Luggage, Minus the Baggage: Andiamo’s Effortless Style
The legacy luggage brand is catering to a new kind of traveler.
In our increasingly connected world of smart technology, social networks, and globalized industry, cultivating a unique self is the ultimate project. We do this through the clothes we wear, the media we consume, the relationships we forge, and, of course, the products we purchase. Heritage luggage brand Andiamo has decades of experience engineering suitcases built to last, but it’s setting a new standard of aesthetics with its latest carry-on collection. The Andiamo Classico, which debuted in early 2018, caters to the digital nomad, someone who craves a suitcase that is as functional as it is photogenic. Offered in three glossy colorways–ruby, sapphire, and onyx–the Classico’s vintage-style frame features two TSA-approved locks, a USB port, adjustable internal dividers, four 360-degree spinner wheels, and an interior RFID pocket to prevent against identity theft. Quiddity spoke to Yi Zhang, Andiamo’s Chief Experience Officer, about engineering for the millennial travel set, leveraging a storied legacy of innovation, and “creating a life you’re proud to live and share.”
Andiamo has been producing luxury luggage since 1970. What is your origin story?
Andiamo was born out of the desire to create luggage that guarantees travelers the highest level of durability and security; plain and simple. After years of introducing innovation to the industry, such as the bomb shell cloth and full cellular memory frame, we realized that the modern consumer is now expecting much more out of luggage than their counterparts 30 years ago. In 2015, we redefined ourselves to make style and fashion a core focus while staying true to our original promise of durability. Even all these years later, loyal customers will reach out to us to say how far their Andiamo Luggage has taken them over the past few decades–we’re talking 600,000 plus miles and multiple continents and still going strong.
You were founded in Southern California. How, if at all, does that culture factor into your brand's legacy?
It’s important for us to stay true to Andiamo’s founding heritage, while still evolving the brand to make it more dynamic, fresh and ultimately relevant for this new generation of travelers. We believe our new collection strikes just the right balance between past and present. With the Classico, you’ll still experience the effortless nature of Andiamo’s early SoCal beginnings–think no-fuss maneuverability, minimalist design, simplified packing structure–but now with an elevated, contemporary twist.
As a heritage brand with nearly 50 years of experience designing luggage, how are you evolving your product to compete with the emerging smart luggage category?
Smart luggage has generated a lot of buzz in recent years, with many new companies vowing to revolutionize the luggage industry with a trove of new technology. It is important, however, to identify which functionalities are actually important to customers and will ultimately deliver a positive user experience.
While building the Classico, we compared and analyzed many of the functionalities available to us and decided to include only the USB port. We felt that this is the one technology feature that is most relevant to the majority of travelers, and we purposely did not include a battery pack because of the recent airline regulations against smart luggage. If our customers want to utilize this function, he or she can buy any marketplace battery pack and it will be compatible with our design.
It all boils down to creating a life you’re proud to live and share with others and that’s exactly what we want to help our customers achieve.
How are today's travelers different than when you first started designing luggage?
Travelers today prioritize not only where they are going, but how to look and feel their best along the way. It’s a shift that has been largely motivated by the rise of digital trendsetters who have made dressing well a necessary form of self-care. As a result, one’s personal style is now woven into every aspect of their life, travel included, intensifying the need for a piece of luggage that not only complements that style, but also enhances it.
So much of our lives are shared online today, making it imperative that everything from what we’re wearing to who we’re following on social media is an accurate representation of who we are and where we want to be. It all boils down to creating a life you’re proud to live and share with others and that’s exactly what we want to help our customers achieve. We want to create luggage they will actually be excited to show off, luggage that’s worthy of standing by their side.
How is your most recent collection, the Andiamo Classico, an evolution of earlier Andiamo models? Which design elements are similar, and which are different?
With this new collection, we strive to go beyond the singular promise of durability to deliver luggage that plays just as big a role in your fashion identity as the clothes you wear or the car you drive. We want our customers to rethink how they view their luggage, seeing it not only as a carrier for their belongings, but as a fashionable statement piece that is essential to their personal style journey. Perhaps the most defining design elements reflecting this objective are our mirror-like high-gloss finish and rich vibrant colors that quite literally dance in the light as travelers move with it. This is the type of luggage that everyone from TSA agents to fellow airport-goers to even taxi drivers will stop you to compliment; we know this because our customers tell us about it all the time.
You re-launched with a relatively pared-back collection (three colors, only carry-on). What was the rationale behind this? Do you have plans to expand the Classico line with more sizes and colors?
We want to usher in a new era for the luggage category, one that’s led entirely by the stylish jetsetters who are transforming the travel landscape one Snap, Tweet and Instagram at a time. We chose to launch with a limited selection of products because we wanted to figure out exactly what style-savvy travelers are missing from their luggage and what they hope to see from us next. It’s a question that often gets answered for consumers, not by them, but we’re committing to changing that.
So, to answer your question, yes, we absolutely have plans to expand the Classico line with larger sizes and colors, but not before gaining enough feedback from those who motivated us to reimagine Andiamo to begin with: our valued customers. We’re in this together and can’t wait to see what we come up with next.
Which social media platforms are most important for your brand? How do you engage with users through social?
Social media is reshaping American spending habits, specifically with photo-driven platforms like Instagram. Travelers rely heavily on this channel and their favorite “influencers” to guide their buying decisions on everything from which hotel to book to what outfit to pack. There’s a unique level of trust that comes with a social media exchange that can’t compete with traditional marketing or advertising efforts. We’ve found that this platform has been the best outlet for us to directly connect and engage with our customers on a more personal level. We respond to every Direct Message (DM) that comes our way and it allows us to learn far more about those interested in our brand than any customer service email or generic survey could ever provide.
We also partner with various online content creators, specifically those focused on fashion and lifestyle interests, and gather feedback from each one to help guide our creative process. There is no such thing as a perfect piece of luggage, but it’s our genuine belief that if we start creating products out of wants and desires voiced by our target customers directly, rather than on assumption, we can get closer to it than any other brand before us.
What’s next for Andiamo?
We’re gearing up for a new website launch in the coming months that will be more customer-centric and share even more of our brand ethos. We will also continue to align with authoritative fashion voices who can help tell our brand story in larger, more meaningful ways, so expect fun brand collaborations to pop up in the near future. And of course–delivering on the most requested ask by all of our customers: more colors and sizes. While we can’t confirm anything just yet, I will say that coral pink has been a resoundingly popular request thus far. Stay tuned for much more; believe me when I say Andiamo is only just getting started.
Frances Thomas is a writer based in New York City. She recently graduated from NYU.