Forty years ago, wheeled luggage – invented by Briggs & Riley – was the newest thing. A couple years ago, checkpoint-friendly luggage was all the rage. It still is, but the emphasis now is on ultra-light, multi-functioning luggage on four-wheel systems and, in many cases, with sleek hardsides built for durability. Not only that, but color, color and more color.
Thousands of travel goods items debuted at the recent Travel Goods Show in Chicago; in fact, some 40,000 products from 2,000 different lines were unveiled by 215 exhibitors representing over 300 brands – and portability and popping colors topped the trends.
The scope of choice in lightweight luggage built for smooth maneuverability continues to expand, with hardsides and four-wheel systems emerging as scene stealers: Antler’s Liquis 4-Wheel Roller Case ($399) sports a virgin polycarbonate A-Plus shell for a slick, tough-stuff persona at a svelte 8.4 lbs; the very smart Sirus Collection (starting at $130), by INTUS, shows off light weight in a flexible and impact-absorbing hardshell – not to mention intuitive technology to eliminate baggage fees; and Delsey’s Helium Breeze 3.0 Carry-On Trolley with EZ Glide 4-Wheel Spinner System ($149.99), a softside with fiberglass frame, is light on the scales but heavy on durability.
In softsides and stars in their own right: Ricardo Beverly Hills’ Expandable WheelAboard carry-on ($240) from its Superlight Sausalito Collection, its sleek 7.1-pound frame atop four-wheel Glide-LiteTM system reflecting the new norm of the 20” case; International Traveller, already known for having the “World’s Lightest Collection” lightens things up even more with the introduction of IT-0-1 2nd Generation 4-Wheel™, now the “world’s lightest spinner” and with retails ranging from$123 to $160; and American Flyer’s McCool E2 [Extreme Exploration™] bags, backpacks and messengers ($70-$450), channeling James Bond in its rugged ready-for-any-adventure-regardless-of-potential-peril aesthetic.
Colors rule; black drools
Like a gust of spring, color burst across luggage and small leather goods collections, mirroring a welcome optimism in the resurgence of travel. Heys USA talks the talk in personifying its “art of modern luggage” motto through its artist collections featuring the striking pop art of Romero Britto and urban-edged flamboyance of Charles Fazzino, veritable explosions of primaries and pastels and in patterns surging with graphics, florals and cityscapes. The four-piece sets, absolute showstoppers in hardshell and atop four-wheel systems, retail for $1,200 (Britto Garden) and $1,060 (Fazzino).
Also flying their color verve: Italian manufacturer Roncato’s UNO Collection ($569-$625), its stunning graphic designs, including Rosso Murales, Nero Rosa and Viola Fiori, capturing the imagination in sleek polycarbonate trolleys and upright cases simply made for bold escapades; Lulu Castagnetteby Murval Paris, lustrous in polycarbonate, its Flamenco set, with 22” spinner, carry-on and beauty case ($269), all sass in a pastel color palette, and Pink Lulu Bear ($289/three-piece set) irresistible inhot pink, orange, red, silver and white; and Olympia, which unleashed the rainbow on its new collections, including Blossom ($399/set), a bouquet of aqua blue, lavender, orange and yellow in polycarbonate on dual spinner wheels.
Special kudos to designer Christina DePonte at 24/7 International for her arresting homage to Oleg Cassini in the Wedding Collections, “Bouquet” ($120-$280) and “Tie the Knot” ($200/set), each a classic expression of the “Camelot” look synonymous with First Lady Jackie Kennedy for whom Cassini designed. Encompassing five pieces, “Bouquet” features woven fabric evocative of lace-accented bridal gowns and accented with patent black trim and silver hardware, an elegant “something new” for brides.
In small leather goods, LODIS rolled out collections of clutches, cross-body bags, wallets and wristlets, at once demurely feminine and boldly dramatic: Audrey ($42-$94) in royal and citron; Celestial ($52-$145) in abstract Italian leather and in patterns suggestive of Impressionistic schemes; and Posey ($38-$84), dazzling in guava, lime and sky florals. BelArno performed a color mash-up with its ladies’ wallets, clutches and cross-body bags ($55-$155), achieving spot-on panache in hot combos of red, brown, purple, green, blue and black.
“The color explosion began about three to four years ago in the U.S.,” says K.U. Chung, sales manager at Belarno. “It is hotter and hotter.”
Color me bold! Many of the products covered above will be given away to Travelin’ Tales readers. Leave a comment about one of the bags above for your chance to win.