As we eagerly await our next trip, the world-leading luggage designer behind brands like Samsonite dishes on all you need to know before buying your new suitcase
Don Wilson has designed luggage for most of the big names in travel – he led the team behind Samsonite’s award-winning soft backpacks and bags, for one. Here’s what he wants you to know before buying your next suitcase, as told to our editor-in-chief Kate Guest:
1. The first question to ask is…
“‘What is it made of?’ It’s now incredibly important to think about sustainability. Look for recyclable, durable hard-shell materials like polypropylene, polycarbonate and even aluminium. For those who prefer, so luggage is now increasingly made from recycled plastic bottles. When I designed the (Samsonite) Neoknit, I wanted to create a collection made almost entirely of recycled and recyclable materials, using as little energy, colour dyes and materials as possible, with little waste.”
2. Quality is everything.
“Mechanisms and manufacture all need to be high quality, with a kind of harmony between the functions (ergonomics, volume, size and weight) and aesthetic. People may be drawn to a flashy first impression, but nobody loves a great-looking case if the wheels fall off. From there, look at the details. Are the touchpoints easy and comfortable to use? And, most importantly, [choose] a trusted brand with dependable after-sales service, in case something eventually goes wrong.”
3. So, what does he use on his travels?
“As for the luggage I use, I have no allegiance to any one brand. For long trips, I take a large Samsonite Cosmolite four-wheel case, and carry a cabin-size North Face Base Camp canvas duffel bag. Inside will be a packable REI Co-op Flash daypack. These three cover almost every eventuality, with a minimum of bulk, weight and stress.”
4. Sustainability will be big.
“Most innovations in the next few years will relate to sustainability, but it might not be physical products. We’ll see luggage brands offering service-oriented products, like rental, delivery and storage options. Materials, science and new manufacturing methods (such as 3D printing) are developing quickly, so hopefully we’ll see customisable products printed with high-strength, lightweight biomaterials.”
This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of Going Places magazine.