Back in March of this year we posted an article on an up and coming leather goods maker called Origins Leather Company. (You can see that post here.) Origins posted a Kickstarter Campaign that was successfully funded and helped jump start their brand and products.
Origins Leather Company was founded by Aaron Dean, Erik Sjolie, and Michael Sjolie. They formed the company in order to introduce high quality leather goods for both the business as well as the casual user. A commitment to the highest quality production, the highest quality leather, and the highest quality hardware was one of their founding principles. That introductory article in March has led to a review of their Classic Briefcase, on which BestLeather recently got our mitts on.
As those who have had the experience of opening a box with their newly arrived leather good understand, the smell of the leather is usually the very first impression. There was no exception when I opened the box that contained The Classic Briefcase. The leather smelled terrific, as it usually does with vegetable tanned leather. I have often heard that one way (albeit not always 100% accurate) to distinguish vegetable tanned leather and chrome tanned leather is by the smell.
Considering vegetable tanned leather is tanned using natural and organic ingredients, the leather smells a little more natural. I asked Erik Sjolie why they used vegetable tanned leather instead of chrome tanned leather. The main reason was environmental friendliness. As a company, they wanted to produce goods that were environmentally friendly and vegetable tanned leather certainly has a significant leg up on chrome tanned leather in that department.
My next impression was how soft the leather felt. I have handled plenty of high quality leather goods, but for some reason the leather on The Classic Briefcase felt very soft. It felt as good as butter tastes. The feel can be attributed, I am sure, to the blend of oils and waxes used to finish the leather, but whatever the reason, it felt nice.
Like all of Origins leather goods, The Classic Briefcase is made from five to six ounce leather. That is thick leather for a bag, but it does not feel too thick and is not too heavy. The bag weighs in at only 3.8 pounds, a relative lightweight compared to some other classic briefcases we reviewed. One main reason for this is that the bag is unlined. I actually prefer my leather goods unlined. I really appreciate the finished side of leather, but also the unfinished side. It seems to give the bag a more natural feel and look. The unfinished side on The Classic Bag is very smooth, with no loose fibers and looks great.
The Classic Briefcase is made in “Old Mexico” by the same company that has been producing other high quality leather gear for many years. There is always a concern when buying expensive leather goods from an unproven company that you are not sure what you are going to get. Let me put your minds at rest and tell you that you have no need to worry about the quality of any of Origins leather goods. They are made to the highest of standards and with the highest quality products by a trusted and proven company.
The briefcase is made from five main pieces of leather: the back and flap, the front, both sides, and the bottom. If I tried hard to find a gripe with this bag, it would only be that the bottom of the bag is its own separate piece, which connects the front of the bag and the back of the bag. In other words, Origins did not use one solid piece of leather to go from the front of the bag all of the way to the back of the bag and then to the flap. Technically, one piece of leather would make the bag a little stronger, since the stitching is typically the weakest link. This does not concern me though for a couple of reasons:
First, Origins uses two straps to secure the bag, which run from the front of the bag, down the bottom and up the back to the flap. The straps are riveted to the top of the bag and are secured with loops on the front of the bag. This means that the straps serve to give the bag structure and support. The straps are also made from two pieces of five to six ounce leather sewn together and are therefore very hefty. There is no way that these straps would fail–unless you tied them to the back of your truck and attempted to tow your boat with them.
Second, the bag is sewn with marine grade polyester thread. Polyester thread is significantly stronger than the cotton thread that many manufactures use, but is also three to four times stronger than the nylon that other high quality leather goods makers use, so the bottom of this bag will never have any issues.
One benefit of using a separate piece of leather for the bottom is that the bag tends to sit a little flatter. If you use one piece of leather for the front, bottom, back and flap, then the bottom tends to bow just a bit. You don’t have this issue when the bottom is its own piece of leather.
The Classic Briefcase has a compartment for a laptop up to fifteen inches (my 15″ MacBook Pro fits snugly), with a small additional pocket for keys, phone or other paraphernalia, as well as two pen holders. The rest of the inside is a larger compartment to stash the rest of your office gear, paper, lunch, or other necessities. There is also another piece of leather sewn to the back of the bag where you can stash the morning paper, a magazine, or–more likely these days–your IPad. The bag itself is 15 3/4″ wide, by 12″ high, by 4 3/4″ deep.
The bag also comes with a carrying strap for hoisting the bag onto your shoulder or across your body for easier carrying. The strap is made with two pieces of leather sewn together and is fully adjustable. It has a shoulder pad that is just the right size and has plenty of padding.
The Classic Briefcase is riveted together on major stress areas by solid copper rivets and burrs. The top of the bag has a one inch strip of leather that secures the handle as well as the bag straps. There are six rivets that keep this strap in place. There is a rivet that fastens both the front of the bag to the side, as well as the back of the bag to the side, on both ends of the bag. This is not totally necessary, as the polyester thread would probably be adequate to keep the bag together, but these rivets reinforce the bag and ensures it will not come apart. The D rings on each side of the bag are also sewn and riveted.
As far as I have found, these solid copper rivets and burrs are the toughest types of rivets you can get. What happens is that you punch a hole through the leather pieces that you want to rivet, place the rivet head and post through one end, put on the burr (basically a solid copper washer), and pound the washer tight onto the leather. The post is then nipped off, and the remaining post is pounded until it mushrooms out and virtually becomes one solid piece and virtually indestructible.
The D rings and center bar buckles for the straps are also made from solid brass, as are the swivel clips and buckles on the carrying strap. The result of the excellent hardware, as well as the premium leather and solid construction is that Origins offers a 100 year warranty on their products against defects. Only a serious belief in the quality of your product would lead to a warranty like that.
The Classic Briefcase from Origins Leather Company is constructed with excellent craftsmanship, is made with some of the best leather you can find, also happens to be more environmentally friendly, and is a beautiful rendition of a classic style. The bag is roomy enough to carry everything you need for a day at the office, but light enough to not feel bogged down. The “trunk chestnut” color is beautiful and will eventually wear into a beautiful patina. At $425, the price is right for a high quality bag that will serve you and your posterity well for many years to come.