Smythson of Bond Street has been influencing well-heeled travelers for more than a century, and now the venerable brand has employed quite the influencer to ensure the company keeps both its edge and its longevity while expanding its contemporary travel style.
According to creative director Luc Goidadin— tasked with giving the company a contemporary twist— fashion represents the next frontier, where designers are looking to elevate the first-class commute. It’s a concept that he’s familiar with, having previously served as chief design officer for that other oh-so-British clothing industry staple, Burberry.
Perhaps his biggest challenge is to update the brand to appeal to the millennial-driven luxury market— where Chinese shoppers are crucial for success. “The Asian customer is among the most discerning in the world,” Goidadin has said. “The great response at the launch of our Japanese e-commerce site is evidence of the brand’s resonance in that particular market.”
To further connect with Asian consumers, the company has also opened a store within Harvey Nichols at Landmark in Hong Kong, just five minutes from Conrad Hong Kong.
The key to updating the brand and appealing to an Asian market, he says, is to avoid being trapped in an antiquated interpretation of history while also paying homage to a legacy of creativity that generations of travelers celebrate and adore.
“I’m a great believer in the sketchbook, hence my love of paper,” he notes. “I create lots of drawings and move from idea to idea. The moment I start to battle with one too much, I move on to the next. As a designer, you shouldn’t get worked up and start hating ideas; you can always return to them later with a fresher frame of mind.”
This, in essence, is precisely what he and his team of creative professionals at Smythson have done. They’re finding opportunities to consistently bridge the present and past in new and novel ways with the manufacturer’s latest offerings, which have traveled way beyond Bond Street. In addition to Hong Kong, Smythson now has flagship stores in France and in the U.S. (In fact, the two New York stores lie within close, proximity to Conrad New York Midtown and Conrad New York Downtown.)
“Our company is built on a magical mix of modernity and quirk,” Goidadin chuckles. “It’s a great blend that sets the tone for collections to come.”
Unsurprisingly, he says that, like Smythson— a purveyor of travel accessories and stationery to both European royalty and Hollywood legends since 1887—his signature creations reflect a sense of both practicality and whimsy.
“To me, there’s functional innovation, which is all about finding a better way of resolving a challenge,” Goidadin explains, “and creative innovation, which is a new take on a product’s aesthetics or spirit.”
It’s a philosophy reflected in the brand’s latest men’s and women’s offerings, which run the gamut from original takes on two-way crossbodies and miniature clip-on wallets to carpetbags inspired by Victorian-era forebears.
Goidadin sums it up: “Traveling today starts with a phone and a passport, so offering pieces which are light and sleek and allow you to have all you need at hand is important.”
From your perch at Conrad Hong Kong, allow your concierge to plan an outing to the Smythson store within Harvey Nichols at Landmark to snag your must-have contemporary travel style items.