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$2,000 for Briefcase

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Flyboxes, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. Flyboxes

    Flyboxes New Member

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    Recently received a Tod's Grained Leather briefcase (http://www.mrporter.com/en-us/mens/tods/grained-leather-briefcase/604098) from my wife for a birthday gift. I love the briefcase, but I need something a bit larger for a computer and my tendency for carrying a lot of files, iPad, etc.

    The Tod's was $2,000 before tax, but I'm willing to spend more to find something i like. I have a satchel style bag right now and am looking for something different. Am debating stepping up to a Berluti Deux Jours, but not sure I can stomach the $3,850 price tag.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks all!
     
  2. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Probably depends on what kind of briefcase you're looking for. I find Tod's to be really overpriced for what you're getting but it can also be just the right thing, depending on what you want.

    For bridle leather cases, you can check out any number of traditional English makers. Swaine Adeney Brigg has a really nice satchel model called the Westminster. There's also Ettinger, Tanner Krolle/ RBJ Simpson, and Glenroyal. Just note: bridle leather is a bit stiff and heavy, which again, depending on what you're looking for, may or may not be right.

    You can also use smaller makers like @casemaker. They're not as big as the heritage companies, but they do good work at much more affordable prices. I know casemaker works with bridle leather, but he may also have other materials.

    For a softer briefcase, I like Frank Clegg Leatherworks, which you can pick up through them, The Armoury, or No Man Walks Alone (the last two are located in NYC, but can take phone/ email orders). My favorite briefcase was actually made by Frank (it's his English Brief model) and I often buy his bags for Christmas gifts.

    Valextra is really overpriced, but nice. They have a model called the Premier Attache that has a very funky 1960s vibe. Probably not to people's taste here, but I like the modern design. They have other, more traditional models, if you want.

    Hermes Sac Depache is beautifully made and designed, and unlike many other high-end bags, is hand stitched. Full retail will be higher than your budget, but you can get them slightly used for $2,000. Just beware of fakes. True Hermes products are hand saddlestitched, which have slightly angled stitches (that fall in a straight row). There are a bunch of online guides for how to spot fake Hermes products, if you need. It's not that hard to spot a fake, actually, because producing one that looks even half authentic is difficult.

    Similarly, Chester Mox makes handsewn, saddle stitched, bespoke briefcases for a fraction of the cost of what you'd pay at Hermes. The leathers they use are really nice (many are the same as what's used by Hermes, in fact), and the owner of the company was trained by one of the best leatherworkers in the US.

    Filson sells a bridle leather satchel for about $750. Style is nice, and more affordable than some of the companies listed above. Just a bit more rugged in style.

    JW Hullme also does nice, rugged American styles. Much more casual than the other stuff mentioned above.

    Glaser does good work in San Francisco. Available for custom orders too.

    Ghurka is OK. They've gone through so many iterations. The the first line was great, the second iteration was less great, and the third iteration (which is where they're at now) is a mixed bag. On this third round, they've brought some of the production back to the US, which is nice. I would opt for their "vintage leathers," which aren't actually vintage, but they're nicer than the mainline stuff IMO. More expensive though. Style is again a bit more casual (old British correspondent style stuff). On my last flight, the guy next to me was carrying a really nice briefcase. I asked for the maker and it turned out to be an old Ghurka.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015
    5 people like this.
  3. Flyboxes

    Flyboxes New Member

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    Thank you very much for such a detailed response. I never expected something so helpful.

    I guess what I'm after is a nice bag that will age well. Something that is between formal and informal (Hermes bag probably too formal, but Filson (have some of their luggage and love them) probably too informal). Definitely want something with a shoulder strap.

    Would prefer to stay away from the satchel style, only because I have had a satchel for a while and am looking for something different.

    Some examples of items I like are the Ghurka browser No. 174 (http://www.ghurka.com/browser-no-174-vintage#ghurka-features) that you mentioned earlier and the Berluti Deux Jours. Love your opinion on the Berluti and whether you think it would be worth the extra $1,800. Expensive, but I love the lighter brown aged look of the leather (they have a shiny looking leather that I don't like as much).

    Hope that helps. If you have any other thoughts, I'd welcome them. You've been a great help thus far, though. Many thanks again.
     
  4. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Again, probably depends on your definition of "age well."

    If you want a leather that ages like those old, early 20th century pieces of luggage, where the leather acquires a ton of scratches, marks, and patina over a long, long period of time, then you might like bridle leather.

    If you want something that holds up well, but doesn't look that much different than the day you bought it, you might want some kind of pebbled leather with a light topcoat (people on this forum will cringe, but those kinds of leathers are really useful for certain purposes). My Frank Clegg briefcase, which was made when he was doing Lotuff & Clegg with Joe Lotuff (the two have now parted ways), is constructed from such a leather. It's been with me through several Russian and Canadian winters, but still looks great. (Frank also does other leathers, which acquire more of a patina; this tumbled leather I bought from him years ago wasn't designed to, however).

