‘Quiet Luxury’ Luggage Retailer B Hemmings & Co Marking 45 Years in Toronto with Brand Showcases [Interview]


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B Hemmings & Co, a luxury luggage retailer in Toronto, is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year and is celebrating by bringing out the histories of its brands, and will be having an anniversary party later on in September.

B Hemmings & Co is located at 162 Cumberland in Yorkville where the retailer moved in 2018. The company started in 1978 as Betty Hemmings (which rebranded in 2018) and sells numerous luxury leather goods and luggage directed for business and leisure travellers. Consumers can find suitcases, briefcases, wallets, and accessories for both men and women. 

“As a specialized retailer celebrating our 45th year in business, what really differentiates us is the careful selection of many of the worlds finest “quiet” luxury leather goods brands that have long and impressive histories of craftsmanship. As Bernard Arnault (LVMH Group) said ‘In the luxury business, you have to build on heritage.’ and we have over 1400 years all under one roof from the brands we offer. Our celebration is in fact the celebration of all of our brands who have dedicated and experienced artisans who day in and day out are committed to crafting goods of unparalleled quality, craftsmanship and beauty,” says Michael Warwick, Partner of B Hemmings & Co.

Image: B Hemmings & Co

To celebrate the brands the store carries, B Hemmings will showcase archival pieces through the windows, in some cases the products that have been sent over to show are over one-hundred years old and as customers walk past the windows, they will see the brands as they were when they started and what they are today. 

“We’re living in a culture of disposability and we believe it’s important to counter that with longevity and permanence – to show how true luxury endures through seeing archival pieces next to their modern day equivalents, and how these brands themselves have evolved. Over the course of this year, customers old and new will get to experience the legacies and histories behind some of the world’s quietest and most distinguished brands. We’re starting with SWAINE London, founded in 1750 and will be working in chronological order each month, culminating to an in-store celebration of B Hemmings & Co., who truly is the caretaker of these quiet luxury and premium luggage brands in Canada.” says Matthew Stokes, Marketing Manager for B Hemmings & Co. 

Image: B Hemmings & Co

Most of the brands at B Hemmings & Co are handcrafted and are from brands that have been here for hundreds of years, such as Swaine London, Globe Trotter, Hartmann, and Tumi.

Swaine London is one of the oldest luxury brands in the world, Globe Trotter has been making handcrafted products in England since 1897 and B Hemmings & Co is the largest Globe Trotter dealer in the world, Hartmann is another brand that has been around since 1877 and the store has been carrying the brand now for 15 years, and B Hemmings & Co were the first to bring the Tumi brand into Canada 42 years ago – so many of these old luxury brands are all under one roof and have an extensive history. B Hemmings & Co carries sixteen brands in total. 

“We truly curate a balanced collection of luggage brands, and there’s something for every type of traveller  – from the corporate road warrior to the wanderluster, we have the best in performance, premium and luxury luggage. What makes B Hemmings & Co. different is that whatever we bring within these four walls, can be repaired when the time comes, and that’s an anomaly in this industry. Longevity over disposability – let’s avoid the landfill at all costs” says Stokes 

Image: B Hemmings & Co

The two different luggage types are long lasting and disposable. Stokes said its products are meant and designed to last a long time because of its higher quality and if the product breaks, customers are welcome to bring it back to the store where the team can fix it.  Since B Hemmings & Co opened its doors 45 years ago, it has also served as a repair shop to those consumers who have bought products from there. Stokes says they offer this service and have been for 45 years as it is a great service to add for their customers and is better for the environment as instead of throwing out a product, such as luggage, the customer can just bring it in and get it fixed before their next journey as the brand is designed for people on the go.

“There is luggage that can be repaired and serviced, and then there is luggage that is designed not to be repaired or serviced because the parts are either glued or riveted into place so when they break, you have to throw it out – completely irresponsible. So for our full existence, we actually repair and service everything we sell to customers and we think that is the responsible thing to do as it is good for people’s pocketbooks and also it is great for the environment,” says Stokes. 

Any customer who buys a product from B Hemmings & Co is entitled to the service and repair on their product, even if it was 15 years ago or more. If you don’t have the receipt, they can receive your information from their database to confirm you have bought the product from their store. Now if it is after the warranty and you have an older luggage bag, Stokes and Warwick suggest replacing it. 

Image: B Hemmings & Co

In the 45 years of business, Stokes and Warwick say the biggest challenge they have faced is finding new customers and this may be because the products last so long that customers have no need to continuously come back. But overall, Stokes and Warwick are proud their products last so long for customers. 

“It is a great storyline that companies are focusing on sustainability and recycling to give a product a second life, but we have to remember that in the recycling infographic the first step is reuse not recycle. Many of these recycled materials are made from single use products, such as plastic water bottles and from other low-grade materials purchased inexpensively. The problem with that is the material was used for low resistance products and is not meant to survive in high-impact use –  it will eventually break and land up in the garbage dump, leading to more consumption and waste. With us, we offer travel goods that are made from high-performance materials, flawless design and engineering, are rigorously tested, and will endure the most seasoned “road warrior”. When it comes time to repair your damaged luggage, it can be easily serviced by our skilled and dedicated staff.  We deliver excellent ROI and this is one of the many reasons why we have been in business for 45 years.”

Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala, based in Toronto, is a new Journalist to Retail Insider. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.


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