Twelve years ago in India, Fabrizio Giuliani, an Italian teaching English to Tibetan monks, found a guy making “cheap” leather bags to tourists. Falling in love with unique qualities of the leather, he decided to use that leather to create his own bags with enhanced durability and construction techniