Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.34.45

 
One of the advantages of a long-running blog, perhaps, is the ability to look back and see how purchases have performed over time. It’s particularly useful when we emphasise – as we do, day after day – the value of investing in quality. 

Here, then, are ten bags that I have bought and used over the past ten years. 

Dunhill doctors bag1. Alfred Dunhill doctor’s bag

Dunhill doesn’t make this model anymore, but it is a nice combination of canvas and leather. The canvas makes it lightweight and it hasn’t dirtied over time, as some canvases do. I can also highly recommend Dunhill’s repair service – they repaired the lining and two corners on this a few years ago. The Alfred Dunhill line used to be that made in the Walthamstow factory, and therefore hand sewn. It is now called the Tradition line.

Hermes sac a depeches2. Hermes Sac a Depeches

Beautifully hand sewn throughout, and has worn well. The design is classic yet instantly identifiable. I would say that the clasp mechanism could be improved, however, as it is always difficult to secure with one hand. It is also a shame that Hermes no longer does replacements of such clasps with brass or other yellow metals. Finally, the ‘shadow’ leather is pleasing in its individuality, but it does prevent the leather from acquiring any sort of patina.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.30.243. Filson Original Briefcase

I bought a vintage Filson ‘tin cloth’ briefcase following by interview with Gray Madden last year, and can’t recommend it highly enough. The style is much more rugged than anything else we discuss here, but it goes perfectly with non-tailoring – and even with a suit, can nicely subvert the formality of the rest of the outfit. Great heavy canvas, brass fittings and bridle leather. Good value, and an excellent repairs service.

Lotuff & Clegg  34. Frank Clegg Working Tote 

Lotuff & Clegg have unfortunately parted on acrimonious terms since I first reviewed this Working Tote, back in 2011. I am still in touch with Frank and Ian Clegg, however, and I can continue to recommend their bags. I personally prefer Frank’s simple designs like this tote and the duffle bags to the briefcases. My tote has aged very well, acquiring a subtle but definite patina.  

Bill Amberg briefcase5. Bill Amberg briefcase

Bill’s bags are cheaper than most of the other producers mentioned here, and the quality is in line with that. I have a briefcase and the ‘double truffle’ shoulder bag. I’m fond of both, and Bill’s designs, such as the Rocket Bag, are wonderfully original. I rarely use them these days, however. Unfortunately they always lose out to Dunhill, Hermes or (more recently) Filson.

J Panther ruc tote6. J Panther RucTote

I’ve always admired the ingenuity in design of the guys at J Panther – how they find three different options for bag handle positioning, for example. And the RucTote has worn very well. It is often used for commuting, carrying heavy weight, and dealing with adverse weather. If I have one criticism, it is that the ‘pull through’ handles don’t work that well – they need something to prevent them pulling on the bottom of the bag.

examiner-vintage-leather-briefcase-final7. Ghurka vintage Examiner No.5

I became acquainted with Ghurka quite recently, and really liked the look of some of their luggage, in particular the vintage pieces. We all know that our Mr Boyer is a fan too. There is quite a contrast with the Filson vintage however – Ghurka is much lighter, less structured and from my limited experience the canvas pieces such as the Examiner No.5 (left) don’t age as well. 

Troubadour suit carrier8. Troubadour suit carrier

Big fan of Troubadour, though weirdly have yet to write a post on them despite knowing the founders for a while and covering them in How to Spend It. Must correct that soon. The thing that sets Troubadour apart is the aesthetic – modern, dark, very non-traditional. Not hand sewn, but great quality materials and finishing. And the suit carrier, though heavy, is perhaps the most beautiful big piece of veg-tanned leather you will ever see.   

valextra-brown-suede-holdall-bag9. Valextra suede holdall

I’ve never liked Valextra that much – the standard finishing, although also used by other brands, always seemed quite artificial. I had my head turned by this holdall, however. Fantastically designed and great suede (although the lining is rather too obviously synthetic). The only thing that still stings me with Valextra is the prices, which it is very hard to justify for any of the pieces that aren’t hand sewn. 

Louis Vuitton Alzer painted10. Louis Vuitton Alzer briefcase 

A real love, but hopelessly impractical. Heavy, given the copious brass hardware, and with only two straps to divide up the contents: briefcase sized, but designed more like luggage. The vintage Alzer is a lovely thing, and having it hand-painted with a design taken from the Vuitton archives was special. But its role is as interior decoration – on the sideboard, filled with back copies of the New York Review of Books.

 

Top image: taken from my series on hand sewing of Hermes bags in London

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Paul

Who needs that many bags!? Nice collection though Simon. Any experience of Tanner Krolle? I wouldn’t say no to one of their pieces.

