Executive Creative Director
Nautica founder David Chu took the creative helm at luggage maker Tumi last year.
"Tumi has been around for 30-some years, and it has mostly followed a black ballistic-nylon briefcase concept. That has been very successful but really hasn't evolved. I was a Tumi user for 20 years, so it's dear to my heart. When I first bought the product, I thought it was masculine and rugged, almost like SWAT-team gear. But now I'm looking at how to make it more luxurious, because the guy who used Tumi 20 years ago doesn't want the same Tumi today.
This job isn't just about sketching nice bags; it's about developing what Tumi could be in the next 10 years. I'm moving it to be more of a design company, not just a luggage company. We've launched a new ladies' handbag collection and a ladies' accessories collection. And I've introduced luxury trunks that are like the classic old trunk—the most glamorous time in travel was the 1920s and '30s, when people traveled with these beautiful trunks. They have a classical feel with a modern edge and a lot of detail. This is something Tumi hadn't done before.
This is stuff I would use. At the end of the day, people don't buy a brand—they buy because the product is great. Then the brand means something."
A version of this article appeared in the March 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.