Five bags might seem like a lot – certainly compared to shirts or ties, as featured previously in this series

But given you’ll need some kind of suitcase, plus a day bag, and probably a backpack for cycling, walking or sports, five isn’t that many. You probably already own more than that. 

This article is therefore more about what options to go for in each of these categories, as well as which brands. 

 

 

1. The modern work bag

Most people need some kind of bag to take to work, even if it’s unlikely to carry any papers – which was the contents that drove most historical designs. A laptop is a similar size, and there’ll likely be keys, headphones, maybe even a keep-cup and a water bottle. 

The first thing I’d say is that, unfortunately, an attaché case usually looks too old-fashioned. If you wear a suit and tie to work, in certain professions, it can be OK. But most of the time, this beautiful piece of leather work and carpentry is just out of place. 

A better smart bag is usually a briefcase – so one with a flap-over top. Dunhill has some lovely examples. But even that is too smart for most guys today, even a version with a bigger flap and two straps, as here from Frank Clegg.

Usually the best option for a modern office is a zip-top bag. Either a hard one like the Clegg zip-top briefcase (above), or a soft one like the Connolly Grip bag or Deck bag (the latter almost a briefcase/tote crossover).

The biggest danger with these soft, zip-top models is that they can be a little small, particularly when carried by a larger guy. Ignore the male impulse to want the case as light as possible, and make sure you get a decent size. 

Oh, and another way to avoid that is to have a model in a much rougher, more obviously practical material, like a tin-cloth Filson. I have an old, patched model (shown bottom) which is fantastic, and a good partner to workwear as well as more casual tailoring.

 

 

2. The smart tote bag

I don’t use a work bag like that much, despite owning a Sac a Depeches from Hermes. It’s just too smart. 

Instead, my default every day is a leather or suede tote bag. This is more casual, and for me goes as well with a suit as with jeans. It’s the most versatile option on this list. 

There are still a few guys that see a tote as feminine, but given how ubiquitous they are these days, I find that strange. Particularly something in as rugged a leather as the bullskin nubuck of of the PS x Frank Clegg collaboration we did (above). 

The biggest downside of a tote is its lack of structure, which means it’s not great for papers, and even a computer if it’s particularly soft. But I’m fine carrying my laptop in the bullskin one – I just put it in a little canvas cover to protect it. And there are more structured totes, like the Commuter Tote or Market Tote offered by The Armoury. 

 

 

3. The weekender

This might be the category of bag I love most, with my favourite being the Dunhill doctor’s-bag style above. It’s probably because it’s the biggest expanse of nice leather you get to have and to hold. 

But it’s also the one I use least. I think because when I travel, it’s rarely by car, so weight is more of a consideration. And because when I’m carrying a large volume of stuff – eg for a shoot – my larger tote is more convenient. 

Still, everyone is likely to have one weekender or duffel bag, and they are lovely. I’d recommend the Bennett Winch ones in canvas or leather, and for something very modern looking, the Troubadour weekender

 

 

4. The suitcase

Everyone has a suitcase or two. The issue, at least if you have a family like me, is being able to afford good ones when you need a minimum of three to go on a family holiday. 

Fortunately, I was given one by Globe-Trotter years ago, and got a Rimowa one (above) a couple of years later on sale. And that was before Rimowa was taken over by LVMH and became much more expensive. 

My orange Globe-Trotter aged really nicely, getting scuffed and worn, and even acquiring the odd travel sticker. But in the end it just proved too impractical. It came undone occasionally, and was too hard to roll along. (Sorry Super Hans – I need the earth to carry my luggage for me.)

The Rimowa is so much better. It’s more practical inside, stronger, has never had any functional problems, and rolls like a dream. I never notice it, and when you’re hot, late, jet-lagged and perhaps hungover, that’s what you need. 

Given how expensive Rimowa has become, I’m not sure what I’d buy today though.

 

 

5. The backpack

A backpack should not be worn over a suit, or indeed over any knitwear that’s remotely delicate. In time it will destroy both of them. 

But I still have a backpack, which I wear for commuting by bike, and there’s a family one I use when doing practical things like camping, or going to build dens in the local woods. 

The commuting one is leather from Bennett Winch (above), and I’d certainly recommend it. The tumbled leather has a great texture, but it’s not that heavy (I’ve tried their canvas ones as well). 

For a more rugged one, I’d probably look to Filson or a multicoloured piece of fun like those from Epperson Mountaineering (below)

 

 

The next five

As you might suspect, I have more than five types of bag, let alone individual bags. Or at least have tried many over the years. Next therefore, are the five I’d get after the ones above. 

 

 

6. The canvas tote

These are great because they are so light and fold up, so you can take them travelling inside a suitcase for example. 

They’re also a nice way to accessorise, and add colour, much like an umbrella. Such as the yellow Trunk one of mine above. My favourites are from Ichizawa Hanpu, stocked by Trunk in the UK. 

 

 

7. The folio

Similar function to the modern work bag, for someone carrying less stuff. As I do this often, I have a couple I love, my favourites being a vintage piece shown here, and the envelope ones I designed with Equus a few years ago (above). 

Still, this is quite limiting as regards size, and so probably belongs in the second five, not the first. 

 

 

8. The suit carrier

Unsurprisingly, my favourite here is the SC Holdall I designed with Bennett Winch (above), and which features in the new James Bond film. You can even see it in the trailer, as Bond is given a new tux in a bar. 

But this also belongs in the second five, as I find when I travel I tend to either wear my jacket, or fold it up inside a large suitcase if I have one with me. See video here on how to do that. 

 

 

9. The casual briefcase

This is the category for that Filson briefcase mentioned earlier. I do think there’s a case for having this as well as a smart one, if you find you like this style of bag a lot more than a tote, for example. 

