For over one hundred years Samsonite have been producing high quality travel suitcases, bags and backpacks for travellers looking for stylish and hardwearing luggage solutions. By identifying trends and traveller’s requirements they continue to be innovators; introducing new materials and techniques that ensure Samsonite remains at the forefront of the global luggage category. For instance, the Flowlite polypropylene which can be found in their S’Cure range is as strong and shock resistant as other hardcases, but can be injected into very thin moulds, creating a lightweight shell.
History of the brand
Samsonite grew from a company formed by Jesse Shwayder at the turn of the last century. He was a New York based salesman for The Seward Trunk and Bag Company, and although he was extremely successful was also homesick for the west. So he took his knowledge and lifesavings of $3,500 back to his home state and set up his company. Although he knew about luggage, his knowledge of businesses was slim, so as a Christian he decided to base his business model on the Golden Rule; applying ‘do unto others’ to his own employees as well as his customers. Shwayder knew that he could not compete with many of the larger luggage companies on cost, so focused on robust and durable luggage that could withstand the pressures of long distance travel. This was an excellent USP as at the time world travel was only for an exclusive few.
The company began to grow through word of mouth, and up until the Wall Street Crash in 1929 it was growing from strength to strength, using mail orders to spread their brand awareness throughout America and opening up new factories thanks to the high demand. The Great Depression put a halt to this. Profits slumped to 50% over the course of a couple of years, and the company had to expand into other areas to keep afloat during this period. In fact, during the 1930’s card tables briefly became the company’s best-selling item, surpassing luggage shipments for a short period.
However, the company continued to innovate and introduced the first Samsonite item in 1939 (the name was taken from a strong case Shwayder had named after the biblical strongman). The item was a tapered suitcase that was reinforced with a vulcanized fibre and a leather binding that proved extremely popular throughout the United States. Unfortunately, world events again halted the company’s business as their factories were converted to aid in war efforts during WW2.
Business was revolutionised in 1956 when the company introduced the Ultralite line of luggage. It eschewed traditional wooden frames in favour of magnesium and moulded plastic frames, which not only were much more lightweight, but could also be moulded into eye-catching designs. As Samsonite luggage was becoming the best-selling item on the Shwayder company’s books, the company officially changed their name in 1965 to reflect this, and began to move into the European market.
Since this points the company has changed hands several times, and is now sold in over 100 countries via 46,000 different shops. They continue to remain at the forefront of innovation, and still produce beautiful quality suitcases that can withstand the rigours of modern global travel.