Rabster

I often wonder about the longevity of many of the items you wrote about particularly given the cost.
So this is a very useful article to convince people to pay more and buy quality.
Would be useful to know the price of each of the items .

JH

What are the shoes you’re wearing in the Hermes shot? They’re a beautiful colour to go with the pale grey suit.

Anonymous

Bown?

Rob

Another great article Simon. I need a new briefcase and am trying to decide between Troubadour (who would likely already have my money if they made their breifcase in brown) and Frank Clegg. So Please do write something on Troubadour soon.

Steve

Hi Bob,

Which briefcase did you get in the end?

Winot

I was going to ask about Bown too, as I bought their Weekender on your recommendation. Sad to here it’s no longer available – a great bag.

Can I ask if the Troubadour carries 2 suits wrinkle-free? I have an average-looking carrier which I am reluctant to ditch as it carries the suits beautifully…

Rik

Simon what kind of Filson bag have you got and what’s your view on tin cloth vs cancas?

Anon

Simon – please can you do a practical post about budgeting for luxury. Having looked at the tailors and brands on this site, you must easily spend about £50-100k a year on items – how do you plan this? Obviously you must have a good job but you don’t seem like a banker or anything. Massive inspiration.

Jerrell

A great article Simon, thanks for this. But somewhat like seeing a man in a fine overcoat, I have little hope for men adopting gorgeous bags for daily use.

Speaking for the American audience, there are two worrisome trends regarding men and bags: 1. People strangely linking sexuality to the man’s use of a bag; 2. The tyranny of the backpack. I thought it was just a West Coast techie trend, but after travelling to NYC, one sees it everywhere. Man, woman, child, doesn’t matter at all, it’s everywhere.

Anyways, Simon, how do Berluti bags stack up against Hermes?

Bradley

Hi Simon
Great article. What i cannot fathom out is why weekend bags taper as they rise to the handle. Effectively this means that when you pack and then go to close the zip, everything gets crushed together at the top of the pile. One could say pack so that this does not occur but, when going away for a weekend i like to take as much as i can! Is there a bag out there that is more box like to allow for more/better packing? Once i see what i believe is the right shape i will purchase but, it will have to be best quality within myallowed budget. One a final note, have you ever come across a shoe bag with slots/holes for packing shoes to travel with? I really would like one that holds say four shoes + proper slippers for a weekend away.
Regards

Winot

Bradley – the Tanner Krolle 1858 hold-all might suit your purposes. The smaller fits it the next size up; I have the small and medium. The medium is too large to carry comfortably when full however.

http://www.tannerkrolle.com/product-details/top-frame-holdall-small/

Ian

Where on earth do you store all these bags? Does your wife have any room for her stuff?

Anonymous

Nice selection. I’m currently looking for a new weekend bag, any thoughts on Brady?
http://www.bradybags.co.uk/shop/Holdalls/23/Captain-s-Holdall-Leather/

BespokeNYC

So do you think a canvas briefcase is OK to use with tailored clothing? I have one from La Portegna that I love (and is nice and light) but I sometimes worry it is a bit too informal paired with a suit (although it’s much less rugged than the Filson.)

Jerrell

Simon,

How do suede bags age, typically? Are they practical, or a bad long-term investment?

Jakob

Nice collection. I’m looking for a weekender at the moment, do you have any opinions on Brady (Captain’s Holdall).?

Jakob

Thanks for the reply and sorry for the duplicate post on Brady, didn’t notice it went through above.

Jerrell

Thanks for your responses Simon, I’m currently obsessing at the moment over a bag purchase. I’m most wanting a luxury shopper/tote, something that pairs well with tailoring, or can be dressed down, mostly for use when I am not carrying a briefcase. Any recommendations? Despite the big Italian fashion house misgivings (inflated price?), this Prada has caught my eye:
http://www.neimanmarcus.com/Prada-Large-Saffiano-Travel-Tote-Bag-Navy-Totes/prod174670321_cat49080752__/p.prod?icid=&searchType=EndecaDrivenCat&rte=%252Fcategory.jsp%253FitemId%253Dcat49080752%2526pageSize%253D30%2526No%253D0%2526refinements%253D&eItemId=prod174670321&cmCat=product

Jerrell

Sounds great!
I can wait – I’ve taken your mantra to heart. Be patient, save up, make fewer purchases of quality items.

Harris Reiss

i have an Examiner No 5 for sale. Used once. 700. Can deliver in Manhattan.