If you prefer totes, I’d say have a couple in different styles – eg a smart one and a more casual version, like a Chamula blanket tote (below) or a Porter Yoshida helmet bag

 

 

10. The messenger bag

I don’t own a messenger bag – I think the last time I did so was at school. But I’m including it here as it is another popular category, and I wanted to say that – for me, personally – it always feels a little teenagery. 

Certainly, I don’t think it’s a good option for guys commuting to work. Because it doesn’t look grown up, and because it’s killing the shoulder of that jacket it’s being worn over. Even a nice shirt will be ground down after a while. 

 

 

There are many other good brands I’d recommend based on my experience. They include:

  • Chester Mox for great hand-sewn, Hermes-feeling leather
  • Swaine Adeney for British-style bridle leather
  • Ortus (above) for the highest-level of make you’ll find anywhere. Just superb
  • Serge Amoruso (below) for bespoke commissions, and a quirky French style
  • J Panther for some original designs in canvas, not unlike Filson
  • Chapman bags for a similar fishing-bag aesthetic, also good for photographers
  • Acate Borsa for a Japanese take on Hermes-like pebbled leather designs

We’ve had some great content over the years on bags. I’d particularly recommend:

All photos are taken from previous PS articles. Most are linked to in the text. If you are unsure about any, please let me know in the comments and I’ll specify. Cheers.

 

 

 

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Martins

For backpacks, an army style backpack in my opinion looks smarter than your “fun” example. Picked one up on eBay about a decade ago. Commute almost daily with it. Lately couple years on a motorcycle. Occasionally have loaded it up to about 30kg (don’t ask), by now bottom is borderline worn out, otherwise still going strong. Cant decide if it’s worth paying for repair more than I paid for a bag.
As my second “all purpose bag” I have about 5 years old Nike shoulderbag. I was considering nice canvas bag, but Nike is very light, and even if I spill something in it, I can just chuck it in a washing machine. I shudder to imagine spending 1000£ on a leather/leather trimmed bag and have “Tupperware leak” accident.
For my third bag for couple years ive been looking at your folio. But since it’s “want” and not “need”, always something else comes up.

Martins

regards tote bag.. if it’s anything like your yellow one on pictures.. that just doesn’t do it for me. I like your bullskin tote, but I would need to justify using it enough to spend money on it.. and so far “I don’t care if I get my Nike dirty” wins.

next year when I I finally work my shopping list up to some nice jackets, I’ll consider it.

re your folio. the only thing I do miss is “something” to put just my phone, keys and wallet in when I do dress up to go somewhere nice. I tried bridge coat pockets in winter but somehow didn’t feel right. your folio seems to fit the bill best.

Ottavio

If you commute to work, the kind of bag should really depend on the commute: mine includes a 5’ bike ride to the railway station, so it has to be either a backpack or a messenger bag.
Here in Milan, though, almost every man and most women commute to work with a backpack, and I feel the suffering of those jackets while I look at people in front of me on escalators. Since the only messenger’s bag I’ve ever seen used by students were in college, it carries no young pupil association, and so I found my pleasure in a nice leather one.
I’ve almost never seen any man carrying a tote bag — actually in Italy it is still common to make stupid jokes if you meet a friend holding his wife’s tote — but they make so much sense that canvas bags are becoming my free time bag of choice.

LB

Never thought I would see the day peep show was referenced on a PS post!

It was an earlier post you made on Filson that lead me to purchase their dryden briefcase, my first bag as I started my apprenticeship and this thing is bulletproof.

Aaron

What is the difference between a briefcase with a flap and strap versus a satchel? As far as I was aware, messenger bags are essentially fabric satchels – is the only thing that makes the strap on the leather briefcases okay for shirts the fact it is leather?

OP

This is a more general thought. I’m constantly surprised at your ability to provide practical and useful content on a regular basis. Suit reviews aside (though always a treat), I must admit that about a year ago I thought there will be just more of the same on PS. This piece, and the Massimo Dutti one last week, are extremely useful (as well as well written and fun) in an unexpected manner. Kudos, Simon. No small feat this.

OP

Thank you. I know them both well and I’ve used them often. I always think you’ve covered everything there already, and that any additional article would be too niche. I’m glad to be proven wrong every time.

Peter Hall

Have you ever written in depth about sunglasses,Simon? I think that would be of interest(not forgetting you have Southern Hemisphere readers) even though autumn is upon us.

Peter Hall

Yes, certainly. I have no idea what to look for

Peter Hall

My everyday bag is a Billingham Hadley Pro-I usually have a pair of cameras and lenses, but it also has space for a laptop and documents. Looks.very smart.

Nicholas

Hello. Would you say that for casual travelling, the weekender would be more useful than a suit holder ? I am considering buying a new carryon and I find myself hesitating between the 2 options.

Nicholas

Until a few months ago I would have answered “nearly never when travelling” but I now find myself having to keep one suit with me more often. I’m hesitating between the suit holder and just carefully folding it up in a weekender or suitcase.

Erik

Nicholas, look into Travelpro platinum line. I use their trifold garment bag, which looks more like a large briefcase, for weekend and short trips in Europe to carry a suit and couple of shirts and laptop etc. Their carry-on versions have a built-in suite carrier that folds separately. I have used these two together to go to Australia and New Zealand on one-week trips with three suites and all other stuff, just as two carry-on items.

