Crash Landing: Tumi Unveils Graffiti Collection

The art of graffiti pioneer John “Crash” Matos is making its way onto a luggage line.

The Tumi Tag Limited Edition Collection.

The urban art of graffiti pioneer John “Crash” Matos is making its way onto a luggage line from Tumi, The Tumi Tag Limited Edition Collection, which will be launched in March 2011. The South Bronx native’s graphic artwork will appear on a one-of-a-kind iPhone case and four new styles from the company’s Vapor line of hard-travel cases. An edition of 1,000 numbered pieces will be produced of each, retailing from $445 to $595 at Tumi and select department stores nationwide. The idea for the collaboration came about in 2008, when Tumi’s head of international sales, Eric Gusman, attended the TAG art exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris.

This story first appeared in the November 3, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Tumi values the creativity of artists and designers,” said chief executive officer Jerome Griffith. “This is just one example where we are partnering with creative people from outside the company, and we look forward to continuing to showcase diverse and international designers and artists.”

Original designs that will appear on the luggage were in part inspired by the imagery of a woman’s eye, which can be seen throughout the collection. “They speak volumes…you can see joy, sadness, anger…and they also give the impression of Pop Art, but with the flair for now,” Matos said. “This collaboration really interested me, in that it allowed my artwork to truly travel around the world, reaching new and different audiences.”

Matos began his career at 13 by tagging subways and buildings before taking his art to canvas in 1978 and presenting his first show three years later. Today his works appear around the world, including at MoMA in New York and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

While Matos has lent his designs to guitars for Eric Clapton and Fender, among others, he is open to working on other collaborations in the future, especially when the visions of two disciplines coincide, as they did with Tumi. When Tumi was asked about future projects, they hinted they would introduce several very soon, but could not confirm who the designers would be.