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Luggage Takes Flight

Trends in Luggage & Leather Goods

By Emily Tipping

Jet Sets

"In our channel, something that's different this year is we've always had a robust set business. That has softened in 2009 to more of an a la carte approach," Mitchell said. "Clients are selecting luggage at a dollar value similar to sets, but in individual pieces."

Sets are more typically found in the lower-priced brands, Landry said. "The higher the brand, the less you talk about sets," he said. "The higher-end, more prestige brands are really bought more by piece. Things are collected serially, and people build on the collections they had last year."

That said, Mitchell emphasized the importance of including sets in your program's lineup as an option. "They have a great value proposition. But, if in the past you offered three sets, you might take it down to two sets," he said. "Replace the third set with at least a single piece and maybe even two single pieces from one of our other collections."

Knollenberg agreed, and added, "It is a good idea to offer single pieces as well as nested sets to appeal to everyone's needs."

So what items should you include in your program to be sure you're appealing to participants across the board? Knollenberg: "Always have a 21-inch wheeled

carry-on in the assortment," she said. "The most popular sizes are 21-inch Pullman, tote, 29-inch Pullman, and 25-inch Pullman. Make sure the luggage is expandable and that is it lightweight."

One set you'll want to check out is Samsonite's Tessera 5-Piece Nested Set (above). It provides something appropriate for every trip, with two wheeled pieces, a 21-inch carry-on and a 25-inch, as well as a 19-inch non-wheeled carry-on bag, a 19-inch duffel and a 17-inch tote. The wheeled pieces feature retractable handles, front storage pockets and interior tie-down straps. The duffels and totes include carry handles, shoulder straps and front organizer pockets.

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