When will we travel again? This question is never far from our minds. Our suitcases are gathering dust in the corners of our home and — when was the last time you’ve seen your passport?

Times like these are hard for all, and one would expect, even harder for travel brands. But Tumi, whose core offering ranges from travel bags to everyday essentials, have deftly matched their products with customers’ changing habits with its Spring/Summer 2021 collection.

With a finger on the pulse of the travel industry, we speak to Victor Sanz, creative director of Tumi, on the future of travel, sustainable design, the opening of Tumi’s first virtual store, and where he’s looking forward to going next.

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Victor Sanz is the creative director of Tumi. (Image: Tumi)
Sustainability is a huge part of Tumi’s brand. How are you still pioneering this dialogue and what sustainable goals does the brand have for the future?

Sustainability has always been core to the Tumi brand – it’s woven into the fabric of everything we do. Our planet is an astonishing place and we believe it’s our responsibility to preserve it. Our focus on sustainability starts with design and the inherent DNA of the brand that migrates beyond a singular, seasonal function. Tumi is built to last and built to repair – we design products that don’t need to be replaced and are not disposable. By putting excellence and quality first, we ensure that every Tumi product has lifelong purpose. The Tumi global repair network contributes to this goal by empowering products to be used and carried even longer. If something goes wrong, we’ll fix it. If it breaks, we’ll repair it. This means fewer bags end up in the landfill.

On top of this, we are marrying the idea of technology and innovation with sustainability. You don’t have to choose one over the other. We are developing recycled materials and production processes that adhere to our rigorous testing standards and resulting in products that last. This season we are expanding our sustainability products across a number of collections such as the Merge, Devoe, Alpha Bravo and V4 hardside luggage. Look out specifically for the signature Navy Camo print appearing across a few collections which uses post-industrial recycled materials.

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Tahoe Bozeman Sling in Navy. (Image: Tumi)
As a brand whose core offering are on trunks and traveling bags, has the pandemic affected the company greatly? Has the pandemic changed the brand’s strategies in any way?

While Tumi is known for its strong travel heritage, everyday bags and essentials have been a core part of our range for a long time. We create high performing products to elevate all journeys and life on the move. We design to match the shifting habits of our customers and the way those have been affected by this pandemic is no different. Travel has changed and our customers’ lives are more complex today. People are taking shorter journeys like day trips and weekend getaways. You can see how we are responding to that in our new Alpha Bravo Capsule where all the bags turn into two to suit shifting requirements. This season we also introduced bags with hidden secondary bags for grocery shopping or extra space and some that expand or shrink to match the need or purpose.

Do you think the way people are going to travel will change in the future? What trends are Tumi foreseeing? What products will people need?

Travel will naturally change. In a lot of ways, it already has. This pandemic has had a profound impact on us and we will see effects of this for years to come. People will want to protect themselves more. Airlines and other transportation services will have to respond with restrictions and guidelines to help protect the passengers and make their journeys more enjoyable. I also think people will perceive travel differently. They will treasure their time away for leisure or adventure, and will focus on maximizing their experiences. Likely, we will see people continuing to explore their own countries and cities. People will also be traveling to reconnect with family, friends and their community.

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Tumi Spring/Summer 2021 collection. (Image: Tumi)

In terms of products, at Tumi we are well placed to support the continuous shift in habits. We are designing to simplify life on the move and provide freedom from worry, frustration, and distraction – something we all need more than ever.

You trained in the classical forms of art before moving to industrial design. What would you say your creative approach is?

I always wanted to be a sculptor and have been interested in the arts for as long as I can remember. You can see this in Tumi’s 19 Degree collection where we wanted to create a sculpture that you can go traveling with. The arts still inspire me to this day – I connect with artists, musicians and architects and other creatives from across the world to keep getting inspired.

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19 Degree Aluminum International Carry-On and 19 Degree Aluminum Extended Trip Packing Case in Russet Ombre. (Image: Tumi)

Travel was a huge part of my creative process in the past. Now that I do less of it, I find inspiration in the connection with creative individuals who are pushing the boundaries in their own industries. Besides inspiration, it’s critical that I understand the customer – the person I am designing for. I need to understand their changing lives and habits, how they move and how they are going to use the product. Finally, I need to create that emotional connection between the product and the customer – it has to look great as well as perform for the intended use.

What is good design to you? Do all designs need to serve a purpose?

The most important thing for a designer is to understand for whom they are designing. Design should not be done for design’s sake but to fit a purpose and simplify the lives of people that interact with it. Good design also needs to last – for the sake of the customer and our environment.

Devoe Sloan Sling in Navy Camo. (Image: Tumi)
The Tumi Virtual Store is the first of its kind and functions as more than just an online shop. Did you help conceive the project?

The Tumi Virtual store is a great example of how we are migrating and expanding ways to connect with our community. We strive to be wherever our customer is and with this space, we wanted to create something experiential and innovative in the digital realm. From experiencing products in 3D and placing them in your own environment via augmented reality to fun content and social interaction, this store is a natural evolution for the Tumi brand. The motivation behind it goes back to the essence of Tumi: To move forward, push our own boundaries, and find that new environment for ourselves.

Where would you go once the travel restrictions are lifted?

I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with friends around the world that I have not seen for a long time. Africa has been on my bucket list for a long time so that would be a great place to go and explore. Antarctica is another – not many people go there. But there are many parts of my own country that I still need to discover, too. So many possibilities!

Which Tumi bag will you take with you?

I would take the Alpha Bravo Barracks to Africa, it’s very versatile and it can survive all the terrains that I would love to explore with the two-bags-in-one functionality. It’s the perfect bag to explore with.

Tumi Alpha Bravo Barracks. (Image: Tumi)

This story first appeared on Prestige Hong Kong.

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