Carl Friedrik’s Trunk Luggage Will Make You Feel Like A Character From The White Lotus

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Photo courtesy of venus wong.
Confession: I love googling all the fancy-looking products and clothing I see on TV, especially when I’m watching a show about wealthy people. It helps me build a better understanding of the characters and their (often, but not always) “quiet luxury” style, and let’s face it — it’s kind of fun to gawk at the pricetag and brush up my knowledge about fancy brands.
One of my favorite discoveries, ever, came by way of two HBO shows that featured insanely lavish destinations and outfits and accessories, The White Lotus — which is currently filming its third season in Thailand — and Succession. Yep, I’m talking about the chic suitcases and weekender bags from Carl Friedrik.
I first took notice of Carl Friedrik when The Carry-On popped up in season three and four of Succession as the Roys’ luggage of choice in Tuscany. Upon a recent rewatch of season two of The White Lotus, the Palissy 25-Hour Briefcase — seen on the arms of Valentina, the fastidious hotel manager — also caught my eye. Upon sleuthing, I was pleasantly surprised that prices start at under $500. While this is still a lot of money, it clocks in at much more affordable that designer competitors. The bigger check-in size retails at $745.
Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery / HBO
Valentina, the impassioned hotel manager from season two of The White Lotus, with her Carl Friedrik leather briefcase.
Carl Friedrik’s suitcases, in the classic "steamer trunk" style, are predictably stylish (they’re good enough for a media tycoon character, after all). The most popular item is the aforementioned The Carry-On, with a dark-gray shell and cognac Italian details. But the brand has also recently released an all-black, check-in version named Trunk, which stands at 28.7 inches tall and can fit clothes and essentials for a longer trip. This timeless colorway looks super slick and is better at hiding dirt and scratches than the cognac style (more on that later).
As Refinery29's resident travel writer and a massive fangirl of both TV shows, there was no question that I had to give the brand a proper test-run. Here's my honest, no-BS account of what it's like to travel like a character from your favorite HBO shows, featuring the brand’s bestselling carry-on.

Carl Friedrik's Succession and White Lotus-approved luggage:

Photo: Courtesy of Venus Wong.
When I wheeled my Carl Friedrik carry-on into a hotel lobby for my girls' staycation, I was immediately stopped by my bestie for the brand deets. I don't blame her: The suitcase has one of the most elegant designs I've ever seen (and I test out luggage for R29's Most Wanted team for a living).
I really loved how the gunmetal gray hardshell contrasted with the tan leather details. The quality of materials is top-notch, too. The exterior is a polycarbonate case — a thermoplastic that scores high in both durability and weightlessness — while the stripe and handles are made from vegetable-tanned Italian leather. A rectangular aluminum frame keeps the suitcase extra indestructible, and the exposed nails dotting along the edges look super-smart.
The vertical ridges on the shell reminded me of Rimowa luggage, another high-quality travel brand favored by the rich and famous (it's worth noting that at $495, this carry-on is just one-third of the cost of Rimowa's signature aluminum cabin luggage).
At 14.6 x 21.6 x 9.5 inches, the suitcase has an impressive amount of storage compared to others. I credit this to the boxy shape and angular corners, which help max out every inch of internal real estate without violating airline size guidelines. I was able to pack four to five thick winter outfits on one side and still have plenty of room on the other half after fitting in an extra pair of shoes and a big toiletry bag.
There are two sets of compression straps, along with one removable compression pad, to make cramming more efficient. While I liked that there are two small zipped pockets inside, I do think the Carry-On could benefit from including a laundry bag. The two snap closures, both with password-protected TSA locks, are a nice feature if you don't like fidgeting with zippers.

I may not be the main character of a lush HBO show, but Carl Friedrik’s The Carry-On made me look — and feel — like one.

For how much it can hold, the suitcase itself didn't feel heavy at all, and the weight felt evenly distributed when it was full; I was able to lift it with ease. A special shoutout goes to the quiet-as-a-whisper Hinomoto wheels. If you're familiar with rolling luggage at all, you'll know that these are the crème de la crème of wheels, and they made pushing the baggage around virtually seamless.
The only potential drawback I can point out, however, is the telescopic handle. Compared to the rest of the bag, which is very well-made, it feels a bit hollow and rickety. I would also have preferred if it were more ergonomically designed to mold to the curve of my hand.
Photo: Courtesy of Venus Wong.
My Carl Friedrik suitcase, in the immediate aftermath of a two-storey freefall.
The suitcase held up nicely on my three short trips, but the ultimate test was an accident. I was making my descent into a subway station when I tipped over the bag and sent it tumbling down an insanely long escalator. The suitcase made its way down what must have been two storeys before crashing into a wall.
Thankfully, no one was hurt, and my bag was remarkably intact after this whole episode. There was only some dirt and dust collected on the surface (which are visible in the photo above and made the top corner appear dented); but zero dents or blemishes were present after I actually wiped the case down. If you look closely, the exterior has a textured, lattice pattern that does a great job of making scuff marks less visible.
This whole experience really sealed the deal for me: I may not be the main character of a lush HBO show, but Carl Friedrik’s The Carry-On made me look — and feel — like one. This suitcase is the opposite of a ludicrously capacious bag, to borrow one of my favorite lines from Succession. It has the stylish but rock-solid, longwear construction to back up the pricetag without screaming to the world that it's a designer item. To me, that's what quiet luxury really is.
This article was first published in April 2023.

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