UP, UP AND AWAY: Travel brand Away is entering the European market and to mark its arrival, it is hosting a series of pop-ups in key cities such as London, Milan, Berlin, Copenhagen and Paris. It is also introducing a collection in collaboration with local influencers and industry veterans.
As a direct-to-consumer brand that relies heavily on customer feedback to drive its strategy, the move was a natural one following continuous customer requests for the brand to be made available in Europe, according to Jen Rubio, Away’s cofounder, president and creative director and a Warby Parker alumna.
“We take thoughtful leaps based on the data and insights — in this case, the thousands of e-mails, social media posts, and calls to our customer experience team from our community abroad,” she said.
She added that the brand ships across Europe and targets the cities where customers have been the most vocal for its first physical store openings.
To create excitement around the launch and capture the spirit of each city, the company has tapped women who stand out for their style, love of travel and online influence, to collaborate on a new luggage range, dubbed “Perspectives.”
The collaborators included the retailer Alex Eagle from London, Margherita Missoni from Milan, Julia Restoin Roitfeld from Paris, Refinery29 editor Cloudy Zakrocki from Berlin and designer and influencer Pernille Teisbaek from Copenhagen.
Each customized Away bag comes in different colors, depending on the city: There is a bright orange version for Berlin, a chic glossy black luggage set for Paris and a playful pink and yellow color-blocked set for Milan, among others.
Creating stories around their product and communicating them via social media has always been part of Away’s strategy: “When we think about leveraging social media channels, it’s about so much more than buzz. Our goal is to provide context around our products and what you can do with your luggage,” said Rubio, adding that real-life experiences are equally important to the brand despite its digital-first approach.
“We are always using real-life experiences to build buzz, too. Social media is a big part of the strategy, but it’s just one facet of the bigger picture when we think about the broader story we’re aiming to tell.”
Away, which was founded by Rubio and Steph Korey just over two years ago, has quickly gained traction for its accessible price points and experiential approach to retail.
Last year, it secured $20 million in funding to open stores and introduce categories. It has since added travel totes, backpacks and cosmetic cases to its offer and opened stores in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and New York.
“We view our physical stores as much more than a place to sell luggage, but as a place to inspire people to book their next trip. If we can continue to provide an experience that causes people to inherently associate Away with more seamless travel, we’ll solidify customer loyalty for a lifetime of trips to come. This strategy becomes even more important when we’re introducing the brand to new markets,” said Rubio.