This week on The Onion’s “Lake Dredge Appraisal,” a pilfered briefcase!
Lotuff and Clegg: A Review
Lotuff and Clegg contacted me about reviewing one of their products, so I agreed to have them send me their English briefcase. I received the bag some time ago and find it to be absolutely incredible. The vegetable-tanned leather is exceptionally handsome, with a lot depth and richness to its color, as well as a bit of texture to its skin. It’s also very soft and pliable, but still resilient. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t scuff or scratch as easily as many high end bridle leathers. To secure its construction, there are pure brass buckles, rivets, and clips, which together not only make the bag more sturdy and reliable, but also more beautiful.
Styling wise, the briefcase is modeled after old-school, English schoolboy, book bags. Instead of the centered, buckle flap closure you would find on most briefcases, this one has two straps that wrap fully around the bag, and then buckle down at the front. Inside is a typical organization system: two leather separators that create four large compartments for your books, laptop, and notebooks; a zippered pocket for your miscellaneous items; and some small pockets for your pens, calculators, and business cards. On the outside, there is a large pouch so that you can have easy access to things while your bag is closed. All in all, it doesn’t carry an extraordinary amount, but I can fit a laptop, two books, some papers, and a notepad. I would liken it to a Filson 256’s carrying load.
The only downside is the price. At $950, it’s a pretty pricey, to say the least. Whether this is a smart buy for you is largely dependent on your budget, but I can tell you about some other options around this price point, so that you can have comparisons. North of this is Swaine Adeney Brigg’s Wrap-Around document case, which costs roughly $1,500-$2,000. Having handled this bag, I can tell you that it’s indeed superior to anything else on the market. The problem is that it’s so spectacularly romantic in its workmanship that unless you’re carefully dressed to match its class, you will look like the bag’s accessory. South of Lotuff and Clegg’s price point is Filson’s satchel, which costs between $600 to $800. The quality of this bag is a bit less opulent, so it’s easier to carry for everyday use, but its thicker bridle leather tends to wrinkle more. This is especially evident in the folds of the accordion, where Filson has glued and stitched two slabs of leather together (compared to SAB’s one slab of leather). The result is a kind of wrinkly, clump near the base of the bag, instead of the nice folds you would find on a SAB. Lotuff and Clegg’s bag has the same problem, but since the leather is a bit textured, it’s less noticeable. Filson’s also feels like a rugged version of the SAB, whereas Lotuff has a more refined, but casual, sensibility.
In the end, I’ve found the Lotuff and Clegg bag to be just easier to pull off than other similarly high-end messenger/ satchel styled briefcases. I bring my bag into classrooms, libraries, and cafes, and something like this is much more suitable. It’s superbly handsome, and will age better than a Filson and keep things much more casual than a Brigg. I liked it so much, in fact, that I bought the sample they sent me (which they kindly sold to me at a discount). It’s quite an expensive purchase, but if you’re on the market for a high-end bag, and considering things like the SAB or Filson, I think Lotuff’s model is well worth your consideration.
(By the way, Bruce Boyer recommended me the book shown in the picture above - The Craftsman by Richard Sennett. I’m nearly halfway through the book and am really enjoying it. You can read a review of it here to see if you’d like to also pick it up).
Addendum: Jesse and two readers (Michael and Joe) reminded me that there some other really great companies that make this style of bag - Saddleback Leather, Narragansett Leathers, and Custom Leathers. They’re much more affordable than the ones discussed above, so be sure to check them out as well.
Q and Answer: What Color Should My Briefcase Be?
Charlie asks: I’m getting close to the end of my grad school years and am looking to hang up my backpack for good and replace it with a briefcase. We always match our belts and shoes, but what about leather bags? Is matching one’s shoes with one’s bag something best left for the ladies?
Generally speaking, don’t worry about it. The above photo (by the Sartorialist) is a great example of a man whose case does not match his shoes, but nonetheless looks great.
The briefcase basics largely breakdown along serious/less serious lines: black is a little more serious than brown. Hard is a little more serious than soft. A refined aesthetic is a little more serious than a rough one. Bear in mind, though, that these are for the most part fine distinctions.
Matching bag to shoes can be nice, but few people want to take everything out of their briefcases in the morning to match them to their choice of footwear. My recommendation is to consider the color shoe you’ll most frequently wear, and buy a case in that color. If you’re a brown casual shoe type guy, maybe a black hard case isn’t the choice for you. If you’re a sober banker, perhaps a floppy brown bag won’t fit your style. You can also consider a color like burgundy, which will relieve you of the pressure to match almost completely.
It’s On eBay
Wow. Now that’s a bag.
I’ve been trying to talk StyleForum’s RJMan into starting a Tumblr so he can share with the world his amazing finds. I haven’t won that battle yet, but in the meantime, here’s a beautiful briefcase he’s selling. It’s by Tanner Krolle, and is a steal at only $600. Retail on this would be around $2000. If you’re looking for a business bag you can carry for the rest of your life, this one’s a good bet. If you’re not a StyleForum member, but you’re serious about the bag, email me and I’ll forward it over to RJMan.
This beautiful bag, on sale at StyleForum for $149, is a great example of the quality of leather goods one can buy for a very reasonable price if one is willing to buy second-hand or vintage. It’s also a great example of a bag for a man.
If you’re one of the people who’s always emailing me saying that you’re not ready or willing to carry a briefcase or other professional bag, but you’re too old for a college-y bag, just get something from this Jack Spade sale. These folks really get that simpler is better, and they understand how to make a masculine bag without resorting to adding a bunch of toggles. They do good work. If there isn’t something on there you like right now, just wait for the next time Spade comes up on Gilt, and I’m sure you’ll find something.
This “man purse” talk has to stop.
People of both genders carry bags. In these bags, they put their stuff. Women carry purses and briefcases and plenty of other styles. Men carry briefcases and messenger bags and plenty of other styles. This is how it is, how it was and how it will always be.
Calling a man’s bag a “man purse” is like calling his shirt a “man blouse.”
Give it a rest.
It’s On eBay
Peal & Co. for Brooks Brothers Briefcase