By  on June 7, 2007

LONDON — Puma is leaping into luxury with Urban Mobility, its first premium range of designer accessories, travel equipment and luggage.

The range was launched last month at Selfridges here, where it will be sold exclusively, and is rolling out globally in July to a variety of high-end department stores and furniture and music outlets.

Urban Mobility is placed at a higher price point than mainstay Puma sportswear, and the brand plans to expand further in this direction. "It's an area of our business with big ambitious growth," said Nina Wolf, head of accessories at Puma.

The 10-piece collection includes shoulder bags, document wallets, bento lunch boxes, suitcases and carryalls. Prices run from 17 pounds, or $37, for a bento box, to 240 pounds, or $476, for a rolling carry-on.

"We wanted to come up with something different, fresh and innovative. The market environment is very competitive," said Wolf, describing the look of the collection as clean, modern and minimal. "We stripped each design down to its essentials."

Many of the luggage pieces feature the line's signature rosewood laminate base panels. The unusual material was inspired, according to Wolf, by the 1956 Charles and Ray Eames chair, which customers identified as in sync with the Puma image, according to the company's research.

Other special features include tri-bonded fabric to make the bags 100 percent waterproof, and water-sensitive monogram marks. "We wanted the branding to be very subtle," added Wolf.

Reinforcing the exclusive image, Puma has marked the launch with an Urban Mobility limited edition bag, made from white nappa leather, with matching accessories. Only 600 will be made and each will carry its own serial number.

Puma has tapped photographer Ryan McGinley, who recently was named Young Photographer of the Year by the International Center of Photography in New York, to make a short video installation to celebrate the occasion. The video was shown at the May 21 launch, and a Puma representative said a second collaboration with McGinley was already in the works.

"This is our first range to enter the lifestyle area," said Wolf. "We're not just targeting department stores, but music and furniture retailers…in addition to airport retailers. Each season will have a different story, tackling a different problem. There's been a lot of sameness in the luggage market for a while, but now people are paying more attention to it. We have a lot of ideas in the pipeline for the concept."

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