Samsonite plans London design centre

Samsonite is establishing its first global design headquarters in London and plans to diversify its product mix and roll out more lifestyle accessory items over the next three years.

Quentin Mackay, Samsonite’s global creative director, will head an 11-strong team and is selecting key designers from Samsonite’s regional European offices to staff it.

The aim is to create Samsonite’s first ‘multinational’ team and form a ‘buzz centre’ for design, says Mackay. Previously, designers worked on projects from their country-specific offices. This new approach marks a concerted effort to integrate and co-ordinate design more fully across Samsonite.

The studio is likely to be located near Heathrow and will also include Samsonite’s global marketing team and ‘top management,’ says Mackay. It is expected to open in February.

Mackay also reveals that Samsonite is considering taking the company into new consumer markets, with plans to launch eyewear, watch and shoe collections. External designers could be appointed to work on the projects, but ‘it is early days and we are just at discussion points at the moment,’ says Mackay.

‘As a travel solutions brand, this development makes sense and fits in with our brand vision going forward. These lines would be very complementary to luggage,’ he adds.

The projects bolster a long-term strategy to relaunch Samsonite as a high-end, luxury travel and accessory business with a more fashion-forward, design-led aesthetic (DW 15 September). The strategy was put into place by new chief executive Marcello Bottoli, formerly of Louis Vuitton.

Samsonite is launching Scope, a five-piece collection designed by Marc Newson, and three new lines: Vintage, Pro-DLX and X-Lite.

Design is becoming increasingly important for luggage companies as overseas competition and a changing travel market puts new demands and expectations on the sector.

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