Hi Simon,


I’ve been following Permanent Style for a while now, as well as investing significantly more of my time trying to learn more about menswear.

As my style has evolved and I find myself wearing a blazer or sportcoat more often, I’m really struggling with bags. As a postgraduate student, I lug around a laptop and lunch everyday, and apart from looking bad, I really worry about the backpack pulling on the shoulders of my jackets and damaging them.

I wondered if you had any recommendations for leather briefcases? Searching around your site I have spotted a few I like the look of, however, I think that £800+ is more than I want to spend on a bag at the moment. I’m looking to spend up to about £500 and I wondered if there were any go-to brands for this slightly lower price bracket?

On a somewhat related note – what kind of frame of mind do you approach buying clothes and accessories with? As I get a bit older (I’m 22) I find it increasingly unsatisfying and untrue to say “I can’t afford things”, but find it equally frustrating to admit that I’m just not prepared to pay enough to buy a Dunhill bag or a Brioni blazer! I just wondered if you could share any thoughts or wisdom about this problem, silly as it is.

Thanks for your time, and all the best.

David Beckingsale

 

Hi David,

Men generally don’t spend enough on bags, in the same way as they rarely spend enough on shoes. Both can make an outfit on their own; both look better with age; both repay investment over a long period of time; and you only need a small number of them – probably just two bags in your lifetime: a day bag and a weekender.

That said, £500 is still a lot of money and a good amount to spend on a bag. Most of the bags I talk about are real luxury items, from Hermès, Bown or Tanner Krolle. The thing that sets them apart is the hand-sewing of all the seams. Like the sole on a bespoke shoe, this will make them last longer. But you pay a disproportionate amount for that work.

So the first way to save money is to buy machine-sewn bags. Dunhill, for example, has its Tradition line, which is hand-sewn in London. But it also has a much cheaper line which is not. The Single Zip Bourdon briefcase is beautiful and only a little more than you were planning to spend at £595.

The other way to save money is to introduce a material other than leather. Dunhill’s Saltaire range, for example, is mostly canvas with leather trims. I’m a big fan of J Panther Luggage – their Ruc Tote is very versatile. And Bill Amberg makes some great machine-sewn bags: there is a version of the Jag in leather and cordura, or one at £495 that mixes in perforated leather.

To your last point, what you can afford all depends on what period of time you apply. I tend to save up for a big purchase for 2-5 months, pay for half of it with that money, and use a credit card for the rest (which I will pay off over another 2-5 months). In a consumer culture like ours, the hard thing is often not saving money to buy something, but going for years after that without any retail hit. Master that, and you’re halfway there.

Simon



Subscribe
Notify of
guest
26 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anonymous

I don’t think canvas or any non-leather material ages with the same grace as leather. I would personally save up a bit longer or simply get a “cheaper” leather bag, which of course demands some extra pre-purchase research.

/Håkan, Sweden

Unknown

Don’t misunderstand “hand-sewing”. Marketing is always here. Even in Hermès, “hand-sewing” is “machine-sewn by a person” in the case of long, straight seams. Only finishes, stops, technical assemblies and few things are really “hand-sewn” (clamp, saddle stitch). Hermes belts (reversible) are machine-sewn for example. I know about it, trust me! But very well machine-sewn regarding other brands.
You also have to consider the leather quality and the “inside” that nobody can see. A lot of know-how to strengthen, rigidify, structure that give the smartness.
Last but not least the quality of buckles, fasteners, zippers… (metal+high quality coatings) that last very long.
And : Designed to be repaired!

Anonymous

I have had good success with Ebay for vintage leather goods. Found a slim, tan Coach briefcase, mid 80s, very little wear for $60.

Anonymous

Dear David
May i give you sone advice from someone, like you, who knows little about clothes/luggage but, loves quality.
I purchased a bridal leather bag some years ago from a wonderful shop in London called Fox’s, now closed. I was lucky enough to get a great discount as they were closing down but, despite this in my mind what i really wanted was a bag from Swaine and Adney. Whilst i am delighted with the bag which will last for ever (i hope) and, which i receive many, many compliments about it, i regret the purchase and wish i had saved my money a little longer to get what i really wanted.
It is just as Simon says, buy top quality and it will last forever and more importantly, will give you great satisfaction every time you use it.
I would also like to mention that in the world that we now live, luxury items are extremely over-priced for what they are (in this case they are simply just leather after all) but, we at their mercy when we need to purchase such items and there lays the problem.
Think carefully
Good luck
Bradley

Boris

Hi Simon,

One brand that I think is fantastic value for money is Mannequin, from Korea.

