Leather Bag Hunting in Downtown Chicago Finds Poor Quality And High Prices

A two week business trip takes us to Chicago, where in the free time we walk the downtown arena in search of choice leather in the fashion corridors.

In summary, nought was found. Many leather bags were found, none were full grain leather, much less quality leather, all were far more expensive then they should be, and every single one was being sold as an excellent long term investment  in quality leather (laughing out loud). Note that all of these photos were taken in supposedly high quality fashion stores.

Don’t fall for the fashion hype, even the goods on Etsy do a much better job delivering enduring quality for good prices.

My mental equation for value evaluation is:

(Construction Quality + Aesthetic Design)/Cost = Value

It means that high cost items are good value as long as the quality and aesthetic levels are equally high as well. Note that his is how I personally value the worth of an item. Others may weight details differently and come to different conclusions. Also, there is an personal sense of style that greatly influences perceived value (i.e. Apple Laptops).

Both construction quality and aesthetic design are percentages subjective relative to the level of quality you expect from the product.

Lets see how this works out with a real product. Lets compare the Paul Stuart Duffel and the Coronado Americana Leather Duffel.

The Paul Stuart Duffell costs $847


  • Uses stamped top grain leather for most surface areas, handles are full grain leather.
  • 3 oz leather (thinner)
  • Lined with polyester
  • light brass hardware
  • unknown warrenty
  • unknown orgin
  • 4 pounds
total construction score: 50% fails to impress
  • very nice beige leather color
  • pleasing proportions
  • functional carry handle and carry strap
total design score: 50% fails to impress

The Coronado Americana Leather Duffel Costs $749.


  • Uses full grain Horween Chromexcel leather (legendary leather tanned in Chicago)
  • 5-6 oz leather (thicker)
  • Lined with canvas
  • heavy brass hardware (#10 brass zipper)
  • reinforcing straps to bear load from the handles
  • lifetime warranty
  • 7 pounds of stunning craftsmanship
  • made in America
total construction score: 100% excellent craftsmanship


  • heavy usage of quality brass accents
  • suave brown oiled leather
  • complex and functional aesthetic design (the strap attachments points flex upward easily,
  • design does not hinder functionality
total design score: 100% excellent design

I conclude that the Corando Leather Americana Duffel was designed and constructed with twice the care.

Lets apply the equation to the Paul Stuart Duffel: (.5+.5)/$847=0.0011 value

Now lets apply the equation to the Corando Leather Americana Duffel (1+1)/$749=.0023 value

Here we can see the mathematical expression of the quality with price factored in, making the Coronado Leather Americana Duffel twice the value with almost $100 less cost.



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