There are few legacy brands that can be directly attributed to a categorical rise more than RIMOWA. Pioneers of aesthetics, mobility, and adventure, the luxury luggage empire has been hot on the heels of all the cultural and technological forces to shape the world of travel we know today.
To mark RIMOWA’s 125th anniversary – and to appreciate its most iconic innovations – the SEIT 1898 Exhibition is currently on its way around the world with a trunk show of the maison’s most treasured pieces.
The three-fold global tour was inaugurated last month in Tokyo, Japan, and takes a retrospective moment to reflect on how travel has evolved at a time when demand is soaring.
We were on the ground in Harajuku to get a global first look at the exhibition which features over 100 of the brand’s most prized artefacts resurrected from the archives of its Cologne HQ.
The exhibition entrance has been designed to mirror an airport lounge from the golden age of travel, welcoming visitors with a redacted retro boarding area before they step through an illuminated aerobridge into the exhibition’s main hall.
And when we say they’ve opened up the archives, RIMOWA has really gone deep and called in every favour from across the world to ensure it’s the most extensive ensemble of physical examples from the brand ever found in one place.
Aside from the hero historical samples and captivating art installations, it was the snapshots into the practical innovations for various categories – such as music, sport, and leisure – that held my attention.
Everything from the Stradivarius violin cases and sold-out poker sets, to the never to be repeated Cuban cigar boxes. The stunning (albeit somewhat impractical) golf club set from 1998 deserves a special mention, as does the Dior x RIMOWA champagne bottle holder that offers safe haven to your finest bottle of vintage Dom.
Then came the collaborations, many of which were made possible or turbocharged by the Maison’s majority acquisition by luxury goods conglomerate LVMH in 2016. And interestingly, a lot of them are privately owned pieces from high-profile friends of the brand, flown in for each iteration of SEIT 1898.
But the hallmark showcase is where the real heavy hitters received their time in the spotlight, and what the general public is likely most compelled to see in the metal. The pyramid-like altar features some big, big, names and collaborations from right across the brand’s deep web of cultural touchpoints.
LeBron James’ custom-built twelve-bottle wine case stands tall alongside Roger Federer’s aluminium Trunk Plus, which filter down through a handful of serendipitous and gloriously eccentric collaborations with Emily in Paris, Peggy Gou, and even the briefcase from Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
One thing that any observer will notice is that despite moving through 125 years of rapid evolution, innovation, and collaboration, time in the exhibition slows down to a cadence best suited to appreciation.
Small but interesting fact-filled bites of history are peppered throughout, and if you find yourself eager to learn more about the rise of RIMOWA and its technical milestones, we’ve also unpacked the brand’s history over in this article.
The RIMOWA SEIT 1898 Exhibition was on display at JING Harajuku in Shibuya City, Tokyo, from June 9 – 18th, and will resurface in New York in September (8th – 17th) before returning to the place where it all began; Cologne, in Spring 2024.