Introducing: The nubuck tote

Wednesday, September 9th 2020
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*Please purchase through the Frank Clegg website. They have all stock of both the black and brown versions of the bag*

The idea behind the PS Shop is to produce occasional pieces of menswear that I love, but can’t find elsewhere. 

There is no aim of becoming a full brand, or filling out categories: I will not be selling suits or shoes anytime soon. 

If I have a choice of what I do for a living, I would rather be a writer than a shopkeeper. 

But it is really fun to develop beautiful products occasionally, to make them part of how I dress and if suitable, make small runs for readers. It’s like trying a beautiful tweed, making a jacket in it, and spreading the word to everyone you know.

This is pretty much how things worked out with this nubuck tote bag, made by Frank Clegg

I fell in love with the leather when I visited the Clegg factory in Massachusetts, at the end of 2018. 

The full skin was draped across a cutting table, halfway down the room. I instinctively picked it up, rolled it between my fingers. It felt like the softest suede, but without the delicacy of calf. It had real, meaty body.

Frank, Ian, Andrew and I spent a good half hour leaning on that table talking about the skin - as pictured below. I’m pleased I look as enthusiastic as I felt. 

I kindly asked if it was possible to make a tote bag out of the leather. Apparently it was, so we went through some details - basically, the same as the existing Tall Tote that Clegg makes, just with additional pockets. I knew that model, and how well it would work for me.

I received the bag three weeks later, and have used it consistently for the 18 months since. 

I’m no leather expert. My eye is that of a consumer, not a craftsman. So sometimes I worry that the decisions I make will turn out to be foolish. That’s certainly happened with the occasional bespoke commission. 

Fortunately, that was not the case here. Over those 18 months the tote has more than lived up to expectations. I love using it, I get regular compliments on it, and I think I’d be happy if it were the only bag I owned. 

There is no better material for an unlined bag, for my style and preferences, than this nubuck bullskin. 

As alluded to earlier, the thing I like most is the contrast between the soft surface and the thick, strong body. It also has a wonderful depth of the colour, and its rich, dark brown goes with everything, from workwear to worsteds. 

In fact, I’m not sure how it does that. I guess because it’s so dark, and subtle. The style might be too casual for some suit wearers, but the material certainly isn’t. 

The leather is also - helpfully, and surprisingly - water and oil resistant, and almost impervious to stains. 

It’s made by Remy Carriat, a family-owned French tannery. 

The nubuck, which they call Gochoki, is made from a young bull leather. It has a grain applied, which is buffed to give it that silky suede finish. But it’s also given a 3M treatment during the tanning process, which makes it water and oil-resistant. 

I can attest to the effectiveness of that treatment after my months of use. Despite carrying it at least once a week, in rain and shine, there are no marks on it anywhere - other than the darkening on the handles you get from your hands. 

Because the leather is so nice, we doubled it up so it's on the inside of the bag as well, which means you get the feeling of it when you reach in to grab the contents. The two pockets (one on each side) are also made out of the bullskin. 

The thickness of the leather makes it a little heavier than other totes, but the fact it doesn’t have any internal structure saves a little weight too. I certainly don’t notice the weight, unless the bag is stuffed with weighty items - and then anything would be heavy. 

The only thing it isn’t so practical for is carrying a computer, as there is no separate compartment. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t carry one in there - you just might want to have it in a separate case.

The design and dimensions, as mentioned, are the same as the Tall Tote from Clegg, which you can see here

The only design change we made was to put in two pockets, one zipped (shown above) and one open, to make it easier to carry a phone, keys and other smaller items. Personally, it’s something I feel any unlined tote needs - I hate rooting around at the bottom for things. 

The zips are solid brass, as on all Clegg hardware. 

The bags are available now, as usual, on the Permanent Style shop, and cost £730 + VAT. 

One thing we’ve done differently with stock, this time, is that Clegg have held onto some of it, in order to better cater to orders from North America. So if you order from the US or Canada from their site, you’ll get that stock and save on both shipping and duties. 

I’m sure these will go quickly, but, presuming we can always get the leather, I think this will be re-made and re-issued in the future too. Certainly, I’ll be carrying mine (and therefore featuring it on the site), for a long time to come. 

Any questions let me know below, or through the dedicated shop email: [email protected]

All details and images on the shop page here

Photography:

  • Paris, in tweed jacket, Alex Natt @adnatt
  • London, in navy coat, Milad Abedi @milad_abedi
  • US, at Clegg factory, M.Studios

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Rafael

Stunningly beautiful

Oliver

Very smart, nice addition to the shop.

Mike

Hi Simon,

The tote cannot be closed with a zipper. Does the rain nog get inside of the tote?

