The suitcase market is changing. Suitcases are becoming more of a fashionable travel accessory, with contemporary colors, trendy designs and innovative materials increasingly becoming the standard. According to the founder and managing director of SUITSUIT, Emile Vijlbrief, women are the main driving force behind these changes.

“A few years ago I read an article in the Harvard Business Review, titled ’Women drive the future world economy’,” Emile explains. He cites from the article: “Directly or indirectly, women control over 25 billion dollars’ worth of consumptive expenditure worldwide, per year. Today, women represent a growth market that is larger than the markets of China and India combined. If you let such figures sink in, then it would be foolish to underestimate or even ignore the female consumer -- to put it mildly. And yet that’s still what’s happening in many markets, including the suitcase market”, says Vijlbrief.  

Vijlbrief continues: “The suitcase market is still a male-dominated market, as evidenced especially by the design and functionality of suitcases. For let’s be honest: most suitcases on the market are anonymous boxes on wheels. Once in a while you’ll see one in a trendy color or decorated with a half-inspired image, but overall they are dull and drab and with very standard functionalities. And consumers are tired of them, especially women.

A woman looking for a suitcase is hardly interested in the commonly discussed aspects of material, weight or volume. Good to know, but not enough to tempt the female consumer. ‘Is the color or design in line with today’s fashions? Is the suitcase handy and easy to use? Will my clothes come out without wrinkles, are there enough zippers and pockets to neatly stow away all my personal stuff?’  Those are the questions she wants to see answered. ‘Is there a separate compartment for my high heels so that these won’t damage my dresses?’ And also, of course: ‘where do I pack my children’s wet swimsuits, after their very last dip in the pool?

So it’s time to design and develop suitcases from the female perspective. And that’s exactly what they do at SUITSUIT. Vijlbrief: “Our mission is to become the world’s number one brand for globetrotting fashionistas. This sets us apart from all other suppliers on the market. I dare say that SUITSUIT is the only brand that is passionately committed to developing suitcases, bags and other travel accessories that make a difference to how women travel, in terms of both design and functionality.”

The brand’s clear positioning and explicit focus are driving above-average growth figures, year after year. So the strategy is working. SUITSUIT products are now sold in 29 countries, through some 2500 sales outlets worldwide. In just a few months’ time the team grew to 23 people. Twelve at the head office in Soest, three at the branch in Germany, and eight at the branch in Hangzhou in China, responsible for the procurement, production and sales in Asia.