Melissa York talks to Jerome Griffith, CEO of global travel brand Tumi, on how to cater for the modern, tech-obsessed, pet-carrying business traveller
TRAVELLING is a lot more complicated than it used to be. There was a time when a dog-eared passport, a backpack and some sturdy walking boots would be enough to take you anywhere. But rapid technological advancements and increasingly tight security measures means the needs of travellers have changed. On top of that, globalisation and cheaper air travel means more people are flying abroad for work than ever before.
But Tumi, a high-quality luggage and accessories brand, thinks it has a solution for every portable problem you’ll encounter. The company has been granted over 125 patents during its 30 years of experimenting in suitcase design.
“Ever-changing technology and airline restrictions are obstacles our customers are constantly faced with,” says Jerome Griffith, who has been chief executive officer since 2009.
“In light of the fact that some variables are out of our control, Tumi is a brand on the cutting edge of travel product innovation and we aim to create designs which provide stylised solutions for the global citizen, who is always on the move.”
From its inception in 1983, Tumi has been trying to offer something unique. It pioneered the use of highly durable ballistic nylon material for its debut suitcase range, the Alpha Collection. Over 30 improvements were mastered before they released Alpha 2 which boasts 14 patents in one collection. Key upgrades include newly-designed 360 degree wheels, which are recessed into the body of the suitcases, making them more stable and easier to steer.
Its Tegra-Lite collection was born out of consumers’ desire for stronger but lighter cases to conform with airline weight limits.
In 2008, Tumi graduated from a luxury travel case retailer to a lifestyle brand by launching their accessories branch, encompassing a diverse range of products from small leather goods to gifts, from outerwear to eyewear. This evolution has had a rapid success, with 15 per cent of the business now derived from accessories alone. “Travel plays a large part in many people’s lives whether for business or leisure,” Griffith adds. “It’s natural for Tumi to offer more than just travel accessories, but products that will meet one’s demanding daily lifestyle.”
The appointment of George Esquivel as creative director last year has led to a number of new collections designed to appeal to new audiences and extend the brand’s global customer base. These include the Santa Monica collection aimed at a younger audience with its simplistic design and emphasis on portable tech such as laptop padding.
This year is set to be a momentous one for Tumi as it embarks on a number of new ventures. American potter, designer, and author Jonathan Adler has created a number of bold prints and cheeky mottos for its Voyageur and Vapor Summer 2014 collection. Pets have also been subject to the Tumi treatment with Berlin-based pet accessories label Cloud 7 also releasing a collection for the brand in the summer.
Perhaps their biggest adventure is the launch of a flagship store on April 18 at 211 Regent Street, solidifying their presence in one of the most prestigious shopping districts in the world. But Tumi’s adventures are unlikely to stop there, according to Griffith. “We see an opportunity in the challenge to be constantly innovative. Tumi is evolving beyond its travel heritage and into a unique lifestyle brand.”
Anderson slim commuter briefcase, £345
Made from soft-yet-tough nylon material, this stylish briefcase has a dedicated laptop compartment and another section for accessories and files. It also contains an in-built iPad pocket
Alpha 2 Collection, £2,880
Crafted from TUMI’s patented FXT ballistic nylon, a symbol of durability and quality, Alpha 2 styles boast over 30 upgrades and 14 patents for a lighter and more spacious design
Electric grounded adapter, £75
This gadget provides four different plug configurations in one unit for grounded electrical connectivity in up to 150 countries
All available from tumi.com