From flying on budget airlines to scouring community-listed accommodation rental sites for the right haven, the way we travel has changed dramatically over the last decade. Yet, the luggage that we travel with has stayed relatively stagnant. Shaking up the staid luggage industry is Away, a three-month-old start-up based in New York. Helmed by co-founders Jennifer Rubio and Steph Korey – who met while working at the innovative eyewear company, Warby Parker – Away is hell-bent on revolutionising the kind of baggage we carry with us on our journeys.
‘Away came from a personal need. As avid travellers, we were constantly noticing that the care and effort people put into all aspects of travel – the journey, their accommodation, what they pack – often stopped short of their luggage,’ explains Rubio. ‘We saw a gap in the market for luggage that’s beautiful, functional, and affordable – and on a higher level, for a travel brand that speaks to and understands the way people actually travel today.’ The company’s first product – a streamlined carry-on suitcase – reinforces her point. Made from a super lightweight polycarbonate hard shell and teamed with near-silent Japanese Hinomoto spinner wheels that whizz around 360 degrees, the ‘Carry-On’ cuts an elegant shape.
Proportioned to the maximum size allowed by all major airlines, the suitcase boasts a silk interior lining, removable laundry bag and a compression divider to ensure that its contents can be organized easily. A TSA-approved integrated lock and an attached black leather luggage tag ensures that even such details are in step with the case’s overall look. Best of all, the suitcase itself features a built-in 10,000 mAh battery that can be plugged in to charge smartphones, tablets and other devices via a handy USB jack that is neatly covered when not in use.
‘We take an experience-driven approach to everything and spent months talking to hundreds of travellers,’ says Korey. ‘The Carry-On is made of the highest-quality polycarbonate on the market; its durability and lightness is unrivalled. We selected the Rolls-Royce of luggage wheels. All of the zippers are YKK, and we designed the interior for practicality. Everyone’s favourite feature is definitely the built-in battery – it can charge your phone up to five times!’ All this is made better by the fact that the cases are legitimately well designed. Kapono Chung, one of the brand’s creative directors, says, ‘Away is a visual embodiment of the things we love about travel: arrival, community, discovery and an underlying emotional connection to places. We have a bold and eclectic spirit, but we embody it in a clean and modern way.’ Peter Karras, also creative director, adds, ‘There are subtle nods to the physical aspects of travel, like a hint of a boarding pass, a reference to terrazzo floors, colours evocative of flags, and typography reminiscent of old hotels and train stations. There are a lot of layers of colours, texture and type.’
‘Our mission is to make travel as seamless and joyful as possible,’ Korey reiterates, ‘so we’ll continue to offer products where existing options aren’t as simple, beautiful, and functional as they can be. We’ll be offering two sizes of checked bags that will become available this spring.’