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First class: The Rimowa experience |

Sunday Lifestyle

First class: The Rimowa experience

Marbbie C. Tagabucba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Faster, better, democratized — such is the state of air travel now. Quicker plane turnarounds and lower costs bring about a smaller, more interconnected world; but this new pace only reveals to us which things truly hold value, and what stands the test of time.

The competitive retail atmosphere didn’t stand a chance — 2015 saw rapid growth for Rimowa. Its president and CEO Dieter Morszeck reports: “We are on-trend. In the first two quarters of this year we increased by one-third worldwide.”

Rimowa has always seized upon technology to uphold and advance its heritage. In August, Dieter announced Rimowa’s revival of an aviation legend, the Junkers F13, the first all-metal commercial plane made of the same material his father, founder Richard Morszeck, utilized for his line of suitcases in 1898 to make them resistant to tropical conditions. The lightweight single-engine six-seater revolutionized air travel, and will be reproduced exactly as it was when it took its inaugural flight back in 1919, save for a few technical modifications to meet air safety standards. Dieter, himself a licensed pilot for 33 years, is overseeing the meticulous reproduction and reveals it is slated for release in May 2016.

This romance with Old World aviation is also evident in the Sports Trunk, released in Manila during Dieter’s visit to Manila last Thursday to celebrate the opening of Rimowa’s Shangri-La East Wing boutique. “The idea is that it’s an aviator duffel bag converted into a hard-side, four-wheeled luggage so it is also like a trunk. This shape makes it easier to pack and unpack. It’s not divided into two shelves so that, when you’ve packed in a hurry, the contents will not spill over when opened,” he describes.

Like the Junkers F13, the Sports Trunk will bear the corrugated aluminum or pure polycarbonate finish that is the identifiable — and widely copied — Rimowa signature. “All the parts are the best parts we can get from the market. We don’t like to outsource our production to another factory in Asia; doing that does not ensure that the finished product is of the best quality. We have our own factories in Germany, Czech Republic, Canada and Brazil. We have 100-percent control of our quality, and our quality level is very high. In addition, it’s a chain: each part is as strong as the whole chain, so each part of the luggage is very important.” He notes the brand’s attention to the quality of each piece of luggage, which is proportionate to the cost: the price of the contemporary luxury of ease. “It’s a little bit more expensive than other mass products but it will hold for a long time.”

In the unlikely event that a part does bend or break, Rimowa has an after-service aspect that is unique to the brand. “There are pieces of luggage that are 40, 50 years old — when something’s happened to it, we can still repair it. Our locks are still available. We don’t tell you it’s too old.”

Here’s a caveat for budding Rimowa owners and collectors to consider: which design suits your needs best and what can you carry in it? Dieter dishes out his travel essentials.

YSTYLE: What luggage do you carry?

DIETER MORSZECK: I travel a lot. The Salsa Air is reasonable for holidays, but right now, it’s a two-week work trip, two days here, three days there — I usually don’t like to unpack my luggage. The Salsa Deluxe 3-Suiter keeps my suits and clothes wrinkle-free. I don’t have to ask for ironing. It’s convenient for business trips.

What’s your carry-on, briefcase or luggage? And what’s inside it?

I use a briefcase. It’s new. I have to test it, experience it, and get ideas to improve it. I like music, and for good music, I use my iPhone. I use an app called Soundwave. An adaptor is important; I have one that’s compatible in Hong Kong, Europe and the US. I also bring my MacBook. I am a fan of high-tech. For all else, I use a small amenity kit provided to first class passengers of Lufthansa.

What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to bring with you but couldn’t fit inside your luggage?

None. I’m very practical, but when there’s an idea, I always like to find a solution first so I have no regrets. It helps me develop something special.

The revival of the Junkers F13 is a fantastic project that started that way. It was the first all-metal commercial aircraft in the world but there was no complete set of drawings in the museums, so we went to Paris and scanned the fuselage. We got 3D pictures of the drawings and then we built it. It’s so much better than the original. I am of the belief we should always try to realize our dreams.



What’s on your travel destination wish list?

There are still many destinations that I haven’t been to and I look forward to visiting in the future. I’d like to go to Rio de Janiero in Brazil. I’ve been to Manila several times but I like coming back because the people are very friendly and warm-hearted.

What’s next for Rimowa?

Beginning of next year, the Rimowa business class line Onyx will come with an electronic tag. I tried it on my last trip to Dubai. It’s currently on a test phase with Lufthansa Airlines. It’s very easy. You can check in your luggage while you’re still home or in your hotel room. The electronic tag works with Bluetooth technology and Kindle display. It looks like a printed tag. No electric energy is needed for displaying information, only for the transfer of data.

At the Frankfurt Airport, I used my electronic boarding pass on my iPhone, and it’s done within seconds. There’s no need to queue up. We tested it in all the barcode scanners of the world and we have a scan rate of 98 percent. Usually, printed tags have a scan rate of, roughly, 80 percent. For the airline, they benefit from the convenience as well. It’s the future of traveling.

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Rimowa is available at Adora, Greenbelt 5. Rimowa boutiques are located at Level 2 of Shangri-La Plaza Mall East Wing, Level 1 of Greenbelt 5, Level 1 of Power Plant Mall, Level 2 of Glorietta 4, and Level 1 of Newport Mall.

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