Chancellor

You write that one pocket is zippered, and one is open, but in the photo showing the inside, there are clearly two zippers. Can you explain?

Colin

Sublime; nubuck is a much underused skin imo. As a matter of interest how does the quality of a Frank Clegg made bag like this compare to a top end Hermes or similar; clearly not comparable price point, but just interested! Thanks!

Ryotaro

The leather looks beautiful and the addition of the pockets addresses my one small gripe with the design of the original tall tote! A question: is the color of the brass zippers silver or more on the yellow side? Can’t quite tell from the pictures.

Philippe

Hi Simon,
The tote is unfortunately out of stock. Do you plan to stock new ones soon? Thanks. Philippe

Peter

Do you have any more details about the 3M coating? I am somewhat paranoid about PFOAs (see https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html) and some of these waterproof coatings use C8 alternatives that are unstudied but probably just as damaging.

Peter

Well, technically, they stopped … but “stopped” means shortening the carbon chain from C8 to C6 in many cases … which is better sort of but not really. For example, GenX which is the Dupont replacement is really not good for you.

Scott

This bag is fantastic, well done! Does Clegg make other bags in this leather? This company is a real treasure and I discovered it by reading PS, thanks!

Josh

This is a slam dunk of a bag. A very welcome addition to the lineup!

Fatih

That leather looks absolutely gorgeous! What do you use a tote style the most for Simon? I‘m somehow in two minds about it. On the one hand I feel attracted to it and then again I find it too feminine.

Fatih

Thanks, yes I meant the purpose. Basically whether or not you use it for „business“ purposes instead of a classical briefcase.

art

Lovely bag! Curious about how this Clegg bag compares to the Acate Borsia Kaus tote you’ve mentioned before, would be curious about your views on relative differences between makers, styling, and functionality.

Roger Seegobin

Hello Simon, great article, very handsome bag, might even consider getting one.
My question is , don’t makers of such high end leather bags put what was once 4 metal studs on the base of the bag, so the bag doesn’t get damage, or is this something that has just not done any more?
Roger.

Ole Kristian

I can’t find any fairly priced trench coats which go below the knees and is in 100% cotton. Any suggestions?

Ole Kristian

I wanted to get the PWVC X PS one, but missed out. I take it you meant “unavailable”. I checked with Drake’s and they are, as you say, not doing it this season. Anyhow, I just saw that SEH Kelly offer one in different materials and colours. However, their waterproof material is not a natural one. Not sure what to think of it. It is, however, very reasonably priced.

Thank you for taking the time to reply, Simon.

Ludwig

Hi Ole,
Have you considered Grenfell? I think their Windsor model should fit the bill.

Veit

Hi Simon, great project! Could you imagine to bring the bag out in another colour, matching both black and brown shoes? E.g. in dark green?

Anonymous

What qualities distinguish a tote bag that is suitable for men (or both men and women) from one that is more feminine? Is it the proportions?

Alex

I’m afraid this is my fundamental problem with tote bags, irrespective of handle length or material; the shape just looks far too much like a ladies shopping bag.
The nubuck does look gorgeous though and I’d love to see it used for something else.

Riccardo Franchi

I’m not Alex, but I do have the same reservations regarding totes: they just look and feel too much like shopping bags. I generally use a more casual briefcase ala filson. This is helped by the fact that most of what I carry tend to be one or two laptops and the accessories for them.

MB

For those who are thinking about the masculine/feminine point made above, I thought I would mention that the Armoury YouTube channel has a nice video where Mark talks about proportions and what (for him) makes certain bags more masculine or feminine.

I’m still debating the right bag for me, but I do like this one a lot. How does it compare to the Acate bag you’ve written about a few times?

MB

Apologies – I’d missed the commentary on the Acate bag! Thank you for directing me.

Anonymous

Could you post a link to the video?

Alex

My go-to bag for a little while now has been a Bennett Winch brief in chocolate (the standard canvas one) which I love. Obviously subjective, but for me the design and materials make it sufficiently versatile to use with tailoring carrying by the handles, but with something like a waxed jacket I’ll add the shoulder strap which I think makes it look a little bit more casual; almost like a messenger bag with the top flap.
Hope that doesn’t sound too much like an ad for BW so I’ll caveat that by saying I wouldn’t go for their tote for my previously stated objections to totes!

ZM

Simon. Great back. Can you wear it on your shoulder?

Marc

Simon – Beautiful bag, although I’m not sure I can justify adding another Frank Clegg to the three I already have. On a slightly unrelated topic, you mentioned the wear on the handles from holding it and I had a question about that – I live in New York, and have a terrible time in the summer with walking (which I tend to do a lot) and carrying leather handles. Is there anything you do to minimize the sweat, or do you just try to reserve leather handles for the winter (or just suck it up)? Thanks!

