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Tumi Launches its Limited-Edition TAG Line with an NY Graffiti Legend

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Last night, a diverse medley of cool-kid types gathered together in the West Village to fete the launch of the Tumi TAG limited-edition collection in collaboration with legendary graffiti artist John "Crash" Matos. The party also marked the launch of the related charity auction to benefit AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, otherwise known as ACRIA.

Crash, as he's known, is one of the original tag artists to adorn the exteriors of subway cars with his work back in the 70's. Fast forward thirty years: Our train cars are near pristine (although still in need of a wash) and his artwork is gracing fine galleries and collections around the world—as well as the veneers of Tumi's fine hard-cover suitcases. If we told his 70's subversive tagger self that this would happen, what would young Crash think? "Never in my mind, in my imagination [did I think] was this going to happen," Crash said with a shake of his head.

Inside the party, the Tumi TAG line, consisting of four sizes, was irreverently styled and on display on center stage. Available at tumi.com and in stores, the collection offers only 1000 pieces of each of the four styles and each piece is individually numbered. The print used on the suitcases comes from portions of Crash's new work, which was inspired by "women's eyes and the energy of street life, in particular how this can be translated to different surfaces and textures." The collection also includes a one-of-a-kind iPhone case, which is pretty awesome if we do say so ourselves. The original canvas, featuring the inspirational artwork, was on display at the event and is on auction on Artnet.com until April 5 to benefit ACRIA.

At various points throughout the evening, a bucket-drum performer would sit within the suitcase vignette and dazzle the audience with his drum skills. The crowd was a melange of pretty ladies, artsy types, hipster skater-dudes, hedge-funders with Matthew McConaughey-coifs, and a trio of gents in autumn-hued v-neck cashmere sweaters layered over button down shirts. All of them were drinking the signature tequila cocktails, one of which was reminiscent of the Master Cleanse—chipotle and lemon, with a splash of Don Julio. In a crush by the bar, we overheard a guy telling his friends that since the artist's graffiti moniker, Crash, wasn't exactly auspicious for a travel luggage company, Tumi decided to dub the collection TAG instead. Ah, marketers.

Before we left, we asked Crash about his philosophy on checking in or carrying on luggage while traveling. "No, I carry on," he emphatically told us. "I'm notorious for that. I don't check in. I don't want to lose my bag and get stuck. I carry on and if I ever need something, I'll buy it and I'll ship it back home." A lot has changed since the 70's, hasn't it?
· Tumi [Official Site]