Interview: Victor Sanz of TUMI

3.5 min read

Having spent more than 12 years with luxury luggage brand TUMI, Victor Sanz knows more than most about the world of travel. Now creative director for the brand, Sanz is tasked with innovating in terms of design and functionality while still keeping the collection on-trend. It’s no mean feat, but it’s a challenge that Sanz relishes. We sat down with him during his recent visit to Dubai to find out his grand plan for the brand.

How much of a challenge is it to produce new collections for every fashion season without losing out on the functionality?

Now more than ever, there’s an intermingling between fashion and design. Fashion is design, design is fashion, and everyone wants to look good and feel good. So what we strive to do is not just innovate from a technical standpoint but also ensure that what we make is contemporary, stylish and on-trend. The worst thing you can do is have a great product that doesn’t fit in with the trends of the time.

How much of a role does technology play in what you do?

Technology is really important to us in many ways. Firstly, from the technology that is happening in the wider world – whether it’s the emergence of tablets or the way people are using their smartphones – we really try to understand that; and also from a material standpoint in order to offer the best materials to our customers.

We have lots of clever little features in our cases that are all there to make people’s lives a bit easier. Whether that’s the RFID pocket [a special pocket designed to protect sensitive documents such as credits cards and passports from having their data stolen] or the tracer programme that allows people to track their bags if they go missing. All these things are there but they never affect the design; they are always very discreet. 

Is there much difference between luggage and the other items you produce in terms of the design process?

Obviously TUMI is best known for its luggage, but the reality is we offer a wide breadth of things, from business bags and backpacks to our line of women’s products, but the nice thing is that they are all being developed in the same process. It’s all about elevating, innovating and inspiring the customer and understanding what their needs are. The thinking is always the same.

The role of Creative Director can be very different from company to company. How would you sum up your particular position?

My role in the company is to continue to bring innovation and inspire our customers. I have to bring everything together and allow the company to be the best that it can be.

You spent a brief period away from the company back in 2008. What made you come back?

I took a small break to explore some new directions in my career, but I’ve been with the brand for a total of 12 years now and I really enjoy it. I love the people and I love the way design is done here – it’s like a product design process through a fashion lens. I’m a very curious person by nature, so I love exploring different areas such as fashion, design and architecture and incorporating them into our products. 

Fashion is design, design is fashion, and everyone wants to look good and feel good.
Victor Sanz

What luggage do you carry personally?

Every product that we design needs to be tested in the real world by me or one of our designers before it gets anywhere near our customer, so I’m always carrying a different prototype. I’ve lost so much stuff from swapping bags every few days. It’s difficult but it’s really important to me.

Does that mean you’re quite a disorganised traveller, then?

Actually I’ve had to become very, very efficient with how I pack. So I’m probably the most organised traveller I know. Wherever I go I always have to pack what I call my ‘kit’, which includes a sketch pad, my notes, my iPad, iPhone and laptop, then a very carefully picked selection of clothes to fit into my carry-on. I’m usually going straight into a meeting from the plane so I rarely check-in any luggage.

What are your best travel tips?

I always lay everything out that I think I need, and then I cut it in half. That usually gets me close to what I’m actually going to need. You really need to think about where you’re going and what you’re going to be doing, and pack only the clothes you need to suit the situation. 

What trends do you see emerging for Spring/Summer 2017?

There’s definitely a global trend for backpacks. The more people are travelling, the more flexible people are becoming. People want to go from the boardroom to the bar and that’s where more versatile bags such as backpacks come in handy. But the biggest trend we’re seeing is people embracing the world that they are in. It’s all about keeping it casual, keeping it fun but at the same time not sacrificing the functionality. And that’s really what we try to do.

Where would you love to go but haven’t been yet?

I’d love to go to Antarctica. I don’t think there are many opportunities to go there – there certainly aren’t any business trips that would take me – but I just think it’d be a really interesting place to go and see. Then, of course, I’d love to go into space. I think we’re destined to go there in our lifetimes and it would be an amazing perspective to look back on the place where we live from a very different lens.

Sounds amazing… Perhaps TUMI could make the luggage?

You never know. We’re always open to opportunities! 

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