Eighty years ago, Rimowa’s aluminum suitcase revolutionized luggage as we know it. This week, the brand is celebrating by taking a look back.
While the German luggage manufacturer's roots date back to the 1800s, it didn’t gain a foothold in the industry until the 1930s — and suitcase production using lightweight, weather-resistant aluminum was a huge component of that success. Now, the brand is known for its stylish hardside suitcases with their distinguishing parallel grooves.
The aluminum case has not only stood the test of time, but it's gone on to become Rimowa's quintessential product. And though it's been refined over the years to keep up with the demands of the modern traveler, the core concept has remained unchanged — the retro-style "Classic Flight" collection is still available for those who prefer a more nostalgic look.
This year, the brand launched a new generation of the grooved "Topas" collection. In the video above, you can watch as one is assembled from 205 individual parts in Rimowa's Cologne factory. The whole process takes exactly 117 minutes and includes more than 90 meticulous processes by machine and by hand.
It's this attention to detail that has earned Rimowa a reputation as one of the best luggage brands on the market. They're a favorite among stylish frequent fliers and celebrities like Olivia Palermo and can be found at numerous major retailers — from Barneys to Bloomingdale's to Nordstrom.
The brand can count Travel + Leisure editors amongst its fans, too. Editor in Chief Nathan Lump loves his leather-trimmed "Bossa Nova Cabin Multiwheel." And the brand’s "Salsa Air Multiwheel" made our list of the best luggage in this year’s Ultimate Travel Essentials for how lightweight (four pounds!) yet durable it is.
In commemoration of the aluminum anniversary, Rimowa has also compiled a retrospective of personal journeys from 29 influential individuals with photos of the suitcases they've carried. You'll see chef Massimo Bottura's sticker-covered "Classic Flight," the spinner entrepreneur Martha Stewart wheels along on trips with her grandchildren, and designer Karl Lagerfeld's iconic handheld case, which he photographed himself for the project.