In partnership with July.
Have you ever seen those ‘Golden Age of Air Travel’ photos circa the 1960s where beautiful people in first class sip champagne amid a plume of cigarette smoke getting ready to feast on lobster thermidor? As an old soul, these images have always made me ooze with nostalgia for a bygone area where glitz and glamor were synonymous with flying the friendly skies. People dressed to the nines and accessorized for the airport in style, perhaps best displayed via their selection of luggage for the sojourn. Beautiful valises from the best luxury European fashion houses were staples of this era, cementing luggage as a key new category adventurous consumers have connected with for over a hundred years.
Fast forward to 2023, and unless you’re an uber frequent flier or have beaucoup bucks, travel is anything but glamorous these days. And yet we still have an opportunity to express ourselves with how we move across this planet. I’ve been on the lookout for a modern luggage brand I could be proud to strut to the gate alongside. Enter July, the Australian-born luggage company bringing a much needed design-centric product (and brand) to the category. It’s quietly become my favorite luggage brand this year and my go-to for trips short and long.
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Frequent travelers and founders Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li saw a category that was selling poorly designed products at extreme premiums - and wanted to fix it. The two gents read over 4,000 reviews of some of the best selling luggage on the market and saw immediate room for improvement: addressing the form-factor of the hero products, innovating on materials, and leading with a customer-centric view of things like warranty and personalization that are unique to the brand. In 2019, July launched with a single SKU – the Carry-On.
In the 4+ years since, July has grown up in a big way. From launching into new markets across the globe to expanding their product lines across hard-shell suitcases, overnight bags, backups, and toiletry bags/packing cells, July is committed to helping you elevate your travel experience, wherever it may take you. And I think a lot of that has to do with the brand they’ve built alongside the products. It’s elevated, yet accessible – a tough balancing act for sure, but it comes through across every touchpoint – website is beautifully designed, the brand’s IG has nearly 100K followers, and even a newly opened brick-and-mortar storefront in their maiden Australia oozes a thoughtfully designed aesthetic that makes you wonder if a new Golden Age of travel is right around the corner.
The Ultimate Carry-On Suitcase
The holy trinity of successful DTC companies, in my humble opinion, is the winning combination of brand, product, and customer experience. Aesthetically pleasing brand? Check. But what about the actual star of the show – the luggage?
I’ve been testing July’s Original Carry On ($295) for the last few months and I can attest: it’s a star. Designed to hold the maximum amount of volume that’s allowed inside an airplane cabin, the suitcase comes with an ejectable battery bank approved for flying across all major airlines. For the tech geek readers: the bag has a unique eggshell shape (think rectangle with curved corners) – a design choice that allows more reinforcement at the corners of the suitcase, the weakest points of any German engineered polycarbonate shell. Anodised aluminum bumpers further reinforce your bag, and July even created a proprietary scratch-proof texture to help mitigate the inevitable wear and tear road-warriors take in transit.
The feature set is rounded out with other thoughtful choices: a compressible nylon laundry bag that’s handy to store your soiled gym clothes, intimates, and bathing suits on your trip home. The July Y-Strap Compression System is essentially a heavy-duty strap that allows you to compress one side of the suitcase to create more space once you’ve packed it to the brim with clothing. YKK Japanese zippers (some of the best zippers money can buy) enclose the bag and make for an incredibly easy and satisfying opening-and-closing experience.
But the biggest ‘wow’ factor for me in testing the product is the wheels July has on its suitcases. Dubbed the ‘SilentMove 360 degree spinner wheels,’ these are the most impressive wheels I’ve ever experienced on a suitcase. It sounds crazy to say – but I felt like a badass walking through the airport terminal on our most recent trip with July. The bag itself has a sturdy construction and weight to it, so you really feel like you’re gliding on air despite having a fully packed suitcase in tow. I’m struggling to articulate how much pleasure the wheels brought me as we navigated our trip. They’re that good.
Let’s Get Personal
Great brand, great product. Check and check. But it’s July’s customer-centric approach that really stands out in a crowded luggage market. July offers a 100-day trial allowing you to return the luggage no questions asked if it’s simply not right for you.
You can also personalize your carry on for free, but this isn’t your class borning gold foil monogramming. July has really placed a stake in the ground around personalization, offering customers 11 fonts and 28 colors to choose from to really make the bag your own. At the time of publishing, they even ran a program to personalize your luggage with a photo of your favorite fur baby! July is serious about their personalization and these limited edition launches are a testament to that in a way I’ve never seen another brand deliver.
All that Junk Inside Your Trunk
While I’m usually an avoid-checking-luggage-traveler-at-all-costs, after browsing July’s full product catalog I fell in love with the Checked Trunk ($495) knowing it’d be a perfect fit for an upcoming overseas trip. A few travel influencers I follow swear by the Trunk form-factor, wowed by the twin latch locks (no zippers!) and the 80/20 lid opening to allow for oversized items like boots or hats to not get squished on the deeper side of the trunk. Maybe I’m trying to harken back to that vintage 60s ‘first class’ energy I alluded to earlier, but the Trunk definitely is a vibe for those looking to make a statement with their luggage choice and stand out in the one-size-fits sea of traditional checked bags.
And for those looking to wet their beak with the July brand without making a bigger investment, I’d encourage you to take a look at their soft goods selection – including backpacks, weekenders, and totes. The Everyday Small Tote ($125) is the perfect compliment to the Carry-On piece, fitting snugly over the Luggage handles with just enough space and compartments for all the must-haves during transit. At just over a hundred dollars, the 100% cotton canvas totes are an attractive entry point to start building out your July luggage collection. And for those ready to take the full plunge, there are bundle-and-save deals when you purchase two or more bags.
The Upgrade You Deserve
With loyalty programs cutting their perks left and right, I’m not sure the next time I’m going to earn an upgrade the good ole fashioned way of staying loyal to one airline. Instead, I shifted my focus to upgrading my luggage game to something worthy of the person I am or at least aspire to be. With July, I’ve found a brand committed to the things I care most about: design, aesthetics and function all wrapped up in one cohesive package.
5 More Reasons To Love The July Carry On Pro
- The luggage features a TSA-approved lock, providing an extra layer of security for your belongings.
- The built-in USB port and cable allow you to easily charge your smartphone, tablet, or other electronic devices without having to search for an outlet or carry around bulky external batteries.
- July features a 20-height multi-stop handle for all heights and situations. That extra maneuverability allows for a custom fit to your individual needs.
- Its unique eggshell construction and aluminum fortification ensures the corners are extra protected – keeping it looking brand new for much longer than other brands.
- In addition to their core luggage products, July has toiletry bags, luggage tags, packing cells and more to cover all your travel needs.