Tumi’s Victor Sanz Explains Why You’ll Love The Asra Collection Of Women’s Handbags

Tumi recently launched Asra, its newest collection of women’s handbags, at a star-studded Discovering Asra event that featured South Korean actress Mun Ka Young, their new global brand ambassador, as well as more than 200 VIPs, celebrities and guests from all across Asia-Pacific. The collection is emblematic of Tumi’s evolution as a brand and its expansions in offering more lifestyle products and, specifically, more women-first collections. The Asra collection of handbags joins the Voyageur collection (of backpacks, totes, shoulder bags, and more) and Georgica (a wide collection of bags made of amazingly supple leather).

Asra is designed with go-anywhere-anytime functionality yet imbued with contemporary stylings. The collection of handbags is available in three sizes and four colourways this season, and features a soft pleated structure, coordinating hardware, and a knotted shoulder strap.

Robb Report Malaysia sat down with Tumi’s creative director, Victor Sanz, before the event held in Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club to find out more about Asra, and what the future holds for the brand’s growing women’s and lifestyle products.

Tell us a little bit more about Asra, and how it still features the signature Tumi DNA.

Something that’s quite unique is the handle itself. When we were developing the handle, we wanted to create something that’s artisanal, has a fluidity to it, and feels soft, almost garment-esque—but it needed to function like a handle. We spent so much time prototyping it and figuring out things like how much twist, how much fabric, or how much reinforcement it should have. And there is quite a bit of engineering in the knotted handle so that it can pass all of the ‘Tumi tests’. Even for something as simple and elegant as this, we still put it through all the same rigorous testing to ensure it can be up to that Tumi standard.

This season, colours such as Cameo Rose, Sentosa Sunset or even Citrus Green are used in Tumi’s products. Will we be seeing more of these ‘hyper’ colours from Tumi, which has always been so popular for its black products?

When we design for each season, we set a palate based on inspiration from the location that we travel to. The colours are used throughout all the collections—men’s, women’s, and accessories. We look at what’s happening with marketplace trends, as well as other inspirations from the season. But we also try to make sure that the colours that we choose will last past one season or one year—because our products last that long. So, we want to consider how that colour will resonate with our customers in three, five or 10 years. That’s something we call the ‘Tumi difference’. It’s not just about picking a colour that’s on trend, it’s also about picking a colour that becomes timeless and has longevity.

And yes, there’s always going to be new colours. I know that people think of Tumi as “they make the black luggage”, but the reality is that’s only a portion of what we do. When you come to our stores, they’re really filled with colour, print, material, texture, and smell. It’s about all the senses.

Why release this wave of Tumi women’s products now?

One thing that’s very important to understand within brands is the timing of the evolution of the brand. The brand has to be ready to bring something to fruition. The understanding of the brand from customers also needs to be at the right time. Even if we wanted to bring this out five or six years ago, people may have been looking at the brand in a different way. They may have thought ‘Tumi just makes luggage’ or ‘they’re only a travel brand’. So, it takes time to evolve the brand, to say that, no, Tumi is a lifestyle brand.

Yes, we do make travel and, yes, our heritage evolved from travel and business. But we have to ensure that the brand is ready to communicate this type of collection to customers so that they can understand why the collection is there. If not, you could launch a collection and people might be confused by it or they won’t understand the perspective of what you’re trying to say. So, this is why we’ve been working, season after season, with the launch of the Georgica collection, while Voyageur has been a very strong staple for us. Voyageur’s silhouettes have also evolved as they’re becoming more fashionable and maybe a little less function heavy.

Are there any complementary products for men and women, or even for couples, that you’d recommend?

19 Degree is our new iconic hardside language for Tumi. It’s similar to ballistic nylon—when people think Tumi, they think ballistic nylon. Now, when they think hardside and Tumi, it’s 19 Degree. Having it for travel is fantastic, but we also thought about how we could design this as a day-to-day collection. So, we created products like the 19 Degree Backpack and also the 19 Degree Minaudiere. The Minaudiere is a bag that you can wear as a cross body for daily use, or you can use it for sophisticated moments as a clutch. But what we’re seeing is that it’s also dual gender—both men and women are carrying it. It’s a piece I personally use as well. When I’m travelling, I have my passport and wallet in it; and when I don’t need my backpack, I’ll use the Minaudiere because all my essentials are in there.

It works vice-versa too. We also see a lot of women using products from collections that are defined by men, like Harrison. It’s very simple, clean and sophisticated, with a refined design, and we also notice that women are carrying Harrison bags. So, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of these types of products from Tumi. Pieces that are more on the fashion or trends side, but still having functional elements.

What’s coming next from Tumi for its collections and products, whether this year or beyond?

As we launch Asra and as this chapter begins, we’re going to continue to evolve not only Asra but also our core collections. We’re bringing more to the customers—more lifestyle products and more experiences, colour, textiles, and materials. We’re also evolving how we present our collections to customers and how we communicate with them. And as you saw in Tokyo with our first ever Asia-Pacific flagship store, we’re also evolving our stores and how we showcase our products to customers.

Our sustainability message will also continue, whether that’s about longevity of product, or the type of recycled materials we’re using in our products. You’re going to see that as our new standard mission across everything.


Sign up for our Newsletters

Stay up to date with our latest series