Thinking of the derivation of the word luggage always makes me smile. Yes, it is from the word “lug” or to “drag about.” So luggage literally became something that was lugged around. Little did those 16th century inventors of the word know that some 500 years later we would be pulling wheeled bags made of space age materials through airports and over some of their very cobblestones.
But how did we here from cavemen wrapping items in animal skins? If you take a minute to consider it makes sense that form has followed function as usual. Soft bags that could ride on the back of a horse or donkey gave way to sturdy wood and leather boxes that could survive harsh conditions of long ocean voyages. They were even made with curved tops for the water to run off. The wealthy leisure travelers complied with the societal norms of changing outfits for meals and other activities, meaning trunk after trunk to carry all those clothes, hats, shoes and jewels to be donned with the help of valets and lady’s maids.
In 1837 Paris, at the age of 16, young Louis Vuitton undertook training as a trunk maker. His business changed the world or trunks and travel when he began making flat top trunks that could easily stack on carriages, trains and boats.
Samsonite began in Denver, Colorado in 1910. How funny they chose to name one of their original models, Samson, after the Biblical strongman. Eventually the whole company would take on that name. Travel was still for the well to do and Samsonite had a reputation for good quality.
With the growth of car travel people easily got from point A to point B. It is not a problem to carry a bag the short distances you must when you are on a road trip. But then came mass air travel and the need to haul bags up and down stairs, and to carry them along lengthy concourses. Is it any wonder the wheeled bag was first patented in 1970 and was followed with the roll-aboard bag in 1987?
Think what a difference the heavy- duty nylon zipper made to luggage. Combine zippers with DuPont Cordura® and you have the lightweight, wheeled bags that 40% of us use today. Cordura was developed for the military but its light weight, durability, and resistance to scuffing, made it a great material for luggage.
Next time you take your suitcase out for packing, remember your ancestors and how they used the precursors of your bag for their travels. From animal skins, to Louis Vuitton, to Samsonite, to your wheelie bag that could soon be equipped with its own GPS tracking to prevent loss. We have it pretty good.