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Briefcase porn thread

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by zjpj83, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. Nikola

    Nikola Well-Known Member

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    I'm a bit confused as where to burn my money and I definitely need to make up my mind soon.

    I got 2 options.

    R. Clark, which claims the usage of Bridle Butt 4mm thick leather - https://www.etsy.com/shop/RFClarkBriefcase - $860 including the shoulder strap.

    and the Dariusz Niestroj - https://www.instagram.com/niestrojleatherworks/ which upon contacting him regarding the briefcase like in the first photo of his instagram profile (style with straps) didn't mention the type of leather he's using except it's the Sedgwick Australian nut .. Later he advised me it's the shoulder portion of the leather which is only about 3.0 mm thick and obviously not so good as a butt. He's asking $820 including the shoulder strap.

    His price for a butt 4mm leather would be $1,350.

    The prices are almost equal though the leather used in the process obviously is not. I was expecting the Dariusz work would be a bit cheaper actually considering the inferior leather he's using, but my question is - how does a butt compare to shoulder and would you go with R. Clark butt leather or Dariusz shoulder leather for the almost same price?
     
  2. AndersenLeather

    AndersenLeather New Member

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    Another thing to take into consideration is the fact that Niestroj sew everything by hand. R.Clark does not - he only sews the handle and the straps.

    Regarding the leather - yes butt is the "better" leather but the shoulder is still really really good. The 4 mm butt only makes the bag heavier and a bit more stiff. 3 mm is still very stiff but with less weight.

    I make the same style of bags as the R. Clark and Niestroj and would recommend the bag from Niestroj.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. raindog

    raindog Well-Known Member

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    Well, I'm definitely not impartial here, because apart from being friends with Darek I have two briefcases made by him, but hand stitching is what justifies the price, that's for sure. I know for a fact (we spoke everyday when he was making my briefcases) that Darek needs at least a week (ca. 40 h of work) to make a briefcase.
     
  4. letsi

    letsi Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if Ray still does MTO but you could email him or message him on Etsy and he would give you an update. Hand stitching and Sedgwick bridle butt definitely comes with a premium, you could see from past replies here that Simon (casemaker) charges up to USD4k and beyond for his briefcases and the wait list is couple of years but that comes with the fact that his hand stitch work is worth a premium at the SPI he's doing as well as he only uses the best bridle butt out there in the market. Also, not all hand stitching are of equal standard since it all depends on the craftsman experience, time and effort and for some, sometimes the hand stitch work looks so poor that going machine stitch might yield better work. I've never purchased anything from Niestroj before but his hand stitch work judging by the photos taken on his instagram seem decent? https://www.instagram.com/p/BE1plComkUm/ But if you compare it with Simon's below (can't find any closer close-up pic), you can see the awl work and the saddle stitch has a pronounced zig-zag pattern which is generally regarded as desirable in saddle stitching work. http://cdn.styleforum.net/8/84/900x900px-LL-84f64316_IMG_1963.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  5. Nikola

    Nikola Well-Known Member

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    @letsi Thanks man! I have contacted the Ray regarding the quoted SAB briefcase and he was very polite, but told me he's not doing the SAB copies [​IMG], though his grantchester is pretty much same as SAB's Westminster ..

    I really love the Niestroj's briefcase, yet I am not certain if I should go straight away for a 4mm Bridle butt and pay the $1.3K or to just convince myself I am happy with a more modest shoulder leather version of about $800 .. Also, not sure if that one extra mm and butt leather is worth the additional 500 bucks. I thought the difference in acquiring the butt leather is less than those 500$ price difference. Labor is a labor anyway,no matter butt or shoulder so it shouldn't be the one raising the price .. So I am not sure why such a big surcharge from shoulder to butt? Or I am missing something?

    This is the style I would go for from Njestroj's with a smaller modification. I would choose the lock in the second photo and no stitching around it, so It would be more similar to the SAB's Paternoster ..