AW

Nice note, Simon. I too have a Filson, albeit a the rugged twill tote with zip top that I’ve used for more than a decade esp. for int’l travel. It’s a bit lighter than the briefcase and offers much of the same functionality. Like your example, it does get dirty but I don’t think it detracts from the bag’s look. I use it both for work and personal trips and love it as a carry on. It’s not flash but still a high quality piece of kit that doesn’t look out of place when meeting clients.
That said, Filson’s rugged twill (vs. tin cloth) can destroy a wool suit or more fragile fabric. I often carry it over my shoulder due to the weight of the packed tote and length of the straps. The friction from walking through an airport terminal or city streets has damaged more than one suit jacket.

Tommy Mack

I appreciate many guys may dislike the look and feel of a messenger bag, especially with formal or even semi formal clothes. I find it so much more convenient though than carrying a bag by hand on public transport. Plus I normally need my hands free for holding onto children/pushing a buggy!

I, sadly, seldom wear tailoring these days but I do note that the strap has really worn some of my polos and sweaters over summer so that is another downside.

Tommy Mack

It’s a fair point! I suppose my reasoning such as it is, has been to balance practicality with style. If I’m dressed casually which I am more often than not, the messenger bag sits comfortably with the look. Also, I am with my kids more often than not (although that won’t always be the case I’m sure as they get older)

If I’m wearing a casual jacket, the wear caused by the strap is fairly negligible though it hadn’t occurred to me how much damaged it would do when worn directly over cotton or wool knitwear.

In summary, I think you’re quite right that I need some sort of smart, hand-held bag for occasions when I am more formally dressed (especially as I’m considering having a topcoat made to replace my shabby old coat*) This could also double up to protect my knits in the warmer months! I’ll go back to the top of the article and read up! Anything to stave off the Gore-Tex dystopia (Gore-topia?)

That said, I think there’ll always be a place in my collection for a satchel-type shoulder bag (and for my mini-messenger – to all intents and purposes a handbag – to save stuffing the pockets of my jackets with wallet, keys etc)

I think a lot of it comes down to lifestyle and the degree of formality in dress that goes with it.

*A cheap “stop gap” coat which became shabby in part due to stuffing the pockets, again pointing to a lack of a decent bag!

zo

i really really cherish having both hands free. I dont know why, but it really bothers me when i need to use my hands and its not free that very instant. For example to use a phone both handed…or coffee in one hand phone in the other…or to press the buttons on a train…or to reach for my wallet to pay…touch in touch out commuting…little things like that. I used to wear a smart backpack over tailoring (always over a mac/coat, never over delicate blazers). but now i carry a smart Trunk canvas tote (inspired by you, thanks)…and i’ve realised more often than not, i subconsciously end up lugging that over my shoulder anyway!

Tommy Mack

As if on cue, the same day I posted this, I found myself taking my weekend bag, itself too sporty for the occasion tbh, to Galvin La Chapelle so I didn’t risk damaging another shirt with a shoulder strap. (It was a warm evening so I wasn’t wearing a jacket).

I’m heavily leaning towards a Filson briefcase or field bag so I’ve the option of carry handles or a shoulder strap (also I’ll be wearing casual clothes nearly all the time)

Otto

I’ve used a Rimowa cabin trolley as carry-on baggage together with a laptop bag on top for 15 years of weekly travel, usually flights and train . Over time, every single component except the aluminum case has been replaced at least once, the handle more than 3 times. It looks battered and bruised and all the better for it. Rimowa is expensive, but for someone who travels a lot, IMHO the cost per wear is worth it. For those looking for a hard wearing work bag I also recommend Tumi, the design has improved a lot and they are virtually indestructible.

Chancellor

I’ve found no need for a weekender bag given the inner part of the PS Holdall gives me something similar. And I generally opt for a tote anyway.

The PS Holdall is my go-to for a 1-2 day trip. Can wear one suit, pack the other, and have a way to take shoes and everything else as well. Much more useful than a garment bag.

One other bag I’d include on the second five is a small but masculine clutch-like bag for when you have only keys, phones, sunglasses to carry. E.g. your old Dunhill box. I have a black one form Montblanc that I like. I just wish I could find a brown one as well.

Initials CG

Clutch bag? I get the concept of having something to carry eye glasses, keys, wallets and phones, which could be carried easily on your person but shouldn’t. But does this refer to something like a smaller folio (sized down from the A4 paper note pads)?

In a leather shop in Florence, I found a beautiful brown agenda note pad case with enough room for a phone, wallet, lots of keys (Italian buildings still use these huge 18th century style keys like to open a dungeon door – a few of those to carry will drive you mad) and eye glass case. It could fit other things that get accumulated through the day, like A4 papers folded in half and a rolled up tie (those knit ties are so practical for this). Maybe an iPad tablet, but see no need for those. It’s smart enough to be worn with suits, I think, and with a handle that pulls out to wrap around the wrist, you can achieve some two handed freedom. Not unlike the beautiful antique folio you describe in another post a few years back, just a bit smaller but thicker – like carrying a book. The zip can be frustrating sometimes but nothing is perfect. It is super convenient if you have to fly for the day and back since going through airports has become physical torture…

If this is what’s meant for clutch bag, I find this kind of thing extremely practical for daily use. Do you have link to your clutch bag? Can’t seem to find it. I’m not sure I know what you mean by “too unusual for most people.”

