Tumi has been an American staple in travel and has guided travelers of all kinds to their destinations with refined luxury. From its traditional luggage collections to its focused apparel line of jackets and coats, sunglasses, and intricate accessory designs, Tumi has evolved into the ultimate travel brand, with fragrance being the new pinnacle of the narrative.
Launching fragrance only a few years ago, TUMI sought expertise in the fragrance industry to tell the story of travel through the scented notes of their fragrance collection. Names like Awaken, Kinetic, Atlas, and Unwind all suggest fashionable travel moments. These are the moments that creative director Victor Sanz reflects on when he creates new designs and products for the TUMI brand.
Sanz has experienced moments during travel that have defined his intent when creating. His reference point is an instant at the airport, at an airline club, where he was reluctant to approach the great American fashion designer Tom Ford – simply because he felt underdressed for the occasion. That moment held dear to him, devising the idea of “when traveling, dress as if you’ll run into Tom Ford,” the TUMI brand creative director declares.
Taking the launch of the 19 Degree fragrance to London during its Fashion Week, TUMI held a dinner on September 14, at the Caviar Kaspia restaurant in the heart of the city, a few streets away from Hyde Park. At the dinner, guests ranging from models to influencers, journalists, and associates gathered for a presentation of the new fragrance.
Guests included marketing expert Bryan Griffin, editor-in-chief of BOND Official magazine Igee Okafor, international models Alioune Badara Fall and Alexander Roth, shoe designer MRBAILEY, and stylists Ryan Clark and Darion Famous. This group of individuals and others represented the quality of being and the lifestyle associated with the TUMI brand, which has been synonymous with travel.
Alex Shalbaf, the CEO and founder of The Fragrance Group, has helped usher TUMI into the fragrance market, being its consigliere and helping manifest the ever-growing number of scents that define the ethos of the travel-focused company. The brand has a total of 7 aromatic experiences to date. 19 Degree is the new fragrance with notes of a precise blend of saffron, black raspberry, suede, birch water, sandalwood, and musk, having a woodsy scent overall.
“Right before Covid, we were due to launch our first duo fragrance, Unwind and Awakened. And of course, TUMI got put on hold due to Covid,” Shalbaf admits. “That didn’t stop us. In August of 2020 – just a few months after stores reopened, we launched our beautiful fragrances as a duo called Awaken and Unwind. Since then, we’ve come out of the gate running with all the beautiful creations of TUMI Fragrances. Now we have Atlas, Kinetic, Awakened Distilled, Continuum, and TUMI 19 Degree. We are very proud of the expansion and our ability to work with retailers in the US and abroad.”
Shalbaf came to New York from Persia [Iran] at 18 years old and initially worked in telecom, founding a telecom company with his older brother sometime after. They ventured into the fragrance world over 15 years ago and have licenses with various brands, including Christian Siriano, Bentley, Banana Republic, and the TUMI label. The Fragrance Group has scent lines like Nishane, and the Fragrance Group poster child, Mind Games. Launched with the help of Alex Shalbaf’s wife, Mariana, in 2022, it is an elevated presentation for a fragrance with bottles that resemble chess pieces.
TUMI 19 Degree is a unique fragrance created with Takasago, a Japanese oil maker. The fragrance combines fresh, citrusy notes with a distinctive dark black raspberry, transitioning into leathery and woody scents. The bottle is one-of-a-kind, noteworthy for its iconic 19-degree rippled pattern and matte finish, making it stand out on the shelves.
Shalbaf adores the 19 Degree bottle, as it reflects the sentiment of the fragrance. He describes it, “19 Degree is probably a fragrance category by itself. It’s something that I don’t believe has been done before by other fragrance houses. It’s a partnership between TFG and Takasago, the Japanese oil maker. We worked closely with Catherine Selig, the perfumer at Takasago, to create something truly unique.”
“For this iconic 19 Degree bottle, the pattern is exclusive, and it truly stands out every time you see a 19 Degree luggage pattern that people truly resonate with. We wanted to ensure that the fragrance is even more high-quality than the existing ones in the collection. It was a challenge – but a good one to use ingredients that open up a whole new category for men. For me, the hidden fruity note that comes on top makes it super fresh and unique. A very dark black raspberry, which is unique in the back of this fragrance.”
Victor Sanz took to the challenge of recreating the 19 Degree pattern into a fraction of the sizes available for luggage designs. The creation of the wave facade posed one challenge, while the matte finish was a trial and error until the shade sufficed the overall design.
Sanz recalls the process, “I didn’t know what it really was, but I had an interest in creating sculpture that was functional. And through that, I came up with this mental thought, why can’t art be functional? Why can’t objects be closer to art so people can experience it? So, for me, it took close to 10 years of working and designing, and I’ve been hiding art and sculptures in all the products I’ve done.”
He continues, “It finally came to a point where all the stars were aligned, and I was able to create what I consider to be a functional piece of art, which is [TUMI] 19 Degree. That’s the travel collection. I wanted it to be engineered through the form, but I also wanted the form to be sculptural, organic, yet strong.”
“We’ve all had that experience of long layovers at airports, and I thought, why couldn’t I be at a sculpture park or a museum? Then it clicked for me; there was no reason why this piece of luggage couldn’t be a sculpture.” Sanz’s original luggage design is channeled in the 19 Degree fragrance bottle, matching the energy and ethos of the TUMI brand.
“I think when people first thought of TUMI, [it’s that] we make this black luggage. And I love the heritage of the brand. I love the fact that we have black luggage with that red logo. That’s the signature cornerstone of what we do. And that’s our alpha collection. So as we were developing all the scent family, we were playing with Ombres, we played with this idea of chrome reflecting the world around us, [and this one,] because it was so iconic to us,” as he holds up a 19 Degree bottle.
“We felt that it was very iconic to the 19 Degree, we wanted to honor what people know us as – we wanted to make it as matte black as possible,” Sanz notes. “So what we did – we said, ‘we are that black colored piece of hardware, that black colored piece of fragrance.’ And then we added that simple tick of red. That actuating switch. And even the logos on the side, we also made that in gloss black. I think it adds to the sculptural element of the bottle.”
This year, The Fragrance Group is nominated for various awards, including MIND GAMES Gardez for the Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year, MIND GAMES Blockade for the Fragrance of the Year, Men’s Luxury, MIND GAMES Double Attack for the Packaging of the Year, Luxury, Christian Siriano Silhouette Au Natural for the Fragrance of the Year, Women’s Prestige, Christian Siriano Ooh La Rouge Exclusif for the Consumer Choice, Women’s Prestige, and TUMI Atlas for the Consumer Choice, Men’s Universal.
The Fragrance Group, under Shalbaf’s leadership, has been a finalist in The Fragrance Foundation Awards for six consecutive years. TUMI has been a travel staple for decades and is more the a travel accessory for some.
The partnership between the two has been fruitful and has garnered attention from industry and customers alike.Enough accolades for such a new fragrance company can assure customers that the new TUMI 19 Degree fragrance strikes the notes for any travel plans you may have.