount of potential to become the travel brand of the 21st century, despite its nearly 100-year-long history.  

Let me know if you’d like to hear more.

Richie Siegel
Founder and CEO
Loose Threads