PARIS — Rimowa is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its signature aluminum suitcase with a campaign featuring the luggage of personalities ranging from Karl Lagerfeld to Martha Stewart, in the first visible sign of its new strategy since being taken over by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
The campaign, set to launch across social media platforms today, was devised at the initiative of Alexandre Arnault — the son of LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault — who joined the German luggage-maker as joint ceo earlier this year.
The young executive has revamped the Rimowa team, appointing Hector Muelas as chief brand officer in June. Muelas previously worked at Donna Karan International and at Apple, where he led the global brand marketing initiatives for Apple Watch.
The campaign will feature images of the cases set on a white pedestal, shot by German photographer Frank Hülsbömer, alongside quotes from their owners on how travel has “given them character and helped shape their identity,” the brand said. The only exception is Lagerfeld’s case, which the designer shot himself.
“Our suitcases have always been powerful vehicles for storytelling. Aluminum has a lot to do with it because it’s an organic material that evolves together with the traveler. We thought it’d be interesting to share those stories,” Muelas told WWD.
Among the personalities featured are Nigo, Carine Roitfeld, David Fincher, Michael Moore, Fan Bingbing, Frédéric Malle, John Nollet, Virgil Abloh, Lykke Li, Yoon Ahn and Massimo Bottura.
“From the beginning, we knew we wanted to feature people who had a longstanding connection with the brand — authentic Rimowa customers rather than commercial endorsements. Luckily for us, we were honored by the participation of people we truly admire,” Muelas said.
While some of the suitcases appear virtually unscathed — Lagerfeld, Fincher, Stewart and Nigo appear to be particularly careful owners — others are dented or covered in stickers and ribbons.
“The idea was that the portrait of the suitcase becomes the portrait of the owner — the stickers, dents and scratches tell stories, just like a face would. We believe it’s an interesting approach to this type of campaign,” Muelas said.
“From the beginning, our suitcases have had this canvaslike quality that has enabled intentional — and unintentional — personalization. It has become like a second nature to the product, one of its most iconic aspects. So we’ve started to work on new approaches to take that notion to the next level,” he added.
The images will be featured on Rimowa’s web site, alongside a film directed by Dan Tobin Smith following the aluminum material through its production stages at the company headquarters in Cologne, Germany.
It’s all part of a wider shift toward storytelling at the brand, whose last look book took a more classic approach, with models Alessandra Ambrosio and Johannes Huebl featured as a traveling couple.
“We’re one of the few brands that have the privilege of not having to force storytelling upon itself. It’s an intrinsic part of our DNA, and one that we’ll explore in deeper and more multifaceted ways through our communications,” Muelas said.
Rimowa will also step up the pace of its collaborations, though it declined to comment on the image of an Off-White suitcase, which Arnault recently posted on Instagram.
“They’ll be a very important — yet selective — part of our marketing strategy,” Muelas said. “They allow us to create a defined culture for the brand and our audience, while pushing us outside of our comfort zones to experiment with new semantics, product formats or marketing approaches. We have some exciting things coming up in 2018. It’s going to be a fun year.”