    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    The Role model:
    __________________________________________________________________



    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  6. letsi

    letsi Well-Known Member

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    DIdn't help much but you're welcome :) Ray had some IP issues previously when someone unscrupulously bought and sold batches of his briefcase rebranded as SAB badge stitched on afterwards without his knowledge so that's the reason why he has to be very upfront that he's not selling SAB clones/fakes. Inspired perhaps but they are not meant to be SAB bags. Regarding the heavy upcharge of bridle butt vs shoulder & etc, I can't speak for Niestroj but based on the previous work I have with other makers. They have a preferred leather type that they work with and hence have existing stock that they can draw from or bulk purchase from with bulk discount. If it's something special/not available to him, he would probably have to source for that and might be left with a surplus of stock since they have to buy it in meters and he's also at the mercy of the leather distributor's pricing. Using their preferred leather generally leads to a cheaper final price since they could partition and cut the leather based on the most efficient format for them to fully utilize their leather stock for all their customers that they have, reducing wastage and improving the overall cost efficiency. Sourcing for preferred locks might be a challenge and could incur additional costs as well since they normally buy their locks in bulk as well and would have to put in a separate order if they do not carry the lock currently. It's just something we customers don't think about that leather work makers have to consider very thoroughly :embar:
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
    2 people like this.
  7. raindog

    raindog Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's not uncommon that craftsmen charge proportionally more for working with more expensive material (especially in the watch industry). The explanation behind it (we may believe it or not, and out position may vary depending on whether we are a maker or a buyer) is that the price of labor includes 'insurance' for the material (there is always a risk that a craftsman makes a mistake or accidentally damages the material, in which case he has to buy it anew at his own expense).

    I'm not saying that's fair, I'm just saying what their logic is.
     
  8. Nikola

    Nikola Well-Known Member

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    I have experienced the same thing with my car actually when I went for a tyre alignment if that something that could be compared ..

    For example - the price for a 14" tire alignment was like $15. My car has the 19" rims and the price was $25 for the same thing.. Strange and unfair .. The labor and process he uses for alignment is same as with 14" and 19", yet I had a feeling he's surcharging for the bigger rims only because he knew he can grab some more money ..
     
  9. raindog

    raindog Well-Known Member

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    That, too. Or online shops charge you more if you log in with a Mac.

    Having said that, I think it's not exactly the same thing. When I imagine myself as a case maker, I would definitely charge more for my labour on unicorn leather, than on an ordinary Sedgwick :).
     
  10. trlhtn

    trlhtn Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  11. trlhtn

    trlhtn Well-Known Member

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    Here's another pic of the bag [​IMG]
     
  12. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Well-Known Member

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    It should be emphasised Simon is stitching at approaching twice the stitch count here, so twice as much time and thread, give or take a bit. Different level of attention to detail..
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. Jr Mouse

    Jr Mouse Well-Known Member

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    I think it's important to keep in mind that hand stitching is itself not always going to yield superior construction. There are makers who hand stitch leather goods with sub-pair craftsmanship and machine stitching can yield really good results. This is of course not directed at anyone mentioned recently in this thread, but I think it's important to keep in mind when comparing makers. By default, hand stitching is not always worth spending more on.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  14. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Well-Known Member

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    Thats true, but if your comparing professionally made work, the companies (not hobbyists or bedroom based companies) who hand stitch are going to be on top of their game and are doing it because they're good at it and because they're going the extra mile. Sewing machines are trivially cheap compared to the cost of skilled labour, its a very good guide to the amount of time a company is putting into a product. Just as a simple example, fully machine stitching a belt might take 10 mins, fully handstitching might take 3 or 4 hours. Big difference in the time and thus care investment..
     
    3 people like this.
  15. raindog

    raindog Well-Known Member

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    I really enjoy this exchange, it's very informative.
    I don't mean to disagree or to dissent in any way, but I'd like to know your opinion on my opinion :).

