The luggage industry is crowded with hip direct-to-consumer startups, including Away, Arlo Skye, and Roam. Paravel, a three-year-old brand founded by entrepreneurs Indré Rockefeller and Andy Krantz, wants to stand out from the crowd with sustainable materials.
Until now, the brand has been best known for its lightweight nylon bags, backpacks, and packing cubes. Last month, it announced that all of these products would now be made from recycled plastic derived from plastic water bottles. And the brand has just launched wheeled luggage, every single part of which will be made from recycled materials, from the polycarbonate shell to the lining to the zippers and telescopic handles. The suitcases appear to be priced to compete directly with Away. The carry-on comes in two sizes, a smaller one priced at $255 and a larger one at $275. (Away’s cost $225 and $245 respectively.) The suitcases are now available for pre-order and will ship in early December.
In the modern world, luggage tends to be made largely from plastic, since the material is lightweight, durable, and waterproof. But as we’ve seen over the last few years, the world is drowning in plastic. Humans produce more than 300 million tons of plastic every year (8 million tons of which ends up in the ocean). While half of this plastic is single-use, such as disposable plastic bottles and food wrap, the other half is designed to be used for a long time, such as a suitcase. But since plastic does not biodegrade, all of it will end up sitting in landfills or the ocean for hundreds of years.
Paravel is the first of the direct-to-consumer luggage brands to switch to recycled materials. This is a step in the right direction, since it means using plastic that already exists on the planet. Manufacturing from recycled plastic produces fewer carbon emissions than using brand-new plastic, and this also means diverting plastic from landfills. There are several other large suitcase brands, such as Heys and Samsonite, that have begun to make a small part of their line from recycled plastic, and eco-friendly brands such as Patagonia and Eco Traveler that do the same.
Paravel is targeting a slightly different market than these companies as a direct-to-consumer lifestyle brand. Until now, the brand has focused on making products that have a vintage feel, bringing back the romance of travel. But now, the brand is making the case that if we want to have a world left to explore, we need to think about how we manufacture our suitcases.