Nestled along the tiny, tree-lined West 41st Avenue in Kerrisdale, the elegant Faubourg Paris café serves up delicate macarons, hand-crafted pastries and incredible butter-drenched croissants.
It’s here that businesswoman Mabel Forero sips an aromatic loose-leaf tea blend from the renowned Maison Mariage Frères and contemplates a pastry from the display. She has slipped away from her namesake luggage store for a bit of quiet before her day begins.
Fall is a busy season at Forero’s Bags and Luggage as everyone’s anticipated holiday travel, which has been in the planning for months, is slowly moving closer with each falling leaf. All around, the streets of Kerrisdale are already bedecked with seasonal decorations and window displays reflect wardrobe suitable for addressing the unavoidable chill in the air.
Born in Columbia, Mabel met her future husband, Hugh Rose — a Canadian living in Bogota — and in 1999 the couple moved to Vancouver. Together they explored a city of diversity and beauty, filled with friendly people and welcoming places. Although Mabel misses the energy of Columbia, the West Coast has its obvious charms, and with her family healthy and business steady, life is good.
I joined Mabel in this deliciously scented place, and as we sip and chat about the weather and community, the discussion naturally turns to her business. Mabel learned the ins and outs of the luggage industry from her husband. Now retired, Hugh was a respected and knowledgeable wholesaler of luggage for decades and when he stepped away, Mabel jumped in.
Like many teens looking to earn spending money, Mabel worked retail in her youth and after graduation did postgraduate studies in business administration, which ultimately led to a manager’s position at a leather goods store. Her romance with Hugh lead to marriage and the birth of two children — a son now grown and budding as a neurosurgeon and a daughter who is keen on marketing and business.
In 2010, the opportunity to open her own business presented itself when a Kerrisdale storefront came available for lease. Mabel swooped in and soon was renovating what was formerly a franchise luggage store. The final step was adding her family name to the signage, and thus Forero’s Bags and Luggage was born.
Forero’s has an impeccable reputation in the industry. It’s known for stocking the top brands from around the world and is proud to carry the highest-rated lines available, including Rimowa, Tumi, Samsonite and Briggs & Riley.
Rimowa is a superstar in the luggage world and has set a high standard for hard-sided, lightweight luggage. By using the most durable wheel and handle systems and the strongest zippers, and by incorporating intelligent digital technology, Rimowa strives to make transport easier and more comfortable.
This company has a long and fascinating history that began in 1898. It currently operates a manufacturing plant in Ontario and supplies Forero’s. Customers enjoy the quality and innovation of a legacy brand along with knowing they are supporting a Canadian-made product, so it is no wonder that Rimowa is the top-seller at Forero’s.
For years, hard-sided rolling uprights have grown in popularity all throughout Asia, and the Rimowa Topas Titanium is not only lightweight, but a luxury model with a price-tag to match, with the largest costing almost $2,000. This exclusive series rolls through the terminals of the world in the colour of titanium. The new divider system is adjustable and items inside are always fixed by straps and fasteners so nothing can slip around. The larger cases come with an integrated garment suiter bag as well.
What sets the Topas Titanium apart is the latest innovation in travel luggage — the electronic tag. By using smartphone technology, travellers can now check in their “smart bag” from the convenience of their own homes. The electronic tag replaces the usual paper label. It has a digital data module integrated into the suitcase, which displays a screen the same size and appearance of today’s paper labels. In the future, Rimowa hopes to add digital boarding passes to the technology to streamline the check-in process even further.
Probably the most recognizable name in luggage, Tumi offers professional travel bags that are fiercely rugged and utilitarian, and sized to accommodate laptops and portable offices. The Tumi V3 and 19 Degree lines are ideal for those packing for extended trips or who travel extensively for business, or as a practical solution when two people travel together.
Samsonite caters to sophisticated travellers, who not only expect durability and roominess but view luggage as an extension of their personal style. The Samsonite Lite Cube line is a stylish and chic deluxe collection that employs toffee colour leather and stitching as an accent to the metalized aluminum shell.
Those who prefer soft-side luggage will adore the Briggs & Riley cabin bags in rich merlot, olive, black and slate, and their compact totes for day-trips or casual shopping. For air travel, soft-sided bags are easier to manipulate into tight spaces like overhead luggage compartments and under seats.
For day-to-day backpacks, handbags and pieces that are stylish and versatile, look to Jansport for bright-coloured packs of all sizes, Derek Alexander for chic and stylish organizer cases, and the practical and stylish leather accessories of Osgoode Marley.
Perhaps the most fun you can have at Forero’s is trying to decide which of the Loqi luggage covers to buy for your next trip. Whether collaborating with contemporary artists or reproducing popular classics such as Mondrian or Vermeer, Loqi is always creating brilliant designs to catch the eye at the carousel. Composed of polyester and spandex, the covers are colourful, bold and diverse. Instructions are simple — stretch it, pull it, clip it and then hug it.
Whether you prefer four wheels, two wheels or no wheels, know that Mabel Forero and her staff will do their very best to provide you with an expert luggage solution and service in not only English but Cantonese, Mandarin, French, and Spanish.
(This article was originally published in Vancouver Boulevard Chinese/English Magazine).
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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