E

I’d wondered the same several years ago – I’m also in NYC – and came across a clever product (with which I have no affiliation) on Etsy. I found these useful in mitigating the summer stickiness that can develop on some leather handles – at least in darker colors, they haven’t been too conspicuous. https://www.etsy.com/shop/nosacrificebags?section_id=20345865

Paul

Beautiful bag Simon. My one concern would be that it doesn’t have a zip closure at the opening as, say, Frank Clegg’s Hampton tote does. So while the exterior is water resistant, I’d be worried about using the bag in wet weather due to the risk of rain coming through the opening and reaching the contents. What’s been your experience?

Ant

Bloody gorgeous. I have a Frank Clegg Hampton tote and love it – I’ll put stuff in it just for an excuse to take it with me. And I get (and agree) why it’s this brown, but I can see this being our sartorialist equivalent of our better halves turning up to a dinner in the same dress as someone else. Perhaps the 2021 London SuperTrunk will be the first time?! Will you further collaborate for more colours?

DB

Looks great, Simon.

This post reminds me how much I like that gun-club jacket. It combines so well with the flannels and a chambray or denim shirt.

Jason

Simon,
I have the PS/Globetrotter collaboration ‘Tote’.
How do they compare ?
Regards,
Jason

Anonymous

How does this compare to the Equus folio Simon? Would you say that is more for the minimalist worker? These two bags seem to be quite opposite in terms of use and size

Anonymous

Why do you prefer totes over a messenger bag? That way you don’t have anything to carry on your hands

Ajay

Sold out now on Frank Clegg?

Josua

Hi Simon,

could you please tell, which navy roll neck you are wearing on the photos above?

Thanks
Josua

Jan

Beautiful product Simon, congratulations. I am very tempted but I do wonder, wearing dark brown suede on the feet most days of the week, would it be a bit too much? Probably works better with different materials / shades on the feet?

Anonymous

Simon, to confirm, would you not use this tote when wearing a brown suede bomber?

Anonymous

Understood, thanks. Would you mind explaining the rationale behind your style preference in this regard? And also, would the same extend to not wearing suede shoes and outerwear simultaneously? Thanks.

Peter

Tell us more about your new rug – is it a Heriz? In your Instagram story at the bottom of this page.

R Abbott

Gorgeous bag – love the look of the nubuck, and I’m sure it’s even nicer in person.The one thing that puts me off is the absence of a zipper. I have the Clegg-Armoury bag, which has a zipper, and although I tend to have it open when I’m walking around so that I can instantly grab something, I tend to close it when I set it down so that nothing spills out and so that strangers can’t see what’s inside. For instance, if I set it down while shopping at a department store or while sitting down for a meal at a restaurant.

Perhaps you could add a zipper during the next run? You could tuck the zipper in in such a way that it is not visible when unzipped.

R Abbott

I guess it depends how you use it. If you use the tote bag like a glorified shopping bag, you probably don’t need a zipper. But given the quality of materials and the price, I imagine that most purchasers have something more in mind. And if you use it as a man bag of sorts, or as a casual alternative to a briefcase, then having a zipper is essential. That’s not to say I use the zipper all the time – if I’m just going to my parents’ house and using it to stash a sweater and a book, In not going to bother. But if it’s holding any work material, I need to be able to zip it.

Perhaps one option would be to tuck the zipper behind a flap so that it’s out of the way and doesn’t scratch anything when not in use?

Speaking of zippers, is the zipper for the interior pocket installed in such a way that you can use the bag to hold a cashmere sweater without worrying about it getting caught on the zipper?

Marc

If you’re in the US you can call Frank (or his son Ian, who I’ve dealt with in the past) and see if they can add it for you. I have great experience tweaking things on my bags and I’ve always found them happy to help with anything.

Anon

First of all, that’s a beautiful bag, the leather is stunning.

On that note I would like to know how you’d rate Frank Clegg’s quality vs. Swaine Adeney Brigg.
I’m in the market for one or two conservative briefcases (a single compartment one for every day and a larger volume one for days in court). I like the offerings from both makers and am unsure which to get. SAB has been around for a long time and I would assume their quality is excellent, but they are also very expensive. Which is ok as long as it’s worth it.
Frank Clegg is a bit of a newcomer (although he has now been around for quite a while as well). Also I got the impression from a lot of interviews, that Mr. Clegg is a very nice guy and someone who’s business I’d like to support. His prices are also a lot more reasonable.
If the difference in price doesn’t reflect a difference in quality I’d probably get something from Mr. Clegg – how do you think the craftsmanship from both makers compares?
I’d be grateful to hear your respectful opinion on both makers.