I see people carrying around too much hardware, with chargers, laptops and other stuff. Weird how technology was supposed to reduce that but so many of us are walking computer stores …

Initials CG

Thank you, Simon. Yes, it is lovely, but I see what you mean. I think, however, there are specific details which make that dunhill clutch appear more effeminate (i.e. the size, large flap with bright buckle, the edge folds, and the color – I love it too for shoes but they are barely used).
I feel if it had less pop and looked more like an agenda in dark brown or black… the ladies hand purse comparison wouldn’t necessarily come to mind. After all, men’s and women’s accessories are quite similar and it’s the details that make the difference. I’ll give you the tote bag in London as not necessarily looking like a ladies handbag, but – and I could be way off here – in Rome, it looks more like you’re on some posh shopping excursion on via dei condotti while your wife is in the max Mara store… I mean the photo of you with it looks quite good, so I’m rethinking this one. The Lefft-Clegg tote you posted in 2011 looks nice, as well some version dunhill doctors bag…still a man should strive to carry as least as possible with him at all times ( or at least that someone else carries it for you, haha). Mark Cho at the Armoury posted a video on a particular bag he liked. What intrigued me was how he described all the things he often carried and the logic behind. Why do I get so fascinated by this stuff? I think the best carry bags are used by older Italian lawyers: the portaborse (they’re practically free, carry everything and you can get new ones as often as you want).

Great ! Thanks! Another rabbit hole to go down! And I was gonna skip this article….

StuartR

Ha – I know what you mean about Rimowa; I bough a super-large hold suitcase for about £500 in 2016 and the next time I looked they were over double that. Good case but…

Interestingly I wanted a travel bag to carry laptop, camera, guidebooks, notebooks etc and that would fit under an airline seat etc. Being unable to find anything that worked, had one made. After months of work, we ended up with – give or take – the dimensions and format of a classic flight bag!!

Matty

Good read, Simon.

I’m glad to see Chapman Bags getting a nod. Being a photographer I’m particularly fond of this style of bag having used Billingham bags for some years.

Other bags similar in style and of similar quality that are well worth a mention are Brady and Croots. They all seem to fly under the radar but are all superb and are excellent value for money given how well they’re made.

I own a few Chapman bags and they are really lovely – all hand made from heavy canvas, leather and brass fittings.

Cheers,
Matty

Julien

I don’t know if I am the only one in this situation but as a shortish guy (5″6) my experience with tote bags hasn’t been great. They tend to drag and bump on things like stairs when going up and down. You have to carry it arm bent most of the time which is tiring especially when heavy so I ended up carrying it on the shoulder almost exclusively, and for that purpose I’d much prefer a messenger bag to be honest.

Jim

I quite agree, and I’m 6’2”! I don’t understand the attraction of the tote. Simon’s brown suede one does look nice but the long handle of a tote bag does make impractical to carry around and liable to touch the floor/ground, which for a hygiene freak like me is a no no! The handle is also not really long enough to put over the shoulder comfortably. Totes do look rather feminine to me as well, although I could get over that if I thought it was practical.

I’ve had a Dunhill messenger for probably 14 years that has served me very well. Back then they made attractive combination leather/canvas ones that were light weight and weren’t ludicrously over priced. I don’t usually use it for business use these days but it’s great for travel and when out and about at the weekend if I need to carry things that won’t fit in my pockets, sometimes when riding a Boris bike. I avoid using it with tailoring for obvious reasons but occasional use won’t damage your jacket, especially with sturdier cloths. Over a shirt is absolutely no problem. Knitwear can be more dangerous.

I get the point about looking teenagery, but my one looks far classier than anything a teenager would use!

Messengers (at least well made ones) are infinitely more stylish than rucksacks.

Óscar

Any thoughts about those little canvas covers/sleeves to protect your computer? I’ve been taking a look for a while to Hardgraft which seems a quality product but haven’t try it yet. Any recomendation?

Peter K

Did I read correctly that the SC Hold all is featured in the latest Bond film? What fun!

For family travel we use a Briggs and Riley rolling suitcase, which is more of a huge rolling duffle bag. It works well for our travel which rarely involves packing a suit or sport coat.

My challenge for a daily commuting bag is finding one that is large enough to hold my sizable lunch without being to bulky or uncomfortable to carry. I think I need to look at a good quality tote.

Peter K

I keep my lunch in a small spill proof (more like spill containing) bag so something nicer than canvas might be in order. The tote would also need to hold my laptop, probably in a sleeve as you mention.

Mike Rowley

B&R bags are every bit as good as Tumi in my experience. I have a rolling carry on bag and a rolling suiter (used as hold luggage on longer trips).

I used to make on average two trips by air every week, over a period of twenty five years. Both bags still look pretty much as new.

The B&R advantage over Tumi is the price.

Aaron

I find the Frank Clegg commuter briefcase has plenty of space for my lunch bag, plus a water bottle.

Peter

I second the congratulations on making it into the Bond movie! Menswear reality meets menswear fantasy – worlds collide!

FS

That Rob Roy/Buffalo check tote in the first image might be my favorite of all the ones pictured, although it’s much too casual for me, I’m afraid.

I’m in the market for a smart looking suitcase for both business and family travel, but I can’t bring myself to pay Rimowa’s prices. The trouble is that there just do not seem to be a lot of worthy alternatives.

Craig

Great article. Barring suitcases for travel, 9/10 I’m grabbing a tote bag, and augment with a duffel as needed. Especially with the duffel, you need to avoid the temptation to go big, as the weight of a packed bag becomes an issue. The Clegg zippered suitcases are beautiful, and I’d love to get one but just don’t think I’d use it.

RT

Hi Simon,
I’m afraid that I’m one of those “guys who see the tote as feminine”. And, in my experience, we number more than “a few”. I suspect that the tote is more widely accepted as a male accessory in London and other large cities and possibly by a slightly younger generation. For those of us who live elsewhere, and have rather more decades behind us than we care to contemplate, it’s a little different. However, I’ve acquired several lightweight canvas totes (including one from Trunk) and I’m converted to their practicality. Consequently, I’ve been looking for a more robust and more masculine version. I’ve homed in on the Bennett Winch tote or the Belstaff Touring tote, both of which seem to fit the bill and are roughly similar in price, for both leather and canvas versions. I’ve settled on buying one or other of them (or one in canvas and the other in leather, if I’m feeling flush, have a sudden rush of blood to the head or find myself in one of those thankfully rare moments when late night, online shopping, seems like a good idea, after a generous glass of good wine!). Do you have any experience of either bag?
Richard

Graham Morgan

I really don’t understand guys carrying Tote bags; just looks plain wrong to me. Maybe it’s popular in the south of England; I rarely see a chap in the north rocking one. I understand your argument about rugged materials, but even so, I still don’t think that you avoid the ‘guy carrying a big handbag’ ascetic.

