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Interview: Emelie De Vitis, Rimowa’s CMO and VP of Product

The renowned luxury travel brand’s exhibit lands in NYC

Founded in Cologne circa 1898, Rimowa has become one of the world’s most renowned luxury travel brands. This is thanks to their lasting aluminum design and, more recently, their collaborations with brands both within and outside of the LVMH family (including Fendi, Supreme, Off-White, Daniel Arsham and soon Tiffany & Co). Earlier this year, in Tokyo, Rimowa debuted a traveling exhibition, entitled SEIT 1898, featuring historic pieces crafted by the maison over the years. For curious travelers who couldn’t make it to Japan, the exhibit has landed in NYC for fashion week before it heading to Cologne. Open to the public through 17 September at the Chelsea Factory, the exhibition is larger than its previous iteration, featuring more pieces and a sneak peek at the upcoming Tiffany & Co collaboration. To learn more, we sat down with Emelie De Vitis, Rimowa’s CMO and VP of Product, to chat about the future of the storied brand. 

Courtesy of Rimowa

Over the last few years, Rimowa has undergone a drastic revival and realignment. How do you determine which partners to collaborate with? 

Collaborations have been a part of our heritage since the brand’s early days, and historically we’ve always been inspired by and gravitated toward tastemakers from a variety of industries, those who contribute to or shift culture in some way. We always aim to surprise and delight. We view collaborations as opportunities to push our limits and to drive joint storytelling. With each partnership comes a welcomed challenge that we look forward to overcoming, whether in terms of design or engineering—and it’s been incredible to see the outcomes. 

How has Rimowa continued to innovate while remaining true to the heritage of the brand? 

They go hand-in-hand. Our “Ingenieurskunst” campaign celebrated just that: the convergence of craft and innovative technologies that have made it all possible. Our craftsmanship is a value that has remained fundamental for 125 years, and that’s instrumental to creating quality, timeless products. Simultaneously, we’ve always embraced innovation and prioritized functionality, pioneering new technologies that ensure that we can always meet the needs of travelers through the years.

Courtesy of Rimowa

Rimowa has, on occasion, created one-of-a-kind items such as keyboard cases for Pharrell, golf cases, champagne carrying cases and even a television. What’s the strategy and thought process behind these? 

Creating specialty cases are another way we love to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible. The design and engineering challenges that come with building these cases is part of our DNA. Through the process of building SEIT 1898, we even rediscovered many pieces in our archives, from a vinyl case to a double bass trunk. It’s very special, especially as we continue to honor this tradition with newer specialty cases like the RIMOWA x GEWA Violin Case, which now houses Renaud Capuçon’s precious violin that dates back to 1737. 

This latest exhibit in NYC comes to us from abroad. How has it evolved from the last time you held this exhibit? 

With our heritage at the heart of this exhibition, it was important for us to infuse the spirit of New York City within it.  Housing it in a building like Chelsea Factory, with its iconic red brick façade, is an ode to its history. We are also proud to exhibit the personal cases of friends of the brand with deep connections to the city, like Martha Stewart, Spike Lee and Patti Smith. Of course, another major highlight was a peek into our upcoming collaboration with Tiffany & Co, an iconic American brand with roots in New York City. 

Courtesy of Rimowa

What’s been your favorite memory with Rimowa

Working on our collaboration with Porsche was very inspiring. During that time, I had the chance to visit the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. As another historic German brand, it was an incredible experience to dive into its history and heritage in such a way.

There’s a big push to cover your Rimowa in stickers, so much so that the house often releases limited edition stickers. what’s the thought behind this? 

There’s a special connection that exists between travelers and their luggage—and Rimowa suitcases are true companions. They’re designed for a lifetime of travel, and they tell the stories of these journeys, through the stickers placed on them, or the marks and dents earned along the way. Our lifetime campaign highlights this, and our recently launched RE-CRAFTED program honors this tradition, keeping the stickers on as suitcases are reused, repaired or recycled. 

Courtesy of Rimowa

What can we expect in the near future in terms of collabs and partnerships? 

We’re very excited to unveil our collaboration with Tiffany & Co. It’s been incredible to collaborate with another brand that values craftsmanship and innovation in the way we do.

How do you keep people coming back when the product is so situational? Any plans to expand the product line to other travel products? 

At Rimowa, we create durable products that have purpose. This commitment means that we place craftsmanship at the forefront while constantly evaluating the changing world around us and how that alters our clients’ needs. The post-pandemic shift toward purposeful movement is a prime example. We’ve expanded our collections through the years, launching the Never Still and Personal collections to be reliable companions to travelers, no matter what their journeys look like, catering to every mobility.

The SEIT 1898 exhibition is open to the public by way of reservation. You can reserve tickets online.

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