- Who is it?
NY-based luggage label Away
- Why do I want it?
Meticulously considered design that will make you a better traveller
- Where can I find it?
Only on the Away site, in their US stores, or at upcoming pop-ups
Who is it? In her role as head of social media at optical brand Warby Parker, Jen Rubio was clocking up over 300,000 air miles a year. On her travels she noticed that, monogrammed-trunkers aside, she couldn’t find a luggage brand that any of her peers loved or would recommend. Setting up with her best friend and then-colleague Steph Korey, Rubio sought to follow their eyewear brand employer’s direct-to-consumer business model, in the hopes that that would enable them to provide a higher quality product at a lower price point. The result is Away – a contemporary suitcase brand with an eye on the finer details that enable a smooth and civilised segue from home to away.
Before design was on the cards, Rubio got up-close and personal with her well-travelled friends. “I started to watch how people pack; listen to them talk about how they travel, dissect their pain points, and design a bag to solve all those problems. Travel can be this amazing and exciting thing but there are so many horrible parts to it too. We were like, ‘What are all the things we can fix?’” A worldwide search of sources ensued in 2015, with Rubio and Korey tracking down the strongest handles, durable but flexible outer material, ingenious compartments and the toughest zippers, all before releasing and selling their first suitcase early last year. With stores popping up across the US, pop-ups in Europe and plans for UK sites in the works, Away is quickly positioning itself as the travel brand you never knew you needed, offering essential luggage, packing solutions and dreamy Insta-inspiration to boot.
Why do I want it? Key to the brand’s success is undoubtedly the perfectionism in the product: a first outing with the case and its in-built, heavy duty USB charging pack will have you aghast at memories of holidays past, eeking out phone battery in order to book an Uber on arrival. A compression chamber – a hard-backed envelope-style pouch that, once strapped down, shrinks the size of packed clothing – doubles-up as a removable underwear/chargers/miscellaneous receptacle that slides into your drawer with ease. A detachable zip-up waterproof tote makes for a pleasing wet swimsuit/dirty laundry pochette. Accompanying literature elucidates on packing protocol, prescribing where to place shoes and other bulky bits vs clothing, and has the soothing specificity of say, your mother, or a personal assistant. Key to the product's longevity though, is it's lifetime warantee: the promise that for the rest of time, Away will repair or replace your case whenever it gets a bit rough around the edges. So once these wheely wonders have worked their way into your travel routine, they really will never leave.
These details make for a successful formula that is applied to cases of every size. “We only have one bag. It’s in a few different sizes, and a bunch of colours, but it’s the same bag every time,” Rubio explains. We’re sat in the courtyard of the Amastan hotel, Paris, the location of their latest pop-up collaboration, where they offer manicures, story time, sheet masks, meditation classes and a bespoke sweet selection to each of their beleaguered fashion week guests. This choreographed mini-break encapsulates the brand ethos: attention to detail born of a thoughtful consideration for fellow travellers. The Away stores follow suit, with the actual luggage taking up very little shop-floor space and instead making way for the important stuff: optimum cafe space for shoppers to sit and peruse travel magazines and guide books, a bevy of beauty miniatures, packing blocks that fit Tetris-like into cases, cashmere socks, eye-masks and calming essential oils. When she spotted numerous Away cases on an airport carousel, looking identical in their understated navy and beige incarnations, each with a coloured ribbon tied around their handles, Rubio created leather initial stickers for ease of identification. Rubio is always carefully editing: even the brand’s own success is a travel problem that can be solved.
Where can I find it? Online and only at their stores in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin but watch out for UK pop-ups next year.