Ian

Personally, I’m inclined to agree with Graham. I think a Weekender like the black leather version from Bennett Winch could be a possible alternative with smarter clothing.

TOS

PS x Frank Clegg collaboration tote bag in brown arrived today. William Morris would approve – beautiful and practical. Bravo Simon and Frank!

Micahel K.

The first PS x Clegg tote is now my go to work every day bag and it goes with everything from a business suit to the pandemic-era casual everyone appears to have adopted in the higher ed sector. I will (as I have before) put in a pitch for the J Panther Aviator, which holds keys, wallet, a notebook, business cards, a spare pair of glasses and a small bottle of water. It’s a little bit casual for truly formal business settings, but works with everything else. Some men might say it looks too much like a purse (and I’ve had women I don’t know stop and say “I’ve been looking for a bag like that all my life”), but it does almost everything I need for a casual day of shopping or a light hike in the outdoors. And it has aged beautifully. Luggage is an eternal problem, especially if you don’t like hardshell cases, which I don’t. I don’t think they have much of a footprint outside the US, but Briggs and Riley are just one step above the disposable rubbish you find at most high street shops and discounters, the lifetime warranty is real (I had a leather handle come unstitched, with no loss of function, and it was replaced with no questions), and I have beaten the hell out of it on all sorts of public transit, and never had a problem. Not the prettiest luggage in the world, but I remain surprised that it’s a category of product where going from entry level to just one stage up makes a huge quality difference, unlike shoes, where you really do need to spend a lot more than entry level to get something that will last any time at all.

B

Hi Simon — I have been eyeing several bags from Metier London. They are beautiful and have well-considered details, but seem overpriced vs the competition. Do you have any experience with this brand?

Chris

What about my Next bag with the good handles (credit Peter Kay)

Jackson

I hope you’ll take this criticism in the spirit that it is intended, which is more discussion provoking than it is meant to be insulting, although perhaps my motivations for writing it may be somewhat confused.

Firstly though, I have gleaned a vast amount of value in visiting PS. I’ll put it this way, I now get daily compliments on my clothing whereas I used to rarely receive them at all. I’m balding rather young (I’m 27) and now rather than inspecting my retreating hairline before leaving the house, I briefly nod at what I’m wearing thinking, “by god, you’ve done it again.” So the inspiration that I’ve found in Permanent Style is having a rather palpable pay off in my physical self esteem and in the way I am received by those I know. I also always find your think pieces very engaging and contemplative and I admire the way you deconstruct what can often be entirely subconscious. I spent far too long wearing tan boots with black trousers and never being sure why my clothes looked dumb. Now I know! However, every now and then the thought that I’m stood wearing a £150 shirt and a £495 chore jacket whist on a tube train and realising that which is adorning my upper body is more than most people’s monthly rent, well, it does rather send my liberal sensibilities into free-fall and makes me feel rather sick.

There have been an increasing number of days in which I click into PS and read a post that wills on a similar response. The men whose posts I read – and the man whose blog this is – are all evidently some of the more erudite, eloquent and contemplative sorts you would be likely to meet in London. But I can’t help but find this almost fetishised approach to attire and accessory – concealed behind the veneer of aestheticism and a passion for it – to be a necessary front for what is essentially a senseless orgy of consumerism.

It may not be that I stop reading Permanent Style, but I think checking in daily as I might the news has done damage to both my bank balance and my sense of social responsibility.

Paul

This discussion reminds me of a great quote from the late Sir Terry Pratchett:

“But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet. This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

The way I read it, Simon is quite reasonably proposing that buying the single $50 pair of boots which will last for years is, if one can afford it, the better and more environmentally responsible choice; while Jackson is expressing his discomfort that many – if not most – people cannot afford the $50 boots and are therefore have no option other than buying lots of pairs of cheap boots.

Can’t remember who said it, but a more brutal formulation is: “being poor is expensive”.

Peter Hall

It was the same for my dad’s hobby of photography. He bought an Olympus OM1 ,in the 70s, and it equated to three months salary. Mother had words.

James

I’m sorry but that is a complete miss-characterisation. It may be uncomfortable to admit but this blog will without a doubt encourage and inspire overconsumption. I’ve felt if from reading weekly posts about new acquisitions and thinking ‘maybe i need one of those’. All the advertising included on the site is for material goods retail and you regularly include roundups of the seasons new and best purchases. Lets be realistic here, this site is for people, and indeed buy a person, who is passionate about clothes and keen to consume them. I find it disingenuous to imply its anything else.

James

What is disingenuous is the statement I think often the mistake people make when reading the blog, is thinking that someone is saying they have to buy all of it’. By saying this you are not only insulting the intelligence of your readership but somehow shifting blame to them as individuals without acknowledging the impact and influence of the site and its content. I find this sort of denial problematic and disingenuous.
 
I don’t believe that there is a way to have a site like this without
encouraging overconsumption unless the primary aim of the site was to do the opposite. Admittedly this would be a less interesting site and would probably not be at all successful. It certainly wouldn’t generate the interest that PS does. I think it should be clear though that probably, on balance, a site like this will inspire more consumption than it tempers through discussions on longevity and sustainability. There’s a reason clothing brands will pay for advertising on the site and that’s because its readers are likely to spend money with them buying things like ‘invisible socks’.
 
