7 Questions for George Esquivel, Creative Director, Tumi

Photo: Evan Sung

We want to take a trip with George Esquivel. We don’t mean this in a stalker-ish way. We’re just curious to see how the effortlessly stylish globetrotter, well, stays so effortlessly stylish after so much globetrotting. His work necessitates near-constant travel: A noted shoe designer — his namesake footwear line was nominated for a CFDA Fashion Fund Award — Mr. Esquivel added another impressive line to his CV last February when he was named creative director for Tumi, one of Gilt’s go-to brands (check out our sale starting today). His mission? He’s since worked with Tumi’s worldwide design team to build upon the company’s mantra: Effortlessly merge function and style. We caught him between terminals for a little chat.

Describe your role at Tumi. As creative director, I work with all departments. The end goal is for me to influence all aspects of creative, from design to image to branding and marketing.

Tumi’s style has evolved to become more fresh and modern, while retaining the brand’s signature focus on functionality. What’s been your role in this? My role has been to influence the collection by adding some of my aesthetics to the styling — rich leathers, mixed materials and subtle detailing — all while making sure the technical superiority that Tumi is known for is never sacrificed.

How much do you travel? I’m in New York every month to work with our teams at Tumi, but just to give you an idea of what my travel schedule is like, here’s February through May.
Feb./March: LAX-NYC-Milan-Paris-LAX
April: LAX-London-LAX, LAX-NYC-LAX
(In between those trips I took shorter-distance trips to see my personal clients for my footwear brand.)

How do you pack clothes for this dizzying web of trips? All of my blazers are deconstructed; this is helpful when it comes to packing, as they’re easy to fold without worrying about losing shape. I pack tailored jeans (unwashed, black), T-shirts and button downs in neutral colors, to pair with my blazers. Simple yet versatile.

And what do you pack that simple-yet-versatile wardrobe in? My Tumi Alpha large soft travel carry-on duffel, a great non-wheeled option for weekend getaways. When traveling for longer trips (especially for fashion weeks), I carry a large wheeled split duffel; the split feature allows you to pack an extra pair of shoes, and keep them separated from your clothing. For a carry-on, I use the Frequent Traveler zippered expandable carry-on: It’s a perfect choice when you know you’ll be coming home with gifts for family and friends, because the zippered expansion capability provides up to 2 inches of extra packing room.

How do you balance two jobs? Balancing my two roles is simpler than it may appear; they complement each other. They’re both very separate in terms of design and function, but they are both such a large part of my everyday life. Before I was at Tumi I was a big fan of the bags, and on many occasions said to myself, “If I could just add this or adjust that” on the bags — not to make them better, per se, but to make them a bit more “me.”

Besides being inspired by travel, how have the places you’ve lived shaped you? I have grown up and lived in Southern California all of my life. My travels to very diverse cities all over the world has inspired and formalized my hopefully global views. That being said, my aesthetic is definitely rooted in Southern California ease.


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