Every man needs a toolbox.
Something that protects his daily instruments, and looks great too.
For generations, this took the form of tough steel boxes that were not only indestructible but designed in bright reds, blues, and greens. The gentlemen carrying these weren't simply technicians, they were craftsmen; artisans proud of their work who knew how finished a job looked was equally important to its longevity.
And just because your daily tools may not be hammers and wrenches, doesn't mean you shouldn't protect them.
One of the first accessory purchases a man makes after he's shown an interest in improving his appearance and how the world perceives him is some sort of “toolbox” to proudly carry the instruments of his work. It's not hard to understand why – standing in front of a mirror with an outfit perfectly balancing layers, colors, and form, and then slinging the messenger bag you've been shuttling around since sophomore year over your shoulder completely negates your style growth.
It's a cliche that one of the first things a woman notices is a man's shoes. They represent an attention to detail, a personal style beyond utilitarian, that defines more about a man than the pattern of his shirt or how well it's tucked in. And shoes are a relatively small percentage of the outfit as a whole. Now imagine a 16″ rectangle hanging off of your body. Your suit fits? Who cares – that Targus computer bag from Circuit City just killed the whole thing.
The problem is, as soon as you start looking into more dapper alternatives, the price immediately makes the prospect impossible. I'm a big fan of Saddleback Leather briefcases, but if you're not in a place in life where you can drop $400 on a laptop bag, what are you going to do?
I've been doing Primer for a long time – since 2008 – so I've come across a lot of cheaper leather briefcases and messenger bags. And the problem with any that are sub-$150 is that the leather looks so cheap, even when new.
Should we expect a frugal leather bag to look good after years and years and years of wear? Of course not. But if we're going to spend our hard earned money, we at least want it to look great when it's new.
Unfortunately those requirements meant we have to leave the idea of a leather bag off of the table and go for something like canvas. There are a lot of affordable canvas bags out there that look great and are made well, stay tuned for more of those.
But what if you really want an affordable leather briefcase?
What if you want the best leather briefcase under $100?
Then I've got just what you're looking for.
While doing research for a series on budget alternatives for canvas bags a la Filson I struck gold. I came across a beautiful leather briefcase on Amazon from an Italian company called Baccini.
The most amazing part? It's only $89.90.
I was skeptical, as we always should be, of affordable leather products, especially when they only have 8 reivews on Amazon. But the leather looked surprisingly nice in the photos and I dug the overall design – minimal and modern. So I pulled the trigger and hoped for the best.
It came 2 days later (Thanks Prime!) and I was smitten immediately. This bag is real leather. The details of what kind it is and where it comes from are sparse. But it's clearly an oil type leather, with qualities of nice “pull up” leathers. This gives the bag a look and feel of something that should cost much, much more. The advantage to this kind of leather is that it wears well, but also because scratches can be rubbed out with your hand or with a damp cloth.
It also smells amazing, which I know is the first-line test every guy checks for on a leather good. 😉
One of the reasons I like the soft and unstructured leather construction is that it allows for overstuffing. My Saddleback bag is a tank, but its leather is thick and you can only fit so much in it. (Not to mention, it weighs a lot too.)
The Baccini bag has a nice finished lining with a ton of pockets and features:
- The main interior compartment has two open pockets on one side and a deep zipper pocket on the other
- On the outside, both sides have deep, full length zipper pockets
- On the front side, there's a vertical zipper for a gadget pocket that would fit your phone or mini tablet
- Leather handles with nice muted silver buckles
- Perhaps the one detail that impressed me most is on each end of the main zipper are magnet closures like those found on nice purses
- It includes a laptop sleeve that has a velcro closure
- It comes with a cotton shoulder strap
The construction feels solid (apparently it's handmade). The leather is better than expected. It's roomy and versatile for everyday use and it looks like it cost a lot more than it did.
Will this bag last you years of tough wear? I doubt it, but I only say that because of its perceived durability based on price. It might last you forever if you care for it properly. It does look great and I believe you'll definitely get your money's worth. I've been using it daily for a little over a month and love it. Inspect the photo gallery above and then make the purchase, I bet you'll be as excited as I was.