They are distributed in Paris by Marc Guyot and by DEC.32ND in Seoul.

Their website gives a good idea of their range (it’s mostly in Korean, unfortunately).

http://www.m-quin.com/

I have a navy blue canvas tote bag with tan leather handles, and a dark grey leather briefcase from them, and can attest that the quality is of the highest order.

Josh

David, have a look at Pratesi and Tusting online.

J

Hi Simon,
As an interview briefcase/investment piece, would you recommend getting a Dunhill Tradition Single Document briefcase, a Dunhill Tradition Double Document briefcase, a Swaine Adeney Whitehall, or a J. Panther Courier Ruc Case? Which color would you recommend? Is the courier ruc case hand stitched, and have the same quality of construction as the other three?
Thank you.

Matt

Hi Simon, great post.

What would you advise, for someone on the sort of budget discussed here (say £600 or so), between buying a second hand leather work bag that has had a bit of damage and scratching from a superior make (Swaine or Ettinger maybe), versus buying something new from a cheaper brand?

Stephen

Do you rate tustings or sage brown?

Pedro Mata

Hi David,
Can I recommend a Portugues brand, great value for money.
http://www.martaponti.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=157_169&product_id=460
All the best,
Pedro Mata
P.S.Great site Simon!

Anonymous

I think saving up is a good point, though it takes a lot of discipline. What’s the item you’ve ever saved up for the longest for Simon? Was it a coat? It’s kind of touching to read your 2009 articles and remember that you also had to be conservative with money at some point. Do you prefer the sort of freedom you have now to buy clothes over your life before?

This is my perspective on budgeting for clothes. https://shoesavante.com/2019/09/02/buying-quality-on-a-budget/

Do you have any points to add or disagree with? I think the key point is saving and waiting…

Aaron Daniels

Hi Simon,

I’m now in a position of wearing a suit to work and I’d like a briefcase, same question as reader essentially: one in £500-600 mark. The Bourdon doesn’t seem to be available anymore from what I can see?

Also I am currently wearing an awful, cheap polyester suit. Are there any MTM brands you’d recommend with half canvassing around £500, preferably one where I can choose heavier fabrics? I looked at Suitsupply’s selection and they all seem to be 6-9oz rather than 11-13, I’ve also heard even their MTM doesn’t fit people with slightly broader torsos and thicker thighs/calves.

Aaron Daniels

Hi Simon,

Okay thank you, I shall check them out. Do you have any thoughts re Linjer, and then in terms of style zip-top vs fold-over with buckles? I’m a paralegal and I am worried the buckles might make it too ‘flashy’.

Hi Martins,
Thank you – I haven’t tried yet (still got a bit more weight to lose first, plus lockdown…). A big fear for me is that the legs will be too slim, my calves have a circumference of 19cm!

Martins

Hmm… My calves has 46cm circumference and I have not had a problem…
I have just tried on a suitsupply jacket, but I have paid for 5 trousers and 2 shoes since Black Friday with yeossal, and they have been pretty accomodating. Granted, quality and fit is not bespoke level, but if you are on the budget, for me they have been great!

Martins

Have you tried suitsupply on in person? I’m a “you can tell I’m going to gym but you also can tell that when someone offers me a cookie I never say no” guy and suitsupply Havana jacket was very reasonable fit!
Than there is luxire…
I love yeossal stuff!
Only downside with online mtm is, to get a good results, you have to be able to wear their rtw stuff with one or 2 big changes..

John Jarvis

Might be worth trying Roderick Charles? Never bought a suit through them I’m afraid but they do MTM at that price point. I’ve got a raincoat from them I like a lot and know some people I work with wear their suits.

A.R

Hi Simon,

I was wondering if you could break down pros and cons of two high end briefcases like the hermes sac a depeches 41 and the tradition line dunhill briefcase (now heritage line). Both seem to be excellent bags so not necessarily looking for which is better than the other but rather the benefits or special things about each. And whether one would be suited for one situation or another. Ultimately, I am trying to decide between both of the bags, but I’m trying to steer away from this one is better than that and more towards learning more about both to make a more informed decision.

Any help and information is greatly appreciated.

Regards

A.R.

AR

Hi Simon,

Yes, apologies I should have been more specific. I am referring to the heritage slime briefcase. I think it’s dunhills “top of the line” briefcase and I thought I had read that it was mostly or completely hand-sewn.

Thanks
AR