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Outside Business Journal

Luggage Brand Away Makes a Play for the Outdoor Market

Known for its stylish carry-on luggage, Away joins other brands seeking a slice of the growing outdoor market as travel trends continue to shift

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Luggage company Away is departing from its traditional product mix in the luggage space with the release of a new outdoor collection, called For All Routes (F.A.R). The F.A.R line is designed for “however and wherever you get outside,” as Away adjusts to the changing travel market and accommodates growth in the adventure and outdoor sectors.

“During the pandemic, the trend of increasing interest in outdoor travel significantly accelerated,” said Away CEO and co-founder Jen Rubio in a press release. “That shift, coupled with growing excitement for travel as a whole, has resulted in customer demand reaching new heights. With the insight that over half of travelers expect their post-pandemic trips to be different —including a strong desire to reconnect with nature, adventure, and the outside—we developed ‘F.A.R’ to enable our customers, both new and existing, to take more types of trips with Away.”

Away touts its F.A.R collection as “technical and functional” outdoor bags that include the F.A.R Duffle in 40-, 55-, and 70-liter sizes, the F.A.R Convertible 45L Backpack, F.A.R 45L Tote, F.A.R 16L Messenger bag, and organizational packing cubes and pouches for toiletries and small personal items. 

The new line is marketed, mainly, toward travelers interested in glamping and lifestyle-oriented outdoor travel—not necessarily hardcore enthusiasts who require more technical and specialized gear. (As part of Away’s promotion of the F.A.R line, customers who purchase F.A.R products between June 28 and July 7 are entered into drawings for two-night stays at Getaway destinations—cabin stays within two hours of major cities.) The strategy mirrors that of other core outdoor travel brands shifting their thinking to accommodate the rise of a more broadly inclusive, lifestyle-based outdoor consumer market, like Eagle Creek and Matador.

F.A.R bags are soft-shelled as opposed to the hard-sided carry-ons Away is known for, and made of 100 percent recycled polyester. The line’s accessories are 100 percent recycled rip-stop nylon. All models come in a range of colors including navy, green, and white, as well as proprietary colorways.

Away’s new outdoor travel line features soft-shelled duffles, backpacks, messenger bags, and more. (Photo: Courtesy)

Launched in 2016, Away’s suitcases and carry-ons have been embraced for their style, toughness, and innovation, including built-in batteries for charging devices. Away courts young travelers and influencers with aggressive social media advertising. Away co-founder Jen Rubio decided to create her own line of dependable luggage after her suitcase failed in 2015 in a Swiss airport, spilling its contents onto the terminal floor. She partnered with former Warby Parker eyeglasses colleague Steph Korey, raised start-up capital from friends and family, and developed a functional, stylish carry-on that caught on among young audiences on social media, earning $12 million in sales during the company’s first year.

Away was valued at $1.4 billion in 2019 after closing a $100 million funding round led by Wellington Capital Management. That year, however, the company’s star began to dim when a December 2019 article published by The Verge detailed serious, widespread toxic behavior at the company. Reduced travel in 2020 and 2021 didn’t help, severely impacting sales at the brand. The luggage industry as a whole saw a 90 percent decline in sales in the first quarter of 2020 alone, mirroring Away’s reported losses during the same period. Since that time, the company has slowly shown signs of recovery: travel is picking up again, and the brand’s former co-CEO, Steph Korey—the brand’s chief executive during the publication of the Verge article—stepped down in late 2020.

The F.A.R collection launches on June 28 on awaytravel.com and in Away’s 13 U.S., U.K., and Canada retail locations.

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