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FW13 Product Review: SERAPIAN Cashmere Collection 24hr Men's Bag

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Serapian Cashmere Collection 24hr Bag:
Dressed up or down, a great collection of soft leather bags for work or travel.

New for FW13 is the “Cashmere” leather collection from Italian maker Serapian, a line of soft leather bags and accessories in a number of styles and colors. The flagship of the line is their 24-hr bag in dark chocolate leather.

Context for the Season: With price increases, currency fluctuations, and legal loopholes allowing for opaque, even dubious manufacturing standards, finding a well-designed, fairly priced, high quality, made-in-Italy bag has become surprisingly difficult. For the past four-or-five years, many of the major players have cut corners while increasing prices, making them hardly “go-to” brands for anything except at drastic discount.

This disappointing state of affairs has given a new opportunity for many smaller brands, offering greater attention to detail, better prices, and a more personalized feeling of luxury. One of the best of these makers is Serapian, a high-end accessories company with a history extending more than sixty years, when its Armenian-born founder Stefano Serapian set up shop in Milan. Continuing to focus on relaxed, functional styles, wide range of colors and leathers, and attention to small technical details, Serapian now has over 90 artisans in its Milanese factory.

Details: The Cashmere collection features a naturally tumbled French calfskin; tumbling consists of putting the leather through a series of wooden drums to give the hide a soft, broken in look while removing creases and impurities (a softness, warmth, and durability that gives the “cashmere” collection its name). For comparison, the feel of the leather reminds me of the “Naxos” soft calf from Louis Vuitton, or Togo leather from Hermes (which is softer than Epsom or Box, but not quite as slouchy as Clemence). Another interesting feature, like its namesake cashmere fabric, is that it is very lightweight and durable.

The 24hr bag featured also features Alcantara lining, good palladium hardware, and functional additions like spaces for pens, folders, a laptop, change of clothes, etc. Pricing and availability are fairly reasonable; with tariffs and such, exact US pricing is uncertain, but in general the pricing was well below a bag from a “major” player like Gucci, Prada, or Ferragamo, while having no comparison in terms of quality and attention to detail.

What I like:
I like the styling, the quality, the durability, and the attention to detail at a pricepoint that makes sense. I also like that all stages of production, from the tanning/cutting of hides to the stitching to the addition of zippers is all controlled by Serapian and carried out in their Italian facilities. Finally, I like that the brand has kept an intensive archive of past models, leathers, and standards, now with over 6,000 different pieces upon which to draw inspiration.

What I don’t: Just a few personal preferences, mostly with Alcantara lining (which I’ve never particularly liked or felt aged very well), and the sometimes derivative styling. With the latter, looking at the bags, one sees colors and styles that have been on the runways from other brands in seasons past: a muted gray messenger that looks remarkably like Louis Vuitton's Spring 2009 series; some grained leathers that might have come from Valextra, or a series of totes that seem more than mere homages to Givenchy. With their history, quality, and extensive archives, I’d like to see Serapian digging into its own past for inspiration and leaving some of the seasonal trends to others.

Overall Assessment: I like the functionality, the colors, the quality, and the history of the brand. With a wider distribution (and assuming that pricing would be in line with quotes from Italian stockists), I think anyone searching for a great, subtle bag for business or travel would be pleased with the offerings from Serapian.

More information, pictures, and details at their website:
www.serapian.com

A few pics of the 24hr bag (more pics of the regular collection on their above website):



post #2 of 12
very nice, thanks for the write up
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post

very nice, thanks for the write up

Thanks! I liked both the bag and the brand. Good bag pics are notoriously hard to take, so I don't have any from the booth at Pitti, but it's worth a perusal of their website to check them out. I found that they weren't too stuffy/SAB territory, but then again weren't too casual like a "fashion" bag. They rode a fine line between functionality and style.

I also like that it was a bag brand I didn't know well; I'm happy to see a number of new brands outside the major players getting some play on the world stage. I will also be writing up some reviews and coverage for some other bag brands coming up in the next few weeks.... so stay tuned.
post #4 of 12
I think I saw them at the Pitti too. Looks great. Now you've got me running after the zip wallet and I can't find it anywhere!
post #5 of 12
Man, now I want one. Thanks a lot, Rach.
post #6 of 12

Price? Anyone know

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
^They range from 600-1200 euros, so perhaps $800-1500, with this 24hr bag being toward the top end.
I can't say exactly that's what it would be in a US store, given tariffs, store premiums, etc. In any case, it is definitely a premium brand, though I feel the prices are fair for the level of quality.

Keep in mind a comparable bag like this from Gucci, Prada, or ferragamo would be $2500+. Lv's Naxos 24hr bag is $4200 or so when I saw it in the stores a year or two back. Hermes don't even ask ($6-8k).
post #8 of 12
I think I'm going to pull the trigger on a serapian travel bag from barneys in April. This brand just keeps gettin better.
post #9 of 12
Loved this write-up, Rach. I like your bag and fragrance reviews in particular; somewhat off-the-beaten-menswear-path. Thanks!
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Foxx View Post

I think I'm going to pull the trigger on a serapian travel bag from barneys in April. This brand just keeps gettin better.

Good choice! Please post a review of it in the Manbag thread when you do. It would be great to get some customer reviews. I've never owned one of the bags, so could only give my sense based on handling one in the showroom.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Synthese View Post

Loved this write-up, Rach. I like your bag and fragrance reviews in particular; somewhat off-the-beaten-menswear-path. Thanks!

Thanks. Stay tuned for several more coming in the next few weeks, including Mismo, Giorgio Fedon, Daniel&Bob, and my personal favorite, Graae (a handmade luxe brand from Denmark. Best of the best!)
post #11 of 12
Nice writeup. I quite liked one of their boxy totes that Barney's stocked last fall, but never had the chance to examine them in person.
post #12 of 12

Price range 

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