By Bob Knorpp
A suitcase that carried moon rocks back to earth?!? Just try to top that! Yet that’s the territory Zero Halliburton can claim.
On the evening of June 16th, Zero Halliburton — the original maker of industrial strength aluminum travel cases — launched their first US flagship location at 300 Madison Avenue in New York with a fete worthy of this storied brand. Yes, their suitcases carried moon rocks. The more important story that night, though, was that the ZH name continues to lead the way in high-end luxury luggage for the discriminating traveler.
NA President of Zero Halliburton, Atsushi Osaki (image by Bob Knorpp)
How high-end, you ask? One carbon-fiber briefcase I was holding went to the tune of $2,350. But let’s face it: If you have the money, this is the case you want to take the bullet for you. Also, in all fairness, the typical pricing ranged from $200 to $600+. I’m pretty sure the black carbon bank-buster was just a showpiece. But still, it was pretty darned sweet. (Just don’t take my word for it being bulletproof.)
Over a meal of fabulous sushi in honor of this iconic Japanese brand, a select group of travel journalists, customer, society notables and lowly bloggers (That’s me!) rubbed elbows and chatted about…well…suitcases. What did you think we would talk about?
Which get’s me back to my point, which is to talk about suitcases. So what’s my honest take?
While the high-end cases are obviously highly desirable, the lower-end cases definitely seemed to drop in quality. The extendable handles seemed shaky and easily breakable. (Just an impression. I didn’t break one.) The polycarbonate material in the body of the lower-end models also felt cheap and unimpressive. Which is not to say that the brand as a whole is not desirable. But it is a reminder that if you buy into a luxury brand, buy the luxury-priced models. Anything less is just the company trading on the name to get into expansion markets of people who can’t afford their stuff.
As for the store, it was pleasant, but unimpressive. The space-themed decor was mildly interesting, with cases floating on near invisible wires in the center of showroom, but the minimalist design of the room didn’t quite convey the luxury nature of the product. It felt a little like a mid-priced shoe store — or maybe a suitcase store, which it was.
But on the good side, the high-end products are truly spectacular. Carbon fiber attaché aside, the new and classic designed aluminum cases feel wonderful and are well appointed inside and out. These are cases that can take a beating. The roll-aboards have ball bearing wheels and every detail of manufacturing screamed solid quality. I’d love to have put one through its paces for you. But alas, the gift bags included no free suitcases, just cheap umbrellas and mints.
All in all, it was a great event, and despite my reservations don’t hold back from visiting the store. If you are in the market for a durable luxury travel case, This is the one place in North America where you can examine the full line of what Zero Halliburton has to offer. Just don’t buy the cheap stuff. Never buy the cheap stuff.
Big thanks to Bob Knorpp of The Cool Beans Group for attending this event for Traveling Mamas and to Zero Halliburton for inviting us to their event in New York City.