Melbourne-based luggage startup July it will be the official luggage supplier for the 2022 Australian Commonwealth Games Team.
The partnership will see July supply luggage to Australian athletes competing in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with the opening ceremony taking place Friday morning (AEST).
Co-founded by Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li in 2018, July quickly went from strength-to-strength with a $10.5 million funding round secured just nine months after launching.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic putting the whole travel industry on hold, the past couple of years have been tough for the luggage business.
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Less travel means less suitcase purchases, after all.
Speaking with SmartCompany, July general manager Zhoe Low says the brand’s revenue was down 90% during the pandemic.
The team spent time working on its comeback and doubling down on product development, Low says, and despite the challenges, July weathered the turbulence head on, pivoting its focus to the US market in 2021 when travel was still at a standstill in Australia.
And the pivot paid off, with the co-founders reporting success so strong in the US market that they “couldn’t keep up”.
With Australian travel back on the radar, the founders’ focus has returned Down Under — and to our homegrown athletes.
Low says a partnership like this — “being the official luggage supplier for Australia’s best athletes on an international stage” — is a huge achievement for the business.
“We’ve only been around for four years, first launching with just one product, the July Carry On, back in 2019, so we’re truly honored to be a part of this in what still feels like the early stages of our brand journey,” Low said.
That initial July Carry On product is exactly what the Aussie athletes will be using, with July working closely with the Commonwealth Games team to create a limited-run, customised version of the suitcase for the Aussie athletes.
From Beijing to Birmingham
The news of the Commonwealth Games partnership comes mere months after July was the official supplier for the Australian Winter Olympic team.
Back in February, the startup provided its trademark lightweight cases — branded with the Aussie Olympic insignia — to those competing in the Beijing Winter Games.
Low says both partnerships have come about by the Olympic and Commonwealth Games committees approaching July, which is a “true testament” to the brand’s products.
Speaking to SmartCompany earlier this year about the Olympic partnership, Didaskalou says it’s “any brand’s dream” to work with and support the national Olympic team.
The July team submitted a tender, explaining what they could offer and what the business is all about, he explains. The fact that July — a relatively young Aussie startup — was actually selected, marked a “coming of age” moment for the business.
“These sorts of organisations are looking for young, Australian upstarts to help support the team,” he noted.
“We were just rapt at the opportunity.”
For Didaskalou and Li, these national wins are also symbolic to July in a different way, because it’s a business run by immigrants.
Li originally hails from China and Didaskalou’s grandparents arrived in Australia some 70 years ago.
“They would think this is such a proud moment for them — that their grandkids have a business that is supporting the national team,” Didaskalou told SmartCompany last year, a sentiment that will ring true for the Commonwealth Games opportunity, too.
“It just feels like a real special thing.”