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REVIEW -- JP Marcellino Briefcase

Craig Margolis

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While a frequent reader -- this is my first posting -- but thought I would chime in with a review of a newly minted briefcase that was made for me by Joe Marcellino in his workshop in New York. I am a fan of leather briefcases and have long had and very much enjoy a piece from Saddleback Leather Co. While it is rugged and has looked and worn fabulously, I was in the market for something a bit lighter and more refined in the style of a traditional bridle leather English briefcase. However, being in Washington, DC with only occasional business trips to the UK, I thought it was prudent to canvass potential makers in the US rather than rely solely on English makers -- which led me to Joe Marcellino. As I understand it, Joe makes his pieces to order by hand in his own workshop. He has a fabulous website (www.jpmarcellino.com) where he displays his pieces. Also, importantly, he offers many options for customization, which leads me to the bag that he made for me.

It is a custom variant of the Dalton small bag (shown on website here: http://www.jpmarcellino.com/collections/classic-key-lock-leather-briefcases/products/john-dalton-maple-brown-calf-lining?variant=1131000455). The bag as shown is in a smaller size. I asked him to increase to a full size bag (I am an attorney and need to be able to carry legal-sized papers), to keep the bag color solely to "London Tan," to change the liner from calfskin to suede, and to do a few custom additions (newspaper pocket, pen pocket on inside).

The process could not have been easier. I reached out by email to Joe who worked with me on refining the order, which he then set up as "custom" in the ordering system. I received the bag earlier than expected, and Joe gave me a heads up on the shipment before it left so I knew to expect it. From order to receipt only took two weeks (which I consider to have been extremely fast for a custom order).

The bag itself feels, looks, and smells fantastic. Bridle leather on the outside, soft suede on the inside. I was unused to a English key lock, so it took me a few tries to get the use of the lock down, but believe I have it now. There are helpful videos on Joe's site on the proper use.

Obviously can't yet tell you how the bag will hold up or wear with time, but from first impressions, it appears to be a great, refined bag and a terrific value -- particularly as compared to the English makers.

Here are a few photos. Not professional, to be sure, but I have tried to capture from several angles. I was looking for a lighter, single gusset bag, but there are as likely as many different options and styles as you have the imagination to dream up.

Hope this is helpful to the members and glad I was able to contribute. Craig

Here is a helpful storage sack that comes with the bag

A view of the bag from the front. Personal preference, but I was happy to see an absence of logos or the like.

This is a view of the side and back, showing the newspaper pocket



Here are a couple of photos of the inside, showing the suede liner and the only makers mark on the bag -- a discreet imprint on the inside flap.
 

JP Marcellino

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That suede is not as purple as it is coming out so i will include some of my photos I took of the suede under bright white light which brings out the natural brown / tan of the suede. This new style is called the Kolob 1125 leather briefcase and yes it comes from that Dalton small size. What can you say about this Italian calf suede, i love it. I've been doing a lot of it lately. And i don't mind hiding my logo, just ask, I find some people want it and some don't, either way its always been my NY style that separates me from everyone.

thanks
craig
































If you really like suede here is another new style in Navy blue bridle leather and a deep black suede
Taylor Series 2390













 

JP Marcellino

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ha ha, I've had some practice. If you look through some of my oldest pics on this forum you would see some bad photos, especially the hardest ones to take in the workshop.

Your pics actually came out really nice, they represent the London Tan good, its just that the yellow in the office lights was making the tan suede purplish, but this is a good way for people to see that certain colors slightly change under different lights.
 

tom2koizumi

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lovely, i should have had my last briefcase JP made for me lined in suede. Joe what do you prefer?
 

JP Marcellino

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this is a good question that i do get asked all the time. Remember these are my impressions from a maker and as a small business man that uses a briefcase usually wearing jeans and carrying it mainly to meetings. Different people have different experiences

when i bring out my suede lined briefcase, especially with the lighter colors it draws attention anytime i open the bag, especially with the smell. Since this is veg tan that smell we all love of real leather stays with it a long time. So it grabs attention with many senses and it feels great. Suede has a very unique feel, maybe you can say it is like velvet, but suede is leather so it has that sweet smell and forms a patina with wear. With all that it is a delicate material, not in the sense it cant handle constant rubbing, this usually makes the fibers stronger, but if you get ink on it or liquid it stains and sure you are able to touch it up with dye, but you can't rub it down with conditioner. Best way to clean it is use a soft toothbrush and go lightly with the grain or get a can of air spray and blow it out.

so what do i prefer?

if i want to impress someone, suede lined all the way.

if i want to impress someone and i want to use it almost like a workhorse leather lined all the way - i usually use a veg tan calf lining, same stuff they line shoes, but it's leather and it has its things like creasing, which doesn't bother me but its not as uniform as suede.

If i want an absolute tank or workhorse and still be upscale and refined i would go with the smooth matted down natural bridle leather lining. its tight and waxed, easy to clean, water is not a problem and also patinas very well with the bag, but it is not as nice as suede or calf but on the other hand it is much better and refined looking than the softer leathers that have a pelt.

I've been working with Italian calf saffiano leather lately making some soft leather bags. this is some nice soft durable stuff and i think would also make a nice lining for a briefcase.



 

tom2koizumi

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this might be a stupid question but what are my option if i wanted to line my briefcase in suede?
 

payj

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Sweet briefcase Craig. The blue one joe posted is mine. I got it about three weeks ago. Will be putting up my impressions soon......It is A1 all the way
 
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JP Marcellino

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Now that is a miracle I don't think I can preform. The suede lining is not simply just dropped into the case, it is part of the case. I would need to take it apart almost completely to line it. It would be easier to just built one from scratch.
 

payj

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My comment is in reference if built from scratch. When he said "my" I assumed his when he ordered it, not an already existing one. I misunderstood the question.
 

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