Rimowa essentially invented suitcases, at least as we know them today. The brand, which was founded in 1898, in Cologne, Germany — where it's still headquartered today — popularized aluminum suitcases in 1937 and polycarbonate cases in 2000. Step into an airport nowadays and you're bound to see an abundance of both.
That being said, they don't come cheap; it's $625 for its cheapest model, the Cabin U, a compact carry-on suitcase that measures and weighs in well below airline cabin regulations. (In other words, it's small.) The more realistic, as well as more quintessential, models start at $825 and run as high as $1,625. That's often more than the trip itself.
But people buy them, either at a high-end department store or directly from the brand — because they're trendy, sure, but also because they're well-made and -designed. After all, they are a designer good — at least as of 2016, when LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the owner of those brands as well as Dior, Tiffany and Tag Heuer acquired Rimowa.
But there's a way to get a Rimowa suitcase, albeit not one of the silver aluminum ones, for way less: go to T.J. Maxx.
As of early January, the strip mall-staple discount store has been stocking two translucent Rimowa models, the Rimowa Essential Cabin in Lime and in Pink. They're perfect for TikTok, where news of these suitcases appearing on shelves there broke. Users in North Carolina, New York and Florida reported finding cases in their local T.J. Maxx stores, triggering comments saying ones were seen in Missouri and Massachusetts, too.
Gear Patrol's Manager of People and Culture, Danielle Alavian, found one north of New York: "I knew about the T.J. Maxx Rimowas from TikTok and have been scouring the shelves since October 2022," she says, which is admittedly way earlier than I knew about them. (I'm not on TikTok.) "I had somewhat given up after my local store didn't have any," she continues, "but I randomly decided to go to the Norwalk, CT location, which is not my local T.J. Maxx, one day last week as I was in the area and in the market for a 2023 daily planner."
No, she didn't wander in for the suitcases explicitly but was elated to have finally found one there. "I decided to take a gander at the luggage section and I was pleasantly surprised by not one but two Neon pink Rimowa carry-ons, as well as a raspberry-hued Tumi at the same price ($400)," she says. She bought one Rimowa and the aforementioned Tumi, took both home, tried packing both and simulated the stress-inducing scenario of lifting a full suitcase into the overhead bin. She went with the lighter one, which was Rimowa.
"Neither were heavy, but the Rimowa weighed less," she says. "The Tumi was a gorgeous bag and extremely well-made — I just didn't love the color."
No, the see-through carry-ons aren't the core product everyone really wants from Rimowa (the silver aluminum suitcase), but they're a surprising find at T.J. Maxx nonetheless. These special-edition cases first dropped in 2021 in a collection called Neon, which was designed to show off the brand's new translucent polycarbonate shells. They drew plenty of attention at first, largely because of how they looked once filled: messy if you're a bad packer, but tidy and trendy if you're organized (i.e. use packing cubes).
For $820, many were rightfully hesitant to buy one, especially since opaque alternatives were the same price. But for $399, the green one is a good deal. I'd personally steer clear of pink, but which you get is ultimately up to you — and the inventory at your local T.J. Maxx. That being said, there are loads of them on resale sites like Poshmark, Depop, Grailed and eBay being sold by people that probably found theirs at their local strip mall.