For the past 25 years, my suitcase philosophy has been simple: grab anything with functional zippers and no discernible tears from my parents’ third-floor luggage closet, a weirdly cavernous space that my brother and I used to make forts in as kids, hiding between wheelie Atlantic carry-ons and piles of summer-camp duffel bags.
The most “fashion” has ever come into the equation is the addition of a red leopard-print luggage tag I picked up as an intern at Marc by Marc Jacobs (RIP), and tech? LOL, yeah right. But one of the funny things about growing up is that practical purchases suddenly become legitimately exciting; one of the running jokes in our office is that the true mark of adulthood is owning a Dyson vacuum.
Lately, a great suitcase has started to seem just as covetable as the latest It-handbag—Gucci’s custom Dionysus bag notwithstanding—largely thanks to a handful of new luggage brands reinvigorating the relatively staid industry with fresh design and modern tech capabilities.
After all, it’s 2016: How are we still trying to balance our suitcase on our bathroom scale to find out if it’s overweight? And let’s be real: Aesthetics are a lot more important when you’re Instagramming photos of yourself at the airport or Snapping a tour of your hotel room.
Ahead, get to know three new brands that are aiming to make travel more stylish and less stressful—finally.
Equal parts form and function, these hard-shell beauts come in two sizes (check and carry) and boast more useful techy features than any wearable we've come across. Paired with the Raden app, the suitcases offer Bluetooth-enabled locating (no more roaming baggage claim looking for lost luggage), weight sensors, and a stand-alone battery pack that can charge a phone up to four times.
The A22 Carry-On, $295; at Raden, and A28 Check, $395; at Raden
The A50 Set, $595; at Raden
Founded in 2015 by Warby Parker alums Steph Korey and Jen Rubio, this direct-to-consumer luggage brand boasts affordable prices and top-quality design. The three suitcases (carry-on, medium, and large) come in four classic colors (black, blue, green, and sand) crafted from super-strong polycarbonate, so you don't have to worry about them getting banged up along the way. A patent-pending compression system is a godsend for anyone who needs to bring five pairs of jeans for a four-day trip, and the carry-on also offers two USB charging ports, meaning you won't have to scramble for an outlet the minute you get off a plane.
The Carry-On, $225; at Away
The Carry-On and Large, $475 for the set; at Away
For the true tech-conscious traveler, this Indiegogo-funded startup has launched a super-smart carry-on with GPS tracking capabilities, USB ports in the both the front pocket and back of the suitcase, a battery that can charge a phone up to six times (Snapchat away!), and an app that lets you control the lock remotely. And while the original version is a tad less sleek than its counterparts, the brand just launched the Black Edition, a more sophisticated monochrome style.