Away luggage: recharge your phone, compress your dirty laundry

- A New York City startup is chipping away at the $32 billion global luggage market, creating suitcases at a fraction of the price of some of the bigger brands.

And it all started with a broken suitcase. Jen Rubio loved traveling. A few years ago, she found herself at the airport with a broken bag. She started polling her friends for the perfect replacement and was shocked that there was no consensus.

So she called her Warby Parker co-worker Steph Korey. Rubio and Korey started working at the billion-dollar eyewear startup on the very same day, when Warby Parker had just 15 employees. They quickly became close friends.

When Jen called with her suitcase situation, the two started searching for better luggage options. They realized that there were two: cheap junk that looked like it would break or high-quality products that were so expensive, some nearly $1,000, that they'd cost more than the trip they were going on.

Fast forward to October 2016: their brand, Away, may have the answer. Their four pieces of luggage -- The Carry On, The Bigger Carry On, The Medium, and The Large -- are all under $300 each.

Korey says they talked to college students, CEOs, consultants and artists to understand how everyone travels. They took those insights and built them into their product design.

The bag needed to have great wheels, be durable, and be lightweight. The Carry On is only 7 pounds. The Large bag, which is massive, weighs less than 10 pounds.

Above all, their suitcases had to have room for a whole lot of stuff. Thanks to a laundry/compression system, they do. Flip over a compression pad in the suitcase, pack all of your clothes, buckle the pad, and everything stays in place. Your clothes don't move around and they don't get wrinkled, and you can pack a lot in there.

The luggage also has a built-in laundry bag, which is part of a patent-pending system, so you can compress your dirty clothes and your clean clothes on the same side. Pull the laundry bag out when you unpack. 

Away wasn't looking to be the next piece of smart luggage. In fact, they like to say they don't make smart luggage, they make thoughtful luggage that is really based on what their customers want.

The one atypical smart feature they included is the ability to charge your phone. That thoughtful design is drawing a lot of attention and cash.

On the launch day last November, Vogue called Away "the perfect carry on."

Rubio and Korey have brought in over $11 million in funding from some of the top venture firms. Even Jay Z and Nas are investors.

Away opened its first permanent store in New York City on October 21. Despite of the rain that day, the company's future is looking pretty bright. Korey says they're on pace to sell $10 million in suitcases this year, the first full year in business.

If you're still not convinced that Away luggage is the real deal, the brand offers a lifetime warranty and a 100-day trial period.

Once the bag is charged, it can charge your smartphone 5 times.

They carry-ons fit into overhead bins.

Kory and Rubio say they know how your luggage is handled at the airport, so they dropped their pieces out of third-story windows to make sure they would survive wear and tear, and they did.

www.awaytravel.com

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