Greg

Simon, I really enjoy these retrospective articles. (The 3 good, 3 bad being a good example). You say here that you often end up using the Hermes, Dunhill and Filson bags and it made me wonder what are the items of clothing / shoes / accessories that you keep coming back to, (your “default” wardrobe, if you like)? I realise that you must have a huge choice and that it will depend on weather, what you happen to be doing: work / weekend etc. However, it would be interesting to know – if you were to take a minimalist approach and reduce your wardrobe to (say) 100 items what would be the items that you’d keep at all costs? Thanks!

Ksenja

Do you have any recommendations for briefcases below <$500 of good quality?

Reuven Lax

Do you have any experience with the J Panther Ruc Case? I’m trying to decide between that and a (used) Frank Clegg briefcase. I like the fact that the J Panther case can open completely flat, appears well designed. However, I can’t actually see one in person before buying…

Reuven Lax

Do you have any thoughts on the La Portegna bags, especially as compared with J Panther?

Ashish

Hi Simon

Just wondering if your Hermes briefcase is still able to stand up unaided (I.e. without toppling over) after all these years of use. One of the Hermes store reps told
me that this could be a problem after a couple of years particularly if constructed from their Togo leather. Any feedback in this regard?

Mark DeMarco

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the inspiring blog. Could I ask what type of Hermes leather and colour your Sac a Depeches is made from?

D

Out of the bags listed, what three would you say have had the most usage. I’m at the initial stage of building such collection hence want to start on pieces that give good usability/price. In particular Im interested in the tote, you mentioned you have had for 5 + years, have you found that a go to, for either formal/informal?

Carl

I have currently a J Panther Ruc Tote but are starting to think that its not smart enough to wear with a suit and my navy ulster coat. The reason for using a tote was that I would like to use it both as a business brief case and gym bag (I commute by bus). I am thinking about Frank Cleggs small travel duffle in chocolate and wonder if you think its appropriate.

Carl

Thanks,

Do you think a leather bag should have lining or not? Pros and cons?

Joel

May I ask how much your Hermes bag cost?

Jay

Simaon any recommendation for a mid-range, professional looking waterproof leather briefcase?

Anonymous

The bag will carry a laptop and legal papers, so it has to be sturdy and waterproof. Water leaks through the zip and wets the contents in my current water resistant bag.

Pat

Hi Simon,

I do not know where to post this but I think it is relevant here.

Being based in UK, I came across Frank Clegg through your review and so, I am interested in- https://frankcleggleatherworks.com/hampton-zipper-tote.html

I am thinking chestnut or chocolate…..

My question is- does the colour of the bag need to match the colour of my shoes? I’ve googled and searched all the pics of you carrying bags and it looks like you somewhat do….
Is this a ‘rule’ I should know?

Based on this, which colour do you think is better/versatile? I own mid-brown to dark brown shoes and I am planning this bag for the office as well as casual/leisure use?

Any thoughts?
Thanks

Eric

I recently ran across your 10 Bags Over 10 Years post from 2015 and was wondering if you had revised your opinions of either Lotuff or Troubadour bags over the last 3 years.

I’m currently trying to decide between three bags at different price points: the new Lotuff Triumph, the Clegg zip-top briefcase, or just going with a Troubadour fabric and leather slim briefcase.

All three seem to offer high quality bags with minimal to no visible branding. I also appreciate each company appears to be concerned with producing products in a socially responsible way.

Paul Rodriguez

Hi Simon

Do you have a view in the most versatile colour for a leather briefcase type bag? I want a really nice one but can’t initially afford more than one.

It would be for work, where I tend to wear odd jackets in navy, shades of grey, and some browns and green. I tend to wear brown shoes but sometimes black when wearing grey. Trousers are generally grey flannels or blues.

I supposed the choices are tan, dark brown, maybe navy, probably not black. I like the idea of tan eventually after aging but bit worried it will take too long!

Any views?

Paul Rodriguez

Hi Simon,

Thought I’d follow up on my original request, both thanking you for the advice (belatedly!) and letting you know how I got on. After considering La Portegna, I eventually ended up with a Frank Clegg commuter bag in chocolate. Absolutely stunning and I think great value for such a beautiful thing. The only downside is I almost daren’t use it as I’m scared of scuffing it! Still, I guess that’s the ageing process.

La Portegna are interesting – I think their quality is really good (though I’m no expert and think you somewhat disagree) but their range in men’s bags is poor from a colour point of view, and they don’t do the soft tumbled leather for men either. Also their service is typically Spanish laid back (the lady running the shop in London, also Spanish was hilariously annoyed with them). Feel they could do much better with a bit of a push.

Anonymous

Do you have a recommendation for an English maker of bridle briefcases? For example, Swaine Adeney or Pickett (or any other maker)?