How to Buy Luxury: Globetrotter

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No one makes nice luggage anymore. Suitcases are usually plastic, bulbous and age badly. They’re black, or possibly silver. There is little possibility for using something you particularly like, or you can get the remotest joy in using.

If it’s a weekend bag you’re after, there’s plenty of choice. Mulberry is always a staple – I recommend their scotch grain range. Bown makes beautiful bags – particularly the overnight cabin bag. In fact, almost anyone that makes lovely leather items can do you a good weekend bag.

But there’s nothing like the same range in suitcases. Even Mulberry’s cases look like they have little to do with the soft, malleable leather of the smaller bags. They are awkward, largely made of a woven fabric with leather detailing. The recently launched Samsonite Black Label range is similar – despite high design, their best feature is a lime-green lining. Little on the outside really appeals.

The problem is leather. It is too heavy for a suitcase, but no one quite knows what an attractive alternative would be. Louis Vuitton suitcases are made with canvas. This is lighter but still not so light you could carry it around for any length of time. They were designed, after all, for the age when porters carried your cases for you everywhere. (Plus a decent size will cost £3,000 and everyone will think it’s fake anyway.)

Fortunately, I recently stumbled across Globetrotter. Its suitcases are made with vulcanized board – essentially compressed paper with a protective coating. They are therefore light, while been famously strong: a famous old stunt featured an elephant from London Zoo balancing on top of one.

What’s more, Globetrotter fulfils all my criteria for buying luxury. It is built for longevity. It is something I will use often (I probably travel on business an average of eight times a year). And it has a history behind it: it was founded in 1897; Queen Elizabeth took it on honeymoon; it was used in the first ascent of Everest; and Churchill carried a Globetrotter briefcase.

It also seems to have wasted little money on advertising. The website is slick (globe-trotterltd.com), but few people have heard of it. The store, just off Bond Street, is nice but small and personal. So you can rest assured that your purchase is not funding a huge branding exercise.

Like any luxury item of worth, the company has an easy system for quickly repairing and refurbishing. They are happy if you only ever buy one.

On the more frivolous side, they also come in a fantastic array of colours, from orange with brown leather to blue with white, from red with tan to cream with yellow.

The Original range offers the best value for money, with a decently sized suitcase starting at £350. For more leather straps and leather corners (Centenary) you pay disproportionately more, as you do for the Safari range, which just offers another two colours. If you do take a liking to the leather straps, I recommend buying one or two separately. They cost £25 each, which is a lot less than the step up to Centenary.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.

Comments

  1. Payal says:

    I absolutely love the items suggested!

    Also Check mens color trends for Spring Summer 2008 at http://blog.istorez.com/?cat=74
    Please leave your feedback,

  2. Alex says:

    There is a great company in Paris that makes luggage and bags. I forget the name. It is Girbaud I believe. Something like that. I’m on a plane and I don’t have my information correct, sorry mates. However, this is the best luggage in the world.

  3. Nicola Linza says:

    Simon,
    What a great subject. I, of course, knew of Globe-Trotter, yet not being in need of new luggage, I certainly was not aware of their absolutely incredible site. What a piece of web design. I like it very much. The best I’ve encountered in a very long time. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
    Regards,
    Nicola

  4. Alex: Are you referring to Goyard? I think you might be. It’s certainly one of the most venerable luggage manufacturers. It’s not as ubiquitous as Louis Vuitton which, to me, has all but lost the image of ‘exclusivity.’

    Simon: Great article! I do love Globe Trotter luggage. It is of excellent design and detail (some of the cases have beautiful silk linings) and it will last years. And the best thing about it is, unlike the wretched Samsonites, it doesn’t matter if it starts to looked ‘used.’ Quite the opposite in fact. I think you raised an important point that Globe Trotter have avoided publicity; it’s almost bizarre that you have to ‘discover’ the treats in store (I think a few models are available in Harrods and Selfridges too). You provide some very useful information in relation to strapping and prices too!

    When I visited the Burlington Arcade to do a little research last year for this http://www.mensflair.com/shopping-guide/luggage-for-men.php, I wasn’t aware myself of another luggage maker, very similar to Globe Trotter. A Swedish manufacturer called Alstermo Bruk, http://www.alstermobruk.com/, sells AMO fiber cases and is, as they say, ‘a light, durable material that ages gracefully – perfect for travel cases!’ They aren’t knock-offs either; Bruk has been making luggage since 1804 and there is a very charming embossed Alstermo Bruk logo – the shield with the winged horse. I have not yet seen them in the flesh, although I am reliably informed that they look very well made – as well made as Globe Trotter. There are a number of sizes and colours from very large and black styles (http://193.15.55.242/alstermo2/uploads/images/produkter/StorVaska.jpg) to briefcase sizes of bright colour and contrasting details (http://193.15.55.242/alstermo2/uploads///images/produkter/detaljer/svart_lader.jpg) I particularly found the black case with brown leather detail appealing (http://193.15.55.242/alstermo2/uploads///images/produkter/detaljer/Det_01.jpg).

    Winston

  5. Nicola Linza says:

    Thanks, Winston for bringing Bruk to our attention. I did not know of them. I find the black case you mention the most appealing as well. I think that Bruk is a bit more fashion forward and I think a bit more on the youthful end? Am I wrong? In very good taste, certainly so. I think if I were to purchase a piece I’d lean toward Globe-Trotter, as I prefer their look a bit more for long term use. I might mention, while on the subject of case goods, when it comes to other pieces, leather or case goods, I like the work of John Lobb, especially for briefcase work. They have a new site, I encourage everyone to view http://www.johnlobb.com I don’t see my brief there. As I inherited it, and being custom made, it most likely wasn’t in the natural run of their seasonal work. It is in natural color leather with a red interior and brass hardware, quite stunning I might say in a very conservative manner. I have another style brief by Mark Cross from when they had their shop in Beverly Hills, that is in brown suede with brown leather trim, and a natural kid leather interior, with brass hardware that is really an example of extraordinary work. Alas they are no more, sad state of affairs. I might take pictures of both. If time allows. I’ll make a note to do so, it would illustrate the issue more clearly. In the meanwhile, and forgive me for going a bit off the non-leather case goods topic, any other obscure firms out there?
    Nicola