Perhaps it would be an idea to provide some advertising space to a relevant charity or social enterprise or some form of sustainable clothing initiative. The top spot at the moment is Drakes who are very much a fashion brand, releasing several collections each season and seemingly encouraging and indeed requiring  people to keep purchasing seasonal, trend based fashion items. This is then backed up with flash sales with leftover stock is sold off on the cheap.

I think if PS was truly committed to discouraging overconsumption a brand such as this would not hold the top spot. Its another unfortunate demonstration of the problems with the capitalist mentality in that a brand [in this case PS] can espouse a message of sustainability whilst on the other hand keenly promoting the opposite through advertising as this is what generates the money. Money trumps morals every time.
 
I enjoy the site and visit regularly but I do find this a bit head in the sand and I resent being told that, as a reader, i am the one making a mistake and not PS.  

James

Hi Simon,
 
I don’t doubt your intentions or dispute that PS may be more conscious on these issues than other sites but saying I’m aiming in the wrong direction sounds like ‘whataboutism’. Just because other sites may be worse doesn’t mean that this one cant and shouldn’t be critiqued.
 
I feel i have addressed your previous points although on re-reading perhaps you are referring to your question how would you encourage them to buy only a very small number of those [items] featured?
 
Its a difficult question and I’m not sure if i have the answer or indeed if what you are asking is even possible. I don’t feel like this question necessarily needs to be answered for the points raised to be consider, valid or true. It may be that you must accept that this is just a consequence of running a site based around product review and promotion. I know that there is an argument for craft etc etc but at the end of the day these are all still consumable products.
 
I think that alongside trying to discourage overconsumption through the points you have raised in the previous comments perhaps some sort of charitably or environmental engagement/ activism might help off set this. Your latest article goes someway towards this but i feel perhaps a more proactive, interventional initative would be needed.

The PS reader survey conducted a little while ago highlighted the high levels of wealth amongst your readership. Indeed the average readers salary was serval times higher than the UK national average. Perhaps rather than or at least alongside encouraging and promoting spending on new products you could channel some column inches to encouraging your readers to engage with and donate to some sort of charitable and or enviromental initiative. Perhaps this may help to offset some of the less favourable impacts of the site. Perhaps a registered PS charity might be interesting?
 
With the significant influence you now wield it would be good to see it put to benevolent effect. Perhaps the next symposium could be on this subject and the next pop up could include some sort of charitable or environmental concession rather than just product promotion.
 
Food for thought anyway. Thanks for the stimulating debate.
 
Best wishes.
 
James.

Martins

I’d say it depends on you. if you buy that 500£ jacket every year, you have a problem. but somehow I’ve come to realise 2 things the more I read PS. for me it’s 2 layer wardrobe. 1 “I don’t care but I still look smarter than tracksuit and sneakers”. and 2. “stuff that I pay as much as I can, knowing it’s supposed to last me a decade or more and I’m willing to take care about it the way it’s supposed to be cared about”

and 2. you don’t have to copy Simon and wear 5000£ shoes, coats and 600£ trousers. often it’s realising “what” you loose by paying less and if you’re happy with it, and just looking at inspiration in here. (as an example I’d never thought I find myself wearing corduroy but somehow I lived couple years in dark olive and this year I ended up with a pair of cream, 2 pairs of dark olive, and a pair caramel and sand)..

reminds me a conversation I had with a friend couple years ago. that went along the lines “you’re crazy dropping 1000£ on a motorcycle jacket that properly keeps you dry and has a 5 year warranty, I’m ok buying 150£ leaky jacket every year.”

Dr Peter

Among all your bags, Simon, the one I like the most is the vintage folio, mottled and patina’d though it may be. It has great character, and is perfectly organized inside for the essential things one must carry. I have been searching for something similar. I do have some, but not with quite the same level of organization inside, or character outside.

Dan

There are so many bag manufacturers and brands out there these days, and so, it is easy to get a decent bag at a decent price. I use a Filson briefcase for the office as it is business casual. I even use it when I wear a suit. Some may not like that or prefer a smarter briefcase, but it works for me as I do not wear a suit that much these days. I also have a small duffle bag made in the USA by Frost River. It’s good for the gym or traveling overnight or so. The only bag I cannot say I would ever use is a tote as I find it too feminine. Just my opinion. As for a messenger bag, I would use one. Although I see mostly college students and progressives using them.

Thomas

Simon, I bought a beautiful Tanner Krolle weekender many years ago before the latest designs. Don’t like the new versions with the company name clearly displayed. Looks like another designer brand in my opinion. The old versions had simple understated classic lines and I know it will last a lifetime as I take great care of it. I also have a beautiful Swaine Adeney attaché case which is made of wonderful tan bridal leather. Unfortunately it is mint condition, not used for what it was made for instead I use it to keep what I consider to be historically significant front pages from The NY Times…I enjoyed the article.

Ben

For me, practical considerations win the day with a commuting backpack. I’ve been using a Henty Wingman Backpack for about five years and it has transformed my commute unbelievably. It is essentially a cylinder with a suit bag that wraps around it (hard to explain but look it up and you will see). I ride to and from work whatever the weather now as it as a waterproof cover, and take with me everything including suit, shirt, shoes, laptop, underclothes, personal effects, and lunch. The carrying capacity is pretty unbelievable and the profile is smaller than you would expect. An ironed shirt tends not to get creased (though end of trip facilities in Australia almost always have an iron anyway). Can’t recommend it enough for the serious cycle commuter or cyclist.

