Until very recently, no staff member at luggage start-up Away was over the age of 30. Pretty good for a company that was founded in November 2015 and whose sales have already topped $12 million.
In the case of Away, being young is an asset—it’s what caused former Warby Parker executives Stephanie Korey and Jen Rubio to look at the luggage market, notice a gaping hole, and fill it with a product geared for their generation; it’s what helped a clear brand message gain traction with over 64,000 Instagram users and counting; it’s what made the New York brand an it-story for every publication from Business Insider and Forbes to Vogue and W. “The best reaction is when you describe the product to someone and they are genuinely excited about the different features,” says Away’s head of global marketing and operations Emma Bates, over the phone from London. “They go, ‘Oh my god, I’ve always wanted that in a suitcase.’”
Away’s designers have seemingly thought of everything; as such, the brand excels for many reasons. For starters, each pull suitcase has a USB port for a cellphone charger, with a built-in battery that can recharge an iPhone up to five times. The sleek and simple exterior is scratch-resistant, flexible, and unbreakable, and the Hinomoto wheels rotate 360 degrees to ensure a continuously smooth pull. Inside are two compartments: a section that is kept in place with a zipped mesh overlay, and another that has adjustable straps. There is also a fold-away laundry bag that zips up to keep wet swimsuits and used items separate. In addition, each bag comes fit with a TSA-approved combination lock. All this in a direct-to-consumer model that means prices are kept low compared to other brands of similar quality. From a small carry-on to a large suitcase meant to be checked to destination, Away has every kind of trip covered.
“Once you have travelled with the ability to charge your phone from your suitcase, you’re like, ‘How did I ever do this before?’” says Bates, noting it as her favourite product feature. “Everything that the bag is made from and all of its design features—everything from the wheels to the USB charger—really is about easing any travel mishaps that you could have along the way. You don’t want your luggage to be a problem while you’re travelling.”
Aside from the actual product, Away has managed to create a culture around its brand—one that promotes exploration, innovation, and beauty. And Bates, who herself is under 25, is a huge part of that, and explains that Instagram was one of Away’s greatest apparatuses for progress. “With any sort of company that wants to have a major impact as a start-up and to have rapid growth, Instagram is such a valuable tool,” she says. “Not only for brand awareness, but also for getting your message out there. Sure, people might find you via a sponsored ad on Instagram, but they’re only following you because you’ve engaged them properly and they enjoy your story that you’re presenting to them.” With “lifestyle” product shots that show a hip, diverse cross section of people sporting the bags while exploring the streets of India or sipping cocktails at an airport, Away’s marketing is inspirational, not aspirational. The luggage, the jet-setting—that’s all within reach.
For items to covet, browse our Wishlist section.