Airstream teamed up with Pottery Barn to create a premium travel trailer inspired by the Pacific Coast Highway and loaded with familiar collections from the home goods giant. Though it won’t come cheap, Airstream hopes the lavishly decorated trailer will attract Boomers nearing retirement.
Road travel has been in a growth mode for a very long time. RV ownership over the past two decades has increased more than 62%, according to a study conducted by the RV Industry Association (RVIA). The global pandemic also has transformed the way Americans travel, with personal transportation naturally providing a socially distanced experience. The ability to work remotely and attend school online also has highlighted the benefits of the road trip over other modes of leisure travel.
Sales of RVs also are up, supercharged by pandemic-induced longing to get out on the road. During the first half of 2021, RV shipments topped 300,267 units, an increase of over 70% compared with the same period in 2020, according to RVIA data. Travel trailers account for more than half of all sales, with shipments of 209,830, or an increase of 73.5%.
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Business is “exploding” for the maker of the iconic silver bullet travel trailer, according to Bob Wheeler, Airstream’s President and CEO, citing a “huge uptick” of sales. Wheeler said industry sales are on track to hit 500,000 units in 2021, a figure more modest than the 575,000 already forecast by RVIA.
Timing seems spot-on for Airstream to launch a special edition, 28-foot trailer draped with high-end appointments by Pottery Barn meant to exude what both companies describe as “casual sophistication.” The Airstream x Pottery Barn Special Edition trailer also follows an earlier collaboration with Pottery Barn that includes furnishings such as bedding and kitchenware.
The trailer is based on the International 28RB, which comes in two layouts: a queen or twin beds in the rear bedroom. With the standard Airstream trappings (dedicated onboard kitchen and bathroom as well as sleeping and lounging areas), both layouts start at $115,300. The Pottery Barn Special Edition will cost $145,000.
Of the growing crop of RV travelers, 22% are Boomers, according to the RVIA. The largest slice are Millennials at 38% and Gen X at 31%. Though the average spent on a trailer was $75,000, Millennials shelled out an average of $82,000. So it might not be a stretch to project that the older, more established generation on the verge of retirement will be willing to pay $145,000 for an Airstream x Pottery Barn Special Edition trailer.
Additionally, securing financing for RVs is different than paying for a car. That’s because RVs can be purchased as a second home, therefore interest is tax deductible and payments can be stretched over longer loan terms like 15 years.
The trailer, which is not intended for families, is a “couples unit” that can sleep up to five. A dinette in the kitchen converts to add extra sleeping space. The beachy theme of the trailer stretches end-to-end, starting with Pottery Barn’s Big Sur sofa. The Airstream design team recreated the deep-cushion lounger with multi-function touches like a pop-out table in the armrest and upholstered it with performance boucle fabric—another best-seller. The window curtains also are made from Pottery Barn’s oatmeal linen Emery fabric.
The kitchen is a mashup of popular Pottery Barn collections, including an oak fold-down dinette table that emulates the Benchwright collection and overheard storage lockers that take cues from the Aubrey furniture collection. Matte black hardware is used throughout the kitchen and the bathroom as well as wall sconces that look similar to some of the recycled glass light fixtures on the Pottery Barn website.
The galley comes fully stocked with a 16-piece dinnerware set from the Mason Stoneware collection, and many of the panels throughout the space have a woody finish, much like the rustic yet elegant Sea Drift collection.
Pottery Barn also included what they call a “party ledge” for exterior noshing. It’s a tray that hangs off the windowsill next to the door meant to hold your drink or appetizer of choice. In true modern farmhouse fashion, the bottom panel of the door on the interior side has been swapped out for a blackboard; with a dash of creative chalk art the door can be propped open to feature a Pinterest-era menu. All models come with an Indio outdoor folding table and set of chairs.
The Airstream team managed to keep all of the modifications lightweight, but it still outweighs the standard International 28RB by 700 pounds. The special edition trailer has a base weight of 6,600 pounds. The both have a gross vehicle weight rating of 7,600 pounds.
Most modern full-size, light-duty pickup trucks can pull well over 8,000 pounds when properly equipped, but a 28-foot trailer will demand some serious grunt. Many considerations go into the equation of towing, including passenger, cargo, gear and fuel weight (payload), which all cuts into pulling capacity as does tongue weight (the force that the trailer exerts on the hitch, usually 10-15% of gross trailer weight).
Airstream says there are no production limits of this special edition trailer and that availability could last for a “few years.”
The $145,000 Airstream x Pottery Barn Special Edition trailer is on sale now at Airstream dealers.