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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rimowa : A Case in History, A Journey of Evolution

When one thinks of quality and durability, I can't think of a more suited one than German luggage brand, Rimowa. And just how long has the brand been around? Almost 75 years of change in the Rimowa suitcases, since its first incarnation in airplane aluminium, to its lightweight polycarbonate form today. Customers and Rimowa fans were in for a special treat as never-before seen collection of vintage suitcases were flown in specially for this heritage exhibition.

Hosted by the every charming and charismatic (and hot) Oli Pettigrew, he take us all on a walk down memory lane as we trace back the brand's humble but inspirational beginnings. Not many people know this, but here's a little interesting fact about its name: RIMOWA is derived from its founder's name : Richard Morszeck Warenzeichen. Its iconic grooved luggage pays homage to its founders connection with the aviation industry, as do its similarly grooved store front.

In the 1930s, these vintage, rustic looking cases brings to mind the love story of Jack and Rose onboard the tragic voyage of Titanic. The initial designs are aluminium made, featuring 3 closures and reinforcement lines running along the length of the top and on all corners.

The cabin trunks of those days were the equivalent of present day's carry-on luggage, and was configured to fit under the berth onboard a train or steam-ship. For a more daily use, the woven fabric suitcase with leather trimming was a masterpiece that was hand-crafted during the Golden Week of Aviation, just before the World War II. 

The 1940s still sees the luggage in a more fortified version, using an aluminum alloy containing magnesium. Named Duraluminium, it is a copyrighted patented material. It looks similar to the 1930's version piece but a more simplified one. 

I'm sure this kind of brings back memories of those mafia films of Al Capone days, guns ablazing and packing precious cargo inside the suitcase. Much less Capone, it was the favoured choice of the international jet-setting tribe. This was when its signature grooved looks surfaces, inspired by the JU S2 plane.

A JU 52 aircraft. Pic credits to Airplane Pictures.

The Swinging 60's, as its  called aptly, shows a 'swing' in the aesthetic design of Rimowa cases as well. I am drawn to this era, know for its colourful bohemian lifestyle.Textile and plywood wardrobe trunk paid slight homage to the 1930s, but given an upgrade in size and structure. Designed for extended train/ steamship travel, but was rather large and bulky for moving.

I had a double take when we came to the 1970s set, I could have sworn that I saw my Dad carry this piece before! It uses vulcanized fibre and nylon, Rimowa's experimental creation that veers into a more colorful and lightweight direction. Vulcanisation means to convert rubber or related polymers into more durable materials, making it less sticky and have superior mechanical properties.

Apart from its best-selling luggages, Rimowa also has a capsule series of storage cases for their customers' various lifestyle needs. From protecting that precious guitar to storing that prized wine set, Rimowa has got it covered.

Guests had a chance to take home a piece of Rimowa with them. Local artist ANTZ from the collective RSCLS, was onsite customizing attendees' names on leather luggage tags. I absolutely swooned when I saw mine, definitely a very special keepsake for me.


Thank you Rimowa Singapore for the invitation, and letting us into a part of your story.

Don't miss the chance to catch a glimpse of these historical Rimowa before they are sent back to Germany for good. The exhibition has been extended till April due to good response, so do pop by while you can!

Rimowa's flagship store is located at Mandarin Gallery, #01-02.

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