Hi, I actually have the weekender of Isaara. Found it earlier this year online and have done a few trips with it in the last few months. I'm very happy with it so far. My only other leather bags are the Linjer ones, so my collection is small and my knowledge about leather is limited.
But the Isaara one works well for me. Fits well into the overhead bin of the airplane, has enough pockets and space to hold my stuff and has a nice leather. Overall quality is good and nothing broke etc. Only downside for me is that the shoulder strap could be a little bit wider. The owner Rosh is helpful and friendly as well and she is involved with social programs to help the community. For anyone interested in their campaign, I can recommend them and I'm sure they will send out something nice.
We have learnt a lot from Part 1 and 2 of this amzingly insightful thread.
We also just went LIVE on Indiegogo with our first product: The Personalized Soft Briefcase which allows you to personalize the design and finish of the bag to suit your needs and taste. You can check out our campaign at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/personalized-soft-leather-briefcase-by-rockdove-design-style--2/x/14765785#/
We would love for you to join the conversation on our affiliate thread: http://www.styleforum.net/t/530636/personalized-leather-briefcase-by-rockdove-official-affiliate-thread
Would love to hear your thoughts!
I think I can help, nothing is impossible ;-).
I took the time to read through this thread, and see if I'd be contributing anything new - and I think I might be.
I definitely don't have the expertise that @rach2jlc does with seasonal change in brands, but I think that my expertise as a craftsman may contribute to the body of knowledge offered here in this thread. From what I read previously, that seems to be what the intention of this thread was, and I feel that much of the information below will not change with the seasons. It should serve as a reference for you to help judge a brand's current quality by yourself.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Full disclosure, (as if the red "Affiliate Vendor" label doesn't mark me as biased),
I sell my work and I do so to make a living. My bias will always be somewhat in line with what has already been said, especially regarding custom manufacturing, and Hermès being the pinnacle of craftsmanship in leather bag making.
This also means that I have educated myself, and been educated by several amazing mentors, that I feel are some of the best craftspeople around today. I am by no means some sort of whiz-kid prodigy, but I have deliberately and consistently dug for information on bag making and leather craft in general for the better part of 5 years through other makers, brand exhibitions, french textbooks, suppliers, and friends in the industry. As such, I feel that I have a firm grasp on what is defined, and what is subjective about quality in (leather) bag-making, to an extent.
My limitations are: that I don't care to know about anything less than the best, and I immediately disregard things that aren't made from leather - for no other reason than that I'm not interested in it myself. I can, however, admire the genius of many of Tumi's products and the thought and care that goes into designing them to be so functional. I can also find the genius in many of the minimally-designed bags, and other bags that are really great options for what they are. I'm just not knowledgable about their brands or their techniques, or if they price well or not.
I don't really know where to start, so I'm going to jump right in:
The whole "Well-Made" thing:
Many will never buy a hand stitched bag, partly because I seem to find that many people don't really know what this means. Perhaps I've misjudged the knowledge base that this community has, but I failed to see an explicit, detailed explanation of quality craftsmanship, which I feel can be dangerous from a consumer's standpoint. I think that this type of situation has left a void in our thread where quality could somewhat be 'subjective,' when, in reality, there are a few basic tenets that are easily identified, and extremely important. There are also some common-sense answers that I'd like to solidify that have been previously brought up in somewhat contextual conversation, but haven't been defined.
That's all I'm going to cover tonight, but I'll continue to add if anyone finds this useful.