Still, the brand has its detractors. Editorialist senior fashion editor Danielle Naer owns a suitcase from the Dior x Rimowa collection, and notes that it’s spent a travel-packed year collecting dust in the back of her closet. She blames the wonky locks, unforgiving sizing, and overly forgiving flex dividers (instead of zippered compartments) that let smaller items slip through the cracks. When we spoke to her, Naer was planning on dropping her suitcase off at TheRealReal that very week. (Gulp.)
There’s no doubt Rimowa’s got the looks part of the equation down, but is its hero product actually equipped to slide into an overhead bin without any serious elbow grease? Both Rimowa’s and Away’s carry-ons are cabin-compatible at 21.7 inches tall and roughly the same depth. But Rimowa’s version is about two inches wider than its competitor—a shade closer to Away’s Bigger Carry-On—though it’s also slightly less portable and offers less storage. The original Away clocks in at two pounds lighter than Rimowa’s famously lightweight 9.5-pound frame, and has a storage capacity of 10.5 gallons, versus Rimowa’s 9.2 gallon capacity.
Beyond the numbers, Rimowa’s handle can be customized to lock in at any height, a major boon for leggier travelers. (Away’s relies on pre-set levels that still get the job done, but without the same degree of personalization.) Both bags feature their own takes on interior compression, TSA-approved locks, and 360-degree spinning wheels. And, true to its reputation, Rimowa’s really does move around elegantly, though Away’s Japanese-made Hinomoto wheels (prized for their silent glide) are nothing to sneeze at. When it comes to maneuverability, the experience felt eerily similar—for a $1,125 difference.
One of Rimowa’s biggest aces is its suite of customizable features, giving you the chance to modify your bag down to the wheels, luggage tags, and handles; you can add a monogram to your Away bag at checkout, but that’s about it. One edge it does have over its fancier counterpart, though, is the option to add on its signature USB charger, which tacks on about a pound to the overall weight, but might be worth it given what a nightmare it is finding an open outlet in an airport terminal.
Man, Does It Look Pretty
The biggest downside to traveling with a top-of-the-line suitcase is exactly that: it’s worth a lot of money, and it’s hard not to be precious with it. Call us neurotic (guilty as charged) but we couldn’t help but feel a tinge of trepidation every time we loaded the Rimowa into the back of an Uber or pulled it down from a crowded overhead compartment. On the other hand, we tossed the Away suitcase onto many a luggage bridge without a second thought. There was something oddly comforting about its basic functionality, which, in a backwards kind of way, helped it do its job (carting our stuff from A to B) without making us lose any sleep over it.
But the psychological hump is worth getting over. The first time we took the Rimowa for a spin it kind of felt like wearing new sneakers on the subway, but we quickly realized there’s no need to baby it—it’s primary purpose, after all, is to ensure the stuff inside of it is safe and secure. And if you’ve ever ogled a well-loved Rimowa before, you know that the dings, scratches, and dents it accrues only add to its appeal—that patina is just a reminder of all the miles it’s logged criss-crossing the globe to unimaginably glamorous places. Trust us: Those new Jordans will look way better with few creases around the toe box, and the same logic applies here.
One Important Note on Design
The fundamental design difference between Rimowa’s suitcase and Away’s is pretty negligible, at least at first glance: The latter closes with a zipper, and the former fastens with a lock. Away’s zipper is mercifully forgiving—an overpacker’s dream. Rimowa’s double-locks, on the other hand, can be a pain to close. Sure, they look exponentially more elegant and hold up far better than a plain ol’ zipper. But latching the two sides together eliminates the most satisfying part of wrangling an overstuffed bag: sitting on top to squeeze the case shut. If you’re prone to tossing half your closet into your carry-on no matter where you’re headed, you’ll appreciate the functionality Away’s zipper provides.
Finally: Is the Rimowa Suitcase Worth It?
Well, folks, your patience is about to be rewarded. (Frankly, if you skipped straight here from the introduction your impatience is about to be rewarded, too.)