Rimowa and Louis Vuitton: the suitcase as statement

Dirk Ziems

The economy is booming but the political situation is found insecure and unstable – this tension is currently reflected in the motives for using suitcases and bags: they convey the stability of successful, classy appearances. Brands like Rimowa and Louis Vuitton are thus all the rage.

The economy is booming but the political situation is found insecure and unstable – this tension is currently reflected in the motives for using suitcases and bags. From a psychological perspective it thus seems almost logical that the luxury goods manufacturer LVMH is going to take over an 80% share of the noble suitcase producer Rimowa for 640 million euros. Whoever visits the website of the traditional German company is emotionally taken back to a nostalgic age of the jet set, when flying was still a distinguishing feature and the check-in did not involve a routine search for bombs. On the website of Louis Vuitton there is talk of the company’s founders having turned suitcases into “veritable treasure chests”.

The insecure feeling of consumers, apparent for example in the refugee crisis and political propaganda triggered by it, has led to established and value-oriented styles of consumption gaining the upper hand – the aluminium suitcases from the German manufacturer, inspired by the ribbed metal skin of old Junkers planes, standing for this like no other product in the segment of travel accessories.

The consumer refocuses on quality, on solid and protective materials, and is responsive to signals of premiumness. This is even more true when they go on their travels and leave their accustomed, familiar environment. At such moments high-class luggage has the function of giving its carrier the feeling of being prepared for unknown trials and tribulations. Moreover, the high-quality suitcase informs that its owner is still able to afford “true values” and surround themselves with valuable things in everyday life. The suitcase as status symbol denotes a man or a woman of the world who may still be interested in changing fashions but does not let themselves be seduced so rapidly and arbitrarily anymore. Modern offers of transformation tend to be viewed with caution.

High-end luggage still characterises stages of personal advancement or maturity. For the first day at school, on completion of school, at the end of training or university, on promotion or for a wedding people like to give bags which document and accentuate the actual or at least aspired-to new status. From this point of view Rimowa fits perfectly into the portfolio of LVMH whose trademark is the Louis-Vuitton bag. Someone who travels with these classy receptacles wants to show that they are playing in a league of their own and stand out from the crowd. Staying with the image of the air traveller from Rimowa advertising, this is an attempt to retain the jet-set attitude in harsh Ryanair reality.

Therefore, less concern is shown for the possible envy of others but certainly for the occasion. The spectrum of appearances for which the bags are needed is now restricted to a few core occasions (going out, shopping, culture, business). Bag carriers have clearly reduced the frequency with which they used to switch between different styles to create a coherent overall appearance. They believe they know their personal style and use this to guide their choice of bags. The free play with colours, shapes, brands and material is limited more or less by the line of fashion someone has settled on.

High-end bags should match the overall outfit and should contribute equally to the success of public appearances and to increasing the feeling of self-worth. This principle is embodied by both the suitcases from Rimowa and the bags from Louis Vuitton.

More information on the topic can be obtained on request from: rochus.winkler@test.local



Dirk Ziems
Dirk Ziems ist Experte für tiefenpsychologisches Marketing und berät auf Basis von Markt-, Medien- und Kulturforschung weltweit Unternehmen und Konzerne in zahlreichen Branchen und Ländern. Als Mitbegründer der Global Research Boutique Concept M und der Marketingberatung Flying Elephant begleitet er Themen wie die Adaption von Erfolgsprodukten in neuen kulturellen Kontexten, das tiefe Verständnis neuer Konsumgenerationen in China und USA, die Transformation der Werbekommunikation in der neuen digitalen Medienwelt oder die Neuorientierung der Brands in Post-Corona-Zeiten. Dirk Ziems ist auch als Gastdozent an verschiedenen Universitäten tätig.

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