Leather briefcases are just like leather jackets: If you're not going to buy a real one, opt for something else. Fake leather, or super cheap leather, looks like plastic, and it only gets worse as the item goes through the wear and tear of regular use.
So if you've been pining over a Saddleback Leather briefcase but can't justify dropping that kind of money, don't settle for a pleather knock-off, opt for something else like canvas.
This briefcase by Beckel Canvas is made from thick canvas, reinforced with leather at the stress points, and the handles are made from 2″ cotton webbing. I've been a huge fan of Beckel since I first received their Possibilities Bag for Christmas a few years ago.
I've pounded it as a gym bag and carry-on, and it is still in fantastic shape. The briefcase is made just as heavy-duty as the Possibilities Bag and will no doubt give me years of use.
The unlined inside has two side pouches and the outside has a full length zippered pocket on each side. It's big enough to haul my laptop, tablet, and a couple of thick books, plus whatever else can be jammed in the side pockets.
Unfortunately a nice leather briefcase may be out of place in many offices, or may be just too bulky for your needs. This rugged canvas bag is an excellent compromise of classic styling and functionality and is at home at a coffee shop or a board room.
Pick one up at Beckel Canvas for $52.