Rimowa is not a german company anymore. In 2016 Rimowa is part of the, in Paris based, LVMH group. The group which is famous for its fashion houses; Louis Vuitton, Fendi but also owner of Hennessy and Tag Heuer, has a majority stake in Rimowa.
The acquisition went pretty much without a sound. Only this year (2018) we can see the impact Alexandre Arnault, the new CEO of Rimowa, has on the brand.
This year changes are coming in a fast pace. Changes ranging from branding, different design of the suitcases, models that are being discontinued and a whole new sales distribution which affects retailers world wide.
The visual identity changes started in 2017. To me the most notable change was the removal of the ‘Germany since 1898’ from the logo. Most Rimowa owners feel that a suitcase being engineered and often being made in Germany has added value. The reason why this has been removed is questionable.
Rimowa has a factory in Germany, Canada and The Czech Republic. There might be confusion that if the logo says ‘Germany since 1898’ that people expect the suitcase is made in Germany. This isn’t always the case, since the suitcase can also be manufactured in Canada or The Czech Republic.
Another reason, which is maybe too farfetched, is that the new French owners want to make clear the brand is not a german brand anymore.
The pill-shaped frame and rounded letters of the previous logo have been replaced with an understated design. The colour blue has disappeared in favour of neutral shades – black, white and grey.
Also a new logo has been created inspired by Rimowa’s original from 1898. It features sharpened vertices like the spires of Cologne’s famous cathedral, intertwined with angular curves that mirror the industrial forms of contemporary Rimowa suitcases.
The design changes at Rimowa are always minor subtle changes. The design changes we have seen since LVMH has taken over are also very subtle. Instead of adding functionality they stripped away functionality. The first thing I noticed was the absence of the Add-a-Bag holder. In my opinion the Add-a-Bag holder never had a real purpose. In the days I travelled, and I travelled a lot, I have never seen anyone using it. I can’t imagine using it myself. So leaving that out is not so bad. What was more shocking to me was the absence of the Electronic Tag. A innovative check in system introduced by Rimowa. The last three years Rimowa really tried to make this the new way of checking in. I believe the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) ruling on banning lithium batteries really threw a spanner in the works. Removing the Electronic Tag from the new models is also not a bad decision.
Also interesting is the type of collaborations Rimowa has done since Alexandre Arnault is CEO of the company. One of the most hyped collaborations was the one with skate boarding brand Supreme. Another very popular collaboration was with the relatively new brand Off White. Worth mentioning is that Virgil Abloh, the CEO of Off White, is also the artistic director of the Louis Vuitton men’s wear collection.
Collaborations are not uncommon for Rimowa. Before the takeover by LVMH Rimowa collaborated with many brands like Lufthansa and Porsche. Since the takeover the team ups are more directed towards a younger generation.
The product range narrowed down significantly. In 2017 all the 2 wheel models were discontinued. This year models that have existed for literally for decades are discontinued. I assume they are discontinued because they are not displayed on the Rimowa website anymore. Models like the Pilot, Attaché, Beauty Case, Gourmet, Humidor and Business Trolley, basically everything which is not a trolley, is not on display on the Rimowa website.
Beside discontinuing certain models, the current trolley models are renamed. The renaming of the trolleys makes the product range much more clear. Before it was the 32L, 35L, 45L etc. (L for liter). And then you had the Sport models. In a previous blog I mentioned I couldn’t wrap my head around what Sport now actually means. Luckily they renamed it to Trunk and Trunk Plus, which is much more clear. The 32L, 35L and 45L are now called Cabin and Cabin Plus. Much better. The check in luggages are called Check-In and Check-In Plus.
Another big change is that the Topas is now called Original and the Stealth and Titanium are not separate models anymore. The Original (which was previously Topas) now comes in black (Stealth) and bronze (Titanium). So the models haven’t disappeared they only have a different name and comes in different colors.
Rimowa is cutting out the middle man. According to several retailers Rimowa has ended all contracts with retailers world wide. In the future purchasing Rimowa can only be done through the official Rimowa website and official stores. The rumor is that retailers can reapply for a contract and that Rimowa only renews the contract of retailers with a certain allure. Stores like 24sèvres for example. At the moment there is much uncertainty surrounding the new sales distribution amongst retailers.
Cutting out the retailers sounds very logical. Why share the profit with a retailer when you can sell it directly from your own webshop? On the other hand I wonder if Rimowa can maintain their revenue when they cut out so many selling points. At the moment you have a Rimowa seller in every reasonable city and airport. The Rimowa sellers in larger cities are mostly luggage stores which sell luggage from different brands and Rimowa is one of these brands. The store clerks are often very knowledgable about the brand and have a real added value to the brand Rimowa. The reason why people buy a certain piece of luggage is the experience they get in the store and not necessarily the brand. I wonder if Rimowa won’t loose there customers to other luxury brands which are available in the luggage stores.