    Same with that Tod's brief you bought. It's a split leather made with a topcoat, so it's not designed to noticeablely age in the way that a bridle or untreated full grain will (see Brigg for the first; Saddleback Leather for the second). My only qualm with the leathers from Tod's is that they're a bit thin and don't have much character, even without the patination. Frank's stuff is nice and hefty, although the downside to that is his bags are a bit heavier than the Italian stuff.

    That Ghurka is nice. It looks like it was made when Marley Hodgson still owned the company. You can tell by the MH logo on the bag (there was a brief period, I think, when the company used the logo even after he sold it, but it wasn't long). It's an actual vintage bag though, so just be aware that you're buying a second hand item. Other second hand Ghurkas can be had for less on eBay, but what you save in money, you'll spend in time.

    For that kind of in-between style, I would go for either a Frank Clegg briefcase or a Ghurka (either vintage or one of the new models using their "vintage" leathers). You get more bang for your buck with Frank, but he makes very different looking bags than Ghurka.

    Not crazy about the Berluti, especially their stuff with faux patination. Just seems tacky to me, but to each his own.

    @rach2jlc probably has other good recommendations. He knows a lot about bags.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015
    3 people like this.
  5. chizhang001001

    chizhang001001 Well-Known Member

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    that tod's briefcase's handles are way too long, long enough to be a girls shoulder bag
     
  6. Flyboxes

    Flyboxes New Member

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  7. romafan

    romafan Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
  8. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    A lot of those uber-high-end, luxury Italian companies are overpriced for what you're getting. You're mostly paying for the luxury image and design, but so long as you know that, I think they can be good. Those sorts of bags work if you're wearing the sort of casualwear you find at Loro Piana or something.

    For something similar, but at a much more reasonable price point, you can check out Tramontano, Serapian, and Calabrese. Want Les Essentiels sells stuff that's kind of similar -- the sort of bags for guys who wear dressy, slightly tailored looking casualwear. Il Bisonte is a step further towards the casual direction, but they might have something that works for you.

    I think No Man Walks Alone has Calabrese bags. Serapian is at Barneys. Want Les is almost everywhere. Il Bisonte I've only seen in Europe, but you may be able to order online. Same with Tramontano.
     
    2 people like this.
  9. bry2000

    bry2000 Well-Known Member

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    Dieworkwear did a great job summarizing many different options. There are a lot of directions you can go. My sense is if you are attracted to the Tod's piece or something from Berluti, you are likely more interested in something more "designer-y" or more conspicuously luxurious. A number of Dieworkwear's suggestions may be better values or better makes, but more subdued or traditional in style.

    If I were looking for a high end case that is luxurious, not ostentatious (like branded LV), well made and in your general price range (say $2K to $4K), I would hands down go for Bottega Veneta.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Flyboxes

    Flyboxes New Member

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    After much consternation, I think I am going to go with this Frank Clegg - http://frankcleggleatherworks.com/zip-top-briefcase-harness-belting-leather.html

    I was not looking for something too formal, so while there were a number of other briefcases that I liked, I was worried that they were too formal and they would have looked out of place in my everyday commute and attire, which is fairly business casual. I was still leaning to the Berluti Duex Jours (some of their less shiny leather is a good mix between casual and formal), but I really didn't think the reward was worth the almost $4,000 risk.

    In the end, I think I am going to be very happy with the Clegg. Like that I can get a monogram on it as well. Great looking bag.

    Thanks all for the help - especially Dieworkwear. Really appreciate it.
     
  11. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    I think that's a great choice. Seriously, the briefcase I bought from him is great.

    If you have a question about his different leathers, you can give him a call. He and his team make everything in their workshop, and they're straight shooters. So if you're looking for something that will acquire a patina, he can tell you if X leather will be good. If you're looking for something that won't noticeably age as much, he can recommend Y. He has a range of leathers, so you may be able to choose something besides belting.

    The other option is to buy a ready-made bag from No Man Walks Alone or The Armoury. I don't know if Frank offers returns on custom items, but if you order from his stockists, you can return the item if you don't like it. They may have that model.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  12. Thanks SF (a new me)

    Thanks SF (a new me) Well-Known Member

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    As D noted, you made a great choice. Frank (sons Adam/Ian) is a blast to work with. They are passionate of what they do. I have 2 of his pieces and extremely satisfied. When my wife was looking for a tote bag, it took me awhile to convince her to give Clegg a shot as she was so fixated with LV and other brand shit.
    The rest is history once she received the finished product, monogrammed and some custom details. Such a unique piece that her friends has been asking. I told her never. Lol.
    She actually ordered another one in a diff color and wants more...Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  13. jonathanS

    jonathanS Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone suggested Briggs?
     
  14. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it was mentioned in DWW's first thread post, 2nd paragraph...
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  15. woolymammoth

    woolymammoth Well-Known Member

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    Cannot imagine there is something less designer-y or less conspicuously luxurious then this; the only branding I think is on the zipper-pull which no one is ever going to notice.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. bry2000

    bry2000 Well-Known Member

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    Glad he is going with the Clegg and not that one.
     
  17. Dandy Wonka

    Dandy Wonka Well-Known Member

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    I have the Berluti Deux Jours. Love it. Did't realise it was that much.

    BTW, I also have a Berluti Scientifique. It's bigger and more distinctive. I always get good comments from people when I use it.
     

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