Nico

Totes are ladies bags to my eyes, sorry. Guys sporting them look effeminate in my view, watch cap or not.
For those with a different perspective, this one certainly seems to have the usual great level of PS products.

Rob

On topic, a beautiful bag. Off topic, I think that your trousers need to be a bit longer. As
Luciano Barbera says “I want to see your shoes, I do not want to see your socks.” Cheers.

Juan H.

Just wanted to report, for the benefit of those who may be on the fence about getting this bag, that Simon’s article not only does not exaggerate how nice and versatile this is, but perhaps falls short. Not that it’s Simon’s fault, just that the richness of the leather is hard to convey with words or even pictures. Mine arrived a couple of days ago and I keep trying to come up with excuses to get out of the house just to use it. Great piece!

Michael K

Got mine from Frank Clegg late last week. It’s truly spectacular. I was immediately surprised by the weight of the leather and the solidity it projects. The colour is beautiful. The handles are a perfect length in that one’s never tempted to sling it over a shoulder, which damage a jacket. Along with the JPLC brown leather aviator, which they no longer make, this is the best bag I’ve ever had. Thanks!

A. Rawlerson

New stock when please?

SWC

Small typo in the email link Simon (m in place of n). Just in case anyone else is lazy like me and copies and pastes !

CUONGStore

Hi Simon, great bag, I will even consider getting one 🙂

Chancellor

Any suggestions in terms of caring for the bag and it’s leather? Perhaps spraying with a suede/nubuck conditioner occasionally?

Yiu Pang Yuen

Hi Simon

i just found that the bag is quite heavy even it is empty

and you are right, we should not add a zip top, it is useless, as we will frequently take the things in & out at the tote bag, therefore, adding a zip , means adding extra step on the process, which really not convenient enough, and even you dont zip it, the zipper closure will block the inner pockets, which not convenient too if you wanna pull somethings out

But at the end, the colour and texture of the bag is so nice

TM

I think I’ve had something similar to your globe trotter to rimowa luggage swap. I’ve noticed a shift in my luggage and bags towards items generally more subtle and practical. A calf bag seems rather loud to me right now. It seems like an all black nubuck tote would be rather pleasent to use. Understanding it doesn’t have the color depth that this does, I do frequently wear brown suede so avoiding a clash seems like a nice idea. Welcome any thoughts you might have. As an aside, I agree, with some other comments here, no zipper with this style of bag is the way to go.

John

Just received this bag in the re-stock. Absolutely love it, and great value for money.

In particular, the leather is beautiful (the combination of a subtle grain and softness is new to me) and the piece looks extremely versatile in spanning casual/formal. And the build looks solid.

Thanks for bringing this bag to us all, Simon and the Clegg team.

John

Just wondering if you have found, or advise, on any maintenance/protectors for this? I asked FC but didn’t get a reply. My impression is “no”, but wanted to check. Thanks!

By the way, this bag is a pleasure to use, and i find myself intentionally filling it with things before going out so that it holds a nice shape. This kind of one-off collaboration is a really nice complement to the the more permanent items in the PS store (oxford, dartmoor, donegal etc.).

Anonymous

Great, thanks Simon.

Yash

Just bought this. Really really excited to receive it. Will update on thoughts once received. It’s going to be a sensational piece.

Derek

Hi Simon,
Wondering how would you compare this with your chestnut working tote bag, in term of versatility. Thanks so much.

Derek

The working tote doesn’t look that big on you. I saw you carrying it in lot of your posts and it looks stunning. So do you find the medium working tote is comparable to the tall tote? In term of material, how would you compare between chestnut tumbled leather and dark brown nubuck leather? Thanks.

Derek

Sorry, Simon, one more question. The nubuck tote looks extremely good on you with the winter clothes. But do you think it is equally good with summer tailoring ?

Craig

Regarding the zipper, or lack of, I strongly agree with not including it. My city recently banned disposable plastic bags for grocery shopping, so everyone has switched to semi-permanent plastic totes that every grocery store sells for a few cents. I’ve never wished one had a zipper, and it’s very convenient to just reach in and grab what you want. And unless the bag is stuffed to the gills, nothing ever spills out. Also, I think totes just look better without a zipper. If a zipper is needed, a duffle bag is better.

Thomas

Hi Simon,
I really like this tote bag in brown! Would you consider this bag to be unisex? I was thinking of getting this for my partner for her birthday.
My partner is 5’3″ and of medium build, in which case do you think that the proportions would be too big for her?
Thank you in advance!
Tom

Thomas

Hi Simon,
Thank you for the quick response! I’ll into this in mored detail. Alternatively, do you know of any brands of comparable quality to Frank Clegg that produce bags for women?
Many thanks,
Tom