Traveling can be chaotic. It's even more stressful when you accidentally grab someone else's luggage at the airport because you and everyone else at gate B21 are carrying basic black weekender bags. Fashion favorites Sandy Liang, Tia Adeola, and Ji Won Choi are here to change that, joining forces with luggage brand Away on a designer collaboration to actually get excited about.
This capsule marks Away's inaugural designer program, taking a note from dozens of brands and retailers who have found success in partnerships. Target and H&M's designer collections with fashion favorites, such as Simone Rocha, Christopher John Rogers, and Giambattista Valli, retail at fast-fashion prices and routinely sell out. On the accessories front, UGG recently announced its second collection with shopping bag phenom, Telfar Clemons. Even Balenciaga and Gucci have gotten in on the action (just don't call it a collaboration).
Away isn't the first luggage brand to summon fashion designers to lend the brains on a collaboration. Rimowa's collaborations with Off-White, Fendi, Supreme, and more have re-framed the brand as a luxury heavyweight in the luggage space (having Rihanna as the face of the brand also helps).
Now, the brand is hoping for a similar impact, asking Liang, Adeola, and Choi to imprint their visions onto brand mainstays: the Large Everywhere Bag, Front Pocket Backpack, and Travel Pouch Set. And this isn't a one-off program, the company plans to continue its designer program for years to come.
Read on to learn more about Away's new designer collaboration from those who designed it, Sandy Liang, Tia Adeola, and Ji Won Choi.
Meet the Designers
Native New Yorker Sandy Liang may have singlehandedly revived the fleece jacket, applying her Korean roots and favorite childhood memories to create her signature outerwear pieces. She's since expanded into jewelry, handbags, and more, all without losing her sense of whimsy. This September, Liang brought her designs to the masses, joining Victor Glemaud, Rachel Comey, and Nili Lotan for Target's most recent designer series.
For Away, Liang leaned into the flower power trend, borrowing the same floral print used in her recent collections for the travel pieces.
"The creative process was effortless and also a lot of fun because I was able to design without having to think about production," says Liang. "The Away team gave me creative freedom, so I was able to be unbounded throughout the design process. There were so many ways to reimagine these core products, and I ultimately decided to utilize a familiar print of mine but in a new and exciting way."
24-year-old Tia Adeola wasted no time putting her mark on the fashion industry. Shortly after graduating from The New School, Adeola's ruffled designs showed up on SZA, Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, and more. In 2020, her fashion film, Black is Beautiful, was nominated for five awards at the 2021 International Fashion Film Awards.
Adeola brought her signature flair (well, ruffle) to her Away creations, creating baggage that feels as luxe as it looks.
"This was my first time designing travel-focused products. I envision travelers using these products for flights and road trips, but I also see them being utilized beyond long journey travel," says Adeola. "What's so great about this collection is it caters to all forms of 'travel.' The products themselves are just as good for everyday use as they are for bigger trips, whether it's the Everywhere Bag for a daily commute to the office or the small ruffle Travel Pouch as a clutch to an event.
Ji Won Choi
Travel has been at the center of Ji Won Choi's designs since the inception of her eponymous brand, which launched in 2017. Choi was born in Seoul, raised in Oklahoma, studied in New York and Paris, and worked in Milan.
"My brand revolves around the idea of travel, being inspired by different cultures, places, and people. I also have a range of products in my collections focused directly on travel, with airport baggage tag motifs seen throughout hoodies, sweatpants, T-shirts, and jumpsuits," she says. "It was really fun to work with a brand that is dedicated entirely to travel, and Away was a perfect partner in bringing my love of travel to life."
Each designer was tasked with reimagining three of Away's core silhouettes. Liang infused her playful floral print, noting that "on the Away products, looks more like a floral camo."
"For any collaboration or partnership I do, it's crucial for me to feel like there is brand alignment and like I can be authentic in my design process," says Liang. "The playfulness of the patterns in my collection definitely harness the wanderlust everyone is feeling right now for travel, but the products themselves, which are all smaller, soft travel items, are friendly for the type of travel many people are focused on right now. That is, domestic trips and weekend getaways."
For Adeola, translating her brand's mission of creating modern luxury was crucial, making the partnership an extension of her designs.
"I wanted this collection to feel chic and luxurious, which is why I chose to work with tweed for these products. I also wanted to incorporate an element of fun, so I utilized my signature silhouette, which employs ruffles," she says. "The ethos of my design approach is one of modern-day luxury. I was motivated to become a designer because I wanted to rewrite history through fashion. I hope to eliminate the notion of who gets to wear what, and I think my designs reflect that."
Ji Won Choi made her bold blue design to stand out in a crowd, guaranteeing you'll never mistake someone else's travel gear as your own again.
"My approach to design is always to create something special and distinguishable from other products out there. I want my community to feel like they have something unique that is worth cherishing. I also want my designs to bring positivity to those who wear them," she says. "For this collection, I used an outlining method that I usually use on my clothing designs to make the Away bags really pop. I have been working a lot with graphic elements to create products that stand out, and you really see that translate into this collaboration."
Meet (and Shop) the Bags
The Large Everywhere Bag
The Large Everywhere Bag ($295) is your go-to for quick trips or weekend getaways, working as a carry-on bag for flights. It features a padded laptop pocket, an interior organization system, and a shoulder strap and top handles. It also secures to any Away rolling suitcase.
The Front Pocket Backback
You'll be surprised by just how much you can fit in the Front Pocket Backpack ($245). In addition to its interior organization system (plenty of zippers and slip pockets), it also includes a water bottle pocket and a back zipper pocket to store your passport.
The Travel Pouch Set
Say goodbye to beauty product overload (and mess). The Travel Pouch Set ($55) includes one large and one small pouch in a water-resistant, wipeable TPU material. With a folded bottom, you'll be able to store (and see) all of your toiletries while you're on the go.