Rimowa: 80 Years of Aluminum

Rimowa is known around the world for its aluminum suitcases. The very first was developed 80 years ago

Rimowa is one of the few German heritage companies to enjoy decades of international popularity. The brand has high recognition value – it first developed its aluminum suitcases 80 years ago.To celebrate this year’s anniversary, Rimowa asked long-time customers to borrow their personal suitcases for a photo series.

Karl Lagerfeld chose to stage his own travel companion himself: One could hardly expect otherwise. Rimowa hired German photographer Frank Hülsbömer to capture the image of the other suitcases in all of their scuffed and travel story-laden glory. The owners included filmmaker David Fincher, style icon Carine Roitfeld, artist Anne Imhof, designer Virgil Abloh, entrepreneur Martha Stewart, celebrity chef Massimo Bottura, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, members of design collective Ambush, architect Annabelle Selldorf, and DJ and designer Nigo. The result can be seen on social media channels and Rimowa’s website.

It was a moment of tragic luck that led the Cologne-based company to discover the lightweight and robust material that would become its signature. A fire at the company, which was officially registered as Rimowa in 1931, completely destroyed the factory. Only the silver, fire-resistant aluminum was left intact. And with that event, Rimowa went on to revolutionize travel from 1937 on.

The company’s iconic design with its textured sides was introduced in the 50s. Another milestone was the development of the waterproof light metal case in 1976, when a new generation of the famous Topas model was launched. The suitcases are still being produced at the Cologne factory – it takes 117 working minutes and about 90 steps before each case is ready for its journey into the world. Dan Tobin Smith recorded the production process in a film made for this company anniversary.

Rimowa Dinner in Paris

In addition to the film, a dinner in Paris, and the aforementioned photo series, Rimowa has also collaborated with Fendi for the very first time. The collaboration is the climax and conclusion of this special anniversary year, and the suitcase in question displays key elements of both heritage houses: The iconic aluminum case is adorned with the Fendi logo and the handles are made of black cuoio romano leather. “At RIMOWA, we stand for design, durability and craftsmanship. A large part of our clients come from the fashion industry. Therefore, we wanted to get closer to a fashion brand in order to mix our worlds perfectly. Fendi seemed like the perfect partner, given their DNA and appetence to make fun things. The case we have come up with is a true incarnation of what we do best, and what they do best. Our design and manufacturing teams worked closely together all along the process,” said Rimowa CEO Alexandre Arnault about the collaboration. The Fendi x Rimowa suitcase will be available starting in December both online and at select Fendi and Rimowa stores.


Fendi x Rimowa

More information about the anniversary and Rimowa products can be found on the website here. You can find even more impressions on Instagram (@rimowa) and Facebook.