If all eyes are on premium economy — a new, but quickly growing sector of air travel — then the Delta Comfort+ of the suitcase industry is a New York-based startup named Away, which launched late last year with the tagline “first-class luggage at a coach price.” Founded by two former Warby Parker executives, Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, Away follows the familiar, but successful, business models of other “disruptive” e-commerce brands like Greats, Everlane and Casper: a quality product, sold direct-to-consumer at an affordable price point.
Until now, Away’s sole product was a 38-liter capacity carry-on, designed in collaboration with the San Francisco design firm Box Clever. The bag came equipped with a Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate case, Japanese Hinomoto spinner wheels, YKK zippers and a built-in USB outlet to charge electronics. Vogue called it the perfect carry-on “with all the qualities (and then some) of a $500 or $1,000 bag.” I, too, was a quick adopter. The kicker, of course, was that the bag cost just $225 — about a third of the price of Rimowa’s entry-level Salsa Deluxe.
“What we found with luggage is that there were really two polarizing options available to consumers,” said Steph Korey of the pair’s decision to break into luggage manufacturing. “There was cheap, crappy luggage that was going to break. Or there was nice, high-quality luggage that ran upwards of $1,000.”
Earlier this week, Away expanded its product line to include two new sizes: a 62-liter capacity suitcase ($275) and a larger 86-liter capacity suitcase ($295). “We built Away to make travel more seamless, to let people focus on the enjoyable aspects of travel instead of the frustrating aspects,” said Rubio. “When it comes to the product rollout, we always knew carry-on would be first, and that checked luggage would happen at some point. The reason it happened so quickly is because our customers kept asking for it.”
As for the longevity of the bags? “We’ve found that some luggage companies offer no warranty, while others only offer a one- or two-year warranty,” said Korey, who believes that’s an indicator of how long those brands expect their bags to last. “All of our pieces come with a lifetime warranty,” she added. “We’ve built these things to last.”
Available in four colors — black, navy, green, and sand — the full line of bags is now available for purchase through Away’s e-commerce site, or at the brand’s new concept store in New York City.