Tumi Creative Director Victor Sanz On Why The Brand Never Sits Still

Although he’s been with the company since 2003 when he joined as a senior designer, Victor Sanz is effervescently excited about what he and his colleagues at Tumi will be designing, working on and releasing this quarter, this year and beyond. From a brand-new sports collection to a greater variety of lifestyle offerings in its hugely popular 19 Degree Aluminum series, as well as the launch of its first ever flagship store for the Asia-Pacific region, there’s a lot going on at Tumi that makes Sanz, its creative director, feel like it’s his first day at work every time he steps in the office.

Tumi Spring/Summer 2024 19 Degree Aluminum International Carry-On in Black (left), and Texture Blush.

“Being able to discover new things and to bring products and solutions to people is fantastic,” Sanz says excitedly when we meet before the opening of the APAC flagship store in Omotesando, Tokyo. “It’s about asking ourselves, ‘What do people need from the brand?’ And it’s okay for Tumi to get into spaces that we’re not known for, because the customer does want that from us. That’s something we discovered, for instance, with our women’s products—that we should be producing more to meet their needs. It’s kept me here for this long, so let’s keep going!”

Tumi Spring/Summer 2024 Wheeled Duffel in Steel (left), Compass Crossbody in Steel (middle), and Alpha Bravo Expedition Backpack in Steel.

As a designer and a creative director, what’s your favourite thing about working for a brand like Tumi?

One of the most appealing things is being able to continually push the brand forward. We’re never sitting still, we’re always designing new products and we’re always solving new problems. There’s never a boring moment at the brand. We carry through the same level of thinking that goes into designing a suitcase even into something as simple as a fragrance bottle.

Tumi is known for its emphasis on design, functionality and performance. How do you and the design team balance all three, especially now that consumers are demanding more, costs are getting higher, and we need to be more eco-sustainable than ever? 

When I and the design team get together, we walk through all of that. What is the main purpose of the piece? How is the customer going to use it? How will it look? Is it the right material, and can it be made of recycled materials? The conversation is happening continuously. And, of course, we want to ensure that we’re bringing the best value to the customer. We know that we’re making a premium product but there’s a reason why costs are what they are—because we want it to last. We take pride in the fact that our products last for so many years. Seeing products that I designed 20 years ago still being used, and staying out of landfills, is pretty special.

Victor Sanz, creative director of Tumi, at the brand’s first Asia-Pacific flagship store in Omotesando, Tokyo.

Tumi has fans all over the world, especially in Malaysia and in Singapore. So how does Tumi design and create the products to appeal to such a worldwide spectrum of customers?

We’re a global brand. We know that our customers are not only staying local but they are also travelling. We also work very closely with all the regions to understand local customers and how they use our products. For example, in North America a lot of people drive to the office but here in Tokyo, a lot take trains. So we analyse it from a global perspective, we look at all of the nuances and try to find those intersections from an efficiency standpoint. Sometimes, we’ll create a product for a specific market only, and it may take a year or two for it to cross all the oceans. That’s something you’ll see from us as we continue to test, develop and innovate.

What’s your current Tumi carry-on bag, and what’s always in it?

I’m travelling right now with the 19 Degree Aluminum Backpack and the 19 Degree Aluminum Compact Carry On. There are a few items that I just can’t live without. One is my sketchbook and sketching kit. The nice thing about pen and paper is that they never run out of battery. I must have my phone with me, because that’s my camera, music and communication tool. It sets my pace for the day. Lastly, my sunglasses—luckily enough, Tumi makes sunglasses.

Tumi Spring/Summer 2024 Alpha Bravo Nomadic Backpack in Steel.

What’s in Tumi’s pipeline for products and collections this year?

This year, we’re expanding the 19 Degree collection. When 19 Degree was originally born, it was all travel, but we realised that the collection has more potential outside of travel. So we started developing day-to-day bags—not just for men but also for women and for everyone. Another very exciting collection we’re launching is the Tumi Sport Golf collection. As we studied our customers, we saw that golf, sports and wellness are big parts of their lifestyle. We also know that our customers carry Tumi not only for travel but also for business—and they’re conducting a lot of business on the golf course. So we saw this as an opportunity to do something new in that space.

Lastly, as a global citizen yourself, what’s your best packing advice or travel top tip?

I have a few. Firstly when it comes to packing, I lay everything out—and I cut in half. Everybody is notorious for over-packing, myself too. But if you start with half of what you think you need, that’s probably closer to what you’ll need. Secondly, always approach travel with a calm mindset. Things always happen in travel, things that are out of anyone’s control. If a storm comes through and a flight gets delayed or cancelled, stay calm. Yes, it can be an annoyance, but if you stay calm, a smile will get you further than a frown. Lastly, really enjoy the location you’re in and don’t take it for granted. Be grateful of the culture you’re in and be sure you’re experiencing the space you’re in, because we know how quickly all of that can be taken away.

Tumi Spring/Summer 2024 Georgica Valorie Tote in Acid Green (left), and Grey/Black.


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