    Personally, I'm very happy with the quality of stitching in Darek's bags. They are definitely superior to anything I've ever had (but I haven't had any high quality, hand-stitched leather items). Also, aesthetically it's rather pleasing. Here is a close-up of a stitching on my recent acquisition (I know this same picture has already been posted, and if you find it inappropriate or a waste of space, I'll delete it from this post):

    [​IMG]

    Now, I know from the maker himself that the density of this stitching is five stitches per inch. This is his 'default' stitching and as far as both aesthetics and durability go, I'm happy with this. However, Darek also mentioned that for some extra $*, he can use a denser stitching - 7 or 9 stitches per inch (I think 9 is his limit now). Here is an example of one of his work with 7 spi:

    [​IMG]

    Arguably, it does look nicer on a close-up picture, but I have never seriously considered paying extra for better stitching. Why? Because I don't think it will increase the durability of the bag (quite the contrary, denser stitching means more holes, and for a layman like me more holes means less durability :D).

    What do you think? Should I have paid for some extra stitching, is it worth it? Also, how do you (I'm addressing the professionals here) judge the quality of Darek's stitching?

    *I have no idea how much exactly is 'some extra $' - you'd have to ask Darek directly, or I can ask on your behalf, if anyone's interested.
     
  16. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Well-Known Member

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    His stitching looks nice. The angle and uniformity are good and the reverse side (from what can be seen) is good. In part the SPI used for a product is an aesthetic choice, and traditionally (in Europe) 5spi would be used only for rough/heavy work, 8spi for everyday run of the mill work emphasising strength, 10spi is usual and 12spi is for fine work. Theres certainly room for manover within this (and I manover within it based on aesthetic) and the school of work and the location of the craftsman will determine what he considers normal, as will the amount of time he's prepared to put into something, the leather and thickness used and the price being paid. To my way of thinking his 7spi work is much nicer than the 5spi, but I stitch at a minimum of 8, and more often at 10 or 12 so thats what my eye is trained towards and is my own bias. In terms of durability, I think the weight of thread is more important than pitch, all things being equal. Seams should always be along the edge, not across a strap and so the holes shouldn't be a weakness, and while 12spi wouldnt be at all appropriate for the top of that briefcase 5, 8 or 10 should all be fine given sensible thread, and personally I would go for 8. Ive never seen a case where the stitching has physically torn like a stamp, done right either the thread will eventually rot or wear if the item in question is subject to very heavy use, weather, damp or poor care or the leather will phsically break elsewhere before the stitch marks cause a problem Much more to it than this, but hopefully a brief answer! Charlie
     
    3 people like this.
  17. raindog

    raindog Well-Known Member

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    Very helpful and informative indeed, thank you Charlie!

    I wonder if the standards you mentioned apply to briefcases and to smaller items (belts, straps, wallets...) equally?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016
  18. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Well-Known Member

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    Good!

    Yes, that was quite a generic answer rather than briefcase specific. Wallets/watch straps should be 10 or 12 spi, belts and briefcases 8 or 10spi, by the European school at least. A 12 spi belt wouldnt generally be correct (though quite an impressive amount of stiching) and an 8 spi wallet also wouldnt be correct, though in the right circumstances both could be done. Its all about the right aesthetic and the right design with the right materials

    Charlie
     
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  19. letsi

    letsi Well-Known Member

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    Glad to hear further clarifications with regards to the SPI that I have mentioned and how it affects "perceived quality".
    I myself wouldn't be able to articulate them as well as Charlie did and I learnt new stuff that I didn't know too. Great discussion going on here :nodding:
     
  20. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Well-Known Member

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    Pleased to help! I love hand stitching so this is one of my favorite subjects.

    Not briefcases, but for reference

    8spi in Bridle leather (Belt)

    [​IMG]

    10 spi in Ostrich (Travel Bag)

    [​IMG]

    12 spi in Calf (Wallet Pockets)

    [​IMG]

    10spi could have been used for all of them, but aesthetically theres a big difference in the subtelty of the look created by the different choices, IMHO anyway

    Charlie
     
    3 people like this.

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