Dan Hawes

While I love the aesthetic of Filson bags I simply find them too heavy when full. I have managed to find my favourite bags in Charity shops. They are as follows

– Ex RN pussars Grip. Beige canvas hopdall with leather trim. Lightweight and rugged.

-Vintage GH Bass game/messenger bag made of a gorgeous bottle green suede.

-Vintage Leather Weekender. Bought for £30 then expertly repaired by saddler Mia Sable.

-Vintage Swedish military backpack.

Kev F

I believe this is Mia Sabel. She was based in London but has since moved to Scotland, I believe. She is a saddle maker but also makes beautiful bespoke watch straps of which I have two. If you have a high quality leather bag to repair she would no doubt do an expert job on it. The website is sabelsaddlery.co.uk

Dan Hawes

Ah, posted my comment before I read this. Hope she still does repairs by post.

Dan Hawes

I can recommend her. She is north London based and has done work for one of Londons premier vintage luggage dealers. She also makes made to measure watch straps. A real craftswomen.

Felix

Are you aware of the Danish brand Mismo? I think offer nice bags in nearly all of the necessary categories and keep a good balance between contemporary and classic.

Rimowa is a disgrace. I also have an older carry-on that is objectively a good suitcase, but it was expensive a couple of years ago, and now prices are absolutely ridiculous (even worse for their unnecessary travel accessoires like – I am kidding you not – a 200 EUR nylon suitcase strap). In fact, LVMH’s vulgar marketing makes me actively dislike my older suitcase. Also, a couple of years ago, smoothly rolling spinners weren’t common. But my girlfriend has recently bought a 250 EUR Horizn Studios carry on, and the quality is really good. I wouldn’t really say the Rimowa is noticeably better in terms of function.

Would you know a good brand for bicycle bags? I occasionally see bags that are basically two separate compartments and can be folded/hung over the frame (so you have it between your legs while cycling). I always wondered why the design is not more popular given that backpacks and messenger bags aren’t good for clothes, and a tote dangling from the handlebar isn’t exactly optimal either.

Felix

No, more like a really slim “double-portfolio”. Basically if it just fits a laptop computer and a writing pad its slim enough. Maybe I can find an example.

Ian

I would recommend the German brand Ortlieb. They are durable, well designed and reasonably priced; spare parts are also available. My pannier has been used almost daily for 10 years and is probably good for another 10 years.

Peter K

I use a pannier for cycle commuting. I don’t like using a backpack on my bike because of the sweaty back it creates and the higher center of gravity it results in.

Alex

I purchased a backpack from Mismo whilst on a business trip to Hong Kong several years ago and still use it to this day. As Felix noted, it strikes a nice balance between contemporary and classic design – my backpack (which they no longer appear to make going by their website) is a lovely drab olive canvas with with brown leather and brass materials for straps/buckles. I use it far less now that I’m self-employed and work from home, but I did use it almost daily for a number of years when I was office-bound and it has fared extremely well in that time.

Felix

Yes, I really like their bags (also btw I am of course in no way associated with them other than being a happy customer). I have one of their “soft work” bags and a wash bag, and am very happy with those. In hindsight it’s a pity I only learned about the brand after buying two Filson duffle bags for sports and travel. Those are definitely okay, but the Mismo bags look much more sophisticated and urban. The price also still seems to be okay.

Peter and Ian: How do you use a pannier? Do you carry it around or do you leave it on the bike and put a nice bag in it that you takeout when arrived?

Henry Octavio

I’m sorry to disagree so harshly;
However, the tote bag seems to be an attempt to appear young and contrarian, subverting traditional masculine aesthetics, and it does not work.
The tote bag in however masculine a material, simply looks like a handbag a mother might carry around on a shopping trip with her children.
This might look somewhat acceptable in young and modern London but nobody is walking into clubland or the country with a tote bag.

Ian

I’ve used Samsonite suitcases for a long time – I find them durable, well designed and reasonably priced. Beyond that I find it difficult to justify more expensive luggage as all suitcases look equally worn after a few trips in an aircraft luggage hold. And who wants an airline to loose their high-end suitcase?

Dave

I have a Tusting Clipper bag which is great for business or casual!

Tim S

In terms of style and quality I really like French brand Bleu de Chauffe for bags. They’re all handmade in France with vegetable tanned leather and generally strike a nice balance between ‘smart’ and ‘workwear’.

They have plenty of options in the work bag category; I have their ‘Business Folder’, which might be a bit too small for some people, but perfect if you’re not a particularly big guy and just carrying a 13″ laptop around. Their Hobo bag is my weekender/holdall, and I use their lightweight Basile backpack when I go walking.

https://www.bleu-de-chauffe.com/en/

Robert

Thanks for link. Nice bags. Enjoy hearing about such boutique gems via PS readers that I would otherwise never know about.

Daniel

My first thought was what 5 bags! And then I counted in my mind the number I own. I counted 10. My favourite is a Tommy hilfiger bag I bought in Lisbon in 2005. Its a leather trim and plastic overnight bag which has and still is serving me well.

Jan

Hi Simon, many thanks for the article. Any views on Made by Nichols from London? The Instagram pictures look fantastic. Considering him as an option for a bespoke bag.

Michael

Thanks as always Simon. Your description of your different bags, and the virtues and vices thereof, provoked some thoughts about my (fairly uninteresting) journey through menswear.

In the early days of PS, when I was in my late-teens and early twenties, I would obsess over tie dimples and gorge heights. Over the years, I found that the emotional burden of looking after expensive and delicate things exceeded the joy I derived from owning them. I’m sure every reader can empathize with this. A misplaced foot by a clumsy passenger on the Tube can scuff one’s freshly polished Lobbs. A piece of gum left on the seat can ruin one’s Anderson & Sheppard trousers.

