The rise of the luxury super-packers : Michael Shaw, Founder, Franklin

If you are anything like us here at House of Coco you probably spend the majority of your time travelling, hopping from city to city and event to event so you too will pleased to hear about the new phenomenon of Super Packers. Here, we find out more from Michael Shaw, ex-Royal Household footman and founder of Franklin, a luxury lifestyle management consultancy for the HNW and international elite…

For those whose lifestyle involves frequent travelling, residing across hotels and multiple homes, even the joy of travel can be blighted by the strain of constantly moving belongings between destinations. To combat this, we at Franklin have seen a number of high net worth families and individuals moving to employ ‘super-packers’, who take the stress and worry out of frequent travel by ensuring the safe storage, care and seasonal planning of luxury clothing, shoes and valuables. These specialist experts, professionally trained in the care of luxury clothing, ensure all possessions are ready whenever and wherever required. However even without the team of professionals there are a number of tricks we can all take advantage of to ensure our most treasured possessions remain in tip-top condition when crossing the world, as well as enabling this transportation to remain as stress free as possible within a busy international lifestyle.

The key to success for packers and their employers alike is preparation. Knowledge of a constantly updated inventory and close attention to all travel itineraries is vital for the packers. However, employers also need to think ahead about their travel plans and wardrobe requirements and convey these to packers so that they can attend to their needs. Once the needs have been established, packers will usually refer to a photographed inventory to gather the items that are required – perhaps liaising with the client’s other staff members in different homes or to hotels where clothing may be stored, to ensure that they have the full range of items.

Then comes the delicate part: the packing. There are many different techniques, but given that cramming luggage into a small space is usually not a priority for the HNW traveller, there is more of a focus on ensuring quality of packing over quantity in the case. The generally accepted wisdom is that heavier items will be packed at the bottom, delicate items at the top and acid-free tissue paper used around delicate or easily-creased garments to ensure minimum creasing.

The packers will more often than not use a different case for different kinds of clothing, creating bespoke suitcases for items like dresses or suits. Cases may also be grouped by the material going inside and will be accompanied by labelled packing lists. It goes without saying that the most valuable items should always travel with the individual or family to avoid them being lost in transit.

Packers will also be careful to factor in shopping sprees into the size of the suitcases required and the space left inside of suitcases to make life easier for them at the end of the trip. It’s also crucial to ensure that all paperwork for special equipment like weaponry has been properly and fully completed before the trip to ensure that there are no hold ups or that they arrive on time.

One of the challenges with a lot of luggage can be getting it to the destination itself. For example, one family of five garnered an impressive fifty five pieces of luggage for one holiday on a remote Caribbean island – too much even for their private jet to handle. Instead, the rest of the luggage was sent on a commercial flight with a member of staff travelling with it to chaperone. For those with more modest, but still substantial amounts of luggage, it is advisable to make sure that firstly, the vehicle taking them to the airport is big enough to handle the luggage. If it requires a separate vehicle, someone should travel in this vehicle with the bags to ensure security. For many HNW individuals, the luggage itself is extremely expensive (let alone the contents) so tight security for this luggage at points like check in is crucial.

Prior to the family or individual arriving at the destination, the packer will get in to the hotel suite or room to unpack and ensure that all clothes are crease free (portable steamers are a must here!), ready to wear and hung or stored to the client’s requirement.

On departure, the packer will go in to the room to re-pack, as well as complete and update the inventory – depending on how much shopping has taken place! As houses have limited space for seasonal clothing, the packers will then decide (with guidance from the client) on how to store the items. A decision may be made to send clothes to a different residence or on to a hotel for the next time they are needed. Once the unpacking has been finished at the various destinations, all items are laundered, pressed and carefully stored in the client’s home. Acid-free tissue paper and moth-proofing are vital here to keep the garments in good condition until their next use. The packers will then carefully examine the cases and luggage and, if required, treat any marks and nourish the leather before carefully storing them or making arrangements for external storage. 55 cases would take up a lot of space!

Luxury packers are invaluable for those whose internationally mobile and busy lives demand them. Sadly we don’t all have someone to do our packing, unpacking and holiday washing for us, but there are tips and tricks from these super-packers that we can all take on board.

  • Don’t over pack – it creates more creases for your clothes. Leaving adequate space between items to ensure they are properly folded will ensure your clothes look their best upon arrival. Consider using tissue paper when folding items that crease easily.
  • Heavier items to be packed at the bottom of the case and delicate items on top prevents creasing of lighter garments
  • Unpack and hang any garments with minor creasing in the bathroom, as humidity from bathing or showering improves creasing and helps them to drop out
  • Valuable items travel with you at all times to avoid the distress of losing a suitcase containing something priceless
  • Limiting the weight of items and looking for lighter alternatives – eg swapping wooden shoe trees for plastic ones – can help you to avoid excess baggage charges 

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