The Good Life

Travelling in style

There is no need to put your style quotient on mute while you cross the seven seas

Remember the holdall? That huge mattress-lined, roll-up bag with thick leather straps, which could hold most of any traveller’s needs for at least a week or two? The arrival of sleeker travel luggage may have forced the holdall into retirement, but the holdall has been given a new lease in Corneliani’s new range of travel gear. It isn’t massive — in fact, it is quite small, is good to stuff with what you might require for a quick overnighter, provided you like travelling light — and unlike its canvas predecessor, it’s made of calfskin and lined with jacquard.

At any Indian airport, it’s not unusual anymore to see travellers rolling out sleek bags from the cabin, into the airport and back out again, stopping only for a cappuccino on the go. The world of luxury travel gear is catching on so fast that you will end up being a dodo if, like most people, you’re still wondering whether the red suitcase with a yellow ribbon is distinctive enough to stand out in a sea of similar looking, mass-produced bags on the conveyor belt. The cognoscenti, on the other hand, carry their matched bags that sport their favourite logos, indifferent to the fact that baggage handlers will leave them scuffed and lined anyway. True luxury means never having to feel sorry that your Louis Vuitton bags look better travelled than you.

Louis Vuitton, in fact, probably had a first-mover advantage in India, with maharajas signing up for its trunks and cases, beautifully apportioned to hold every last cufflink and tie in a separate compartment. But that was when even neighbourhood stores stocked beautifully handcrafted leather suitcases — alas, since thrown away by most of us in a cleaning frenzy. Think of what great collectibles they would have made today.

Those were fairly basic days. You had trunks to load onto steamers for long journeys, the ubiquitous holdall for local sojourns, all of them accompanied by attaché cases. Not anymore though, when there’s a travel bag for every need, in every size. With most travellers preferring cabin baggage, the choice of luxury bags comes with wheels, handles and shoulder straps — talk about adaptability. The equivalent of Corneliani’s holdall is Louis Vuitton’s keepall, rounded on the top for a soft silhouette and accompanied by an attaché case with a prominent leather frame and brass trims.

Of course, the big deal about Louis Vuitton’s travel bags is its logo, whether on suitcases or backpacks. Though corporate types might prefer formal travel gear, creative hotshots like something that’s less restrictive, plumbing for the rucksack instead, though never without the logo. After all, they need something to tell them apart from the real backpackers.

Some like Hugo Boss’s small but smart range of travel gear that looks beyond mere logos for its workbags, reporter (ahem, ahem) bags, messenger bags and weekenders. But Ermenegildo Zegna’s range is more persuasive, with shoulder bags and wheeled bags, office and laptop bags and a garment bag in which to carry suits aboard an aircraft so that you never have to worry about creases or arriving late for a meeting just because the jacket wasn’t in a fit state to wear. Though it’s more expensive than Boss, when it comes to sporting a logo — whether prominently or subtly — a couple of thousand more or less hardly matter. Only style does.