Now that I am in my 30s and and have children, my uniform is an old pair of straight-leg PBJ jeans, an ancient Runabout Goods tubular knit crewneck t-shirt, a 10 year old Filson tote bag and (shock horror) and ancient pair of brown Birkenstock Bostons. The jeans and the tote bag are wonderfully faded (and in the latter case, also chewed by one of my dogs when he was a puppy), the t-shirts are pleasingly frayed at the collar and the birkenstocks, which are on their third sole, have developed a deep patina. If I have to dress up, I wear a navy blue, single breasted Ring Jacket suit with a light-blue twill shirt, a navy cashmere Drakes tie and a pair of dark brown C&J Cavendish loafers that I bought in 2011 and are encrusted in about 50 layers of polish. With the exception of the suit and tie, these items of clothing can take abuse, generally look better with age, and can be thrown in the washing machine on the cotton cycle at 40 degrees. Because the suit is off-the-rack and my expectations about fit are minimal, I don’t obsess about imperfections in fit as I used to with my MTM suits (I could never afford bespoke and, with several children, certainly can’t now). Likewise, whilst I’ve always appreciated your understated style, I now look at the people you feature (such as Tony Sylvester and Ethan Wong) and can’t help but think that they look effete and faintly ridiculous.

To return to the subject of the piece (in a fairly roundabout way), whilst your LV case and Hermes bag are beautiful things, I can’t bring myself to covet them; they are simply too expensive and would become a source of anxiety. I know I would derive most pleasure from the simple, indestructible and comparatively inexpensive Filson tincloth briefcase – a perfect little thing.

Jake

I’ve always had my eye on a Ghurka suit carrier (“garment bag”), but wear/travel with suits less frequently than I used to… have you considered any of their stuff?

V

Speaking of bags, Simon, do you know what happened to Bown? Loved the attention to detail Judy put into her work. Is there a new project she is working on, I might not know of? Thank you!

Paul

A bit late to the party, I’ve been something of a fan of Seattle-based Tom Bihn when it comes to luggage. They have a particular aesthetic which won’t suit everyone, and target a slightly different market – the carry-on bag and everyday carry segments – with well-designed and extremely well-built soft-sided bags. Their Aeronaut 30 is a very well designed modified duffel-type design which at 30 litres could be classed as a weekender type bag; mine has done yeoman service for overnight work journeys… at least it used to, pre-COVID!

The aforementioned aesthetic may be more casual than suit-appropriate, and the target market is more die-hard one bag travellers than people wanting to carry suit jackets and the like, but their products cover a big range and are generally extremely functional within their niche. Build quality is very solid, too.

All of which doesn’t prevent me from having my eye on a Bennet Winch SC Holdall…

Richard Baker

I have 3 bespoke leather bags – weekender, satchel and dopp kit – all made to my spec and which I treasure. The others such as the folio, a few garment carriers and 2 back packs are more utilitarian. The backpacks are used daily so I am thinking of a another bespoke project there.

Dutch

Simon, a quick question about Attache Cases,

I work in a very conservative environment and industry, think double breasted suits twice a week, three piece suits the rest of the time (All Bespoke based on your recommendations, thank you for that). I was looking to get a traditional attache case (to be a mobile office), I was looking at Globe Trotter, LV etc, I do not know any artisan manufacturers, I am not sure that the dunhill or Clegg ones will be smart enough, can you help with any suggestions, it do not necessarily have to be a Attache Case, just business formal looking, not flashy, cost is not a concern.

Do you know any great manufacturers? what would be a suitable alternative?

Dutch

Thank you so much, Simon, I had never heard of Equus to be honest, I will be ordering one later in the day, please keep up the great articles they seam to be getting better and better all the time.

Dutch

Dutch

Yes, I always do when getting something you have mentioned or recommended, its just a polite way for me to spread the success and influence of the site. I am just asking them about the colours at the moment, I have some cultural reasons for this, a quick question again if can?, I was looking at the Tundra, Green leathers, do you think they would look good or should I go for something more classic in brown or tan?

Dutch

Simon, once again thank you, I have had such a great conversation with Charlie and Dawn, they are so helpful taking me through the process, discussing everything so far, even mentioning things I would not have considered at all. if you do not mind I will comment on everything when I start receiving my goods. So far everything is excellent!

Ollie E

Hey Simon,

I’ve seen a bit of coverage on Equus, Made by Nichols…

Have you heard of and ever considered trying out Peter Nitz?

I believe he used to work at Hermes but set up his own shop quite a while back.

jmehpg

Hi Simon,

I have long wondered about the Bennett Winch SC holdall you co designed… I appreciate the notion of avoiding creases, but does it run any risk of crushing lapels/canvas etc. that have been made bespoke? Thank you.

jmehpg

Cheers, Simon. Fair comment, there is always a trade off with anyway your carry it.

Kenneth

Each bag is impressive but the way you dress Simon you make it come alive..peace

John

Just wanted to advocate for two of the bags mentioned in this list: the PS bullskin tote (brown), and the Ichizawa Hanpu tote from Trunk (olive). These are the only two bags i known, but serve me nicely for formal and casual occasions, respectively. The Ichizawa is not good value, but it is abundantly useful and i appreciate the modifications that Trunk made to the standard bag: longer handles and an additional internal zip pocket.

David Flores

You probably already own more than that. “
me: yes I’m in the right place with my kind of people

Jim

I’m finding that a folio is perfect for what I need to carry around these days. I never have paperwork, I don’t usually need to have a laptop, and I spend little enough time on public transport that I don’t really need a water bottle or coffee cup. I imagine it’s the same for many others. With that said, it would be different if I had one computer for home and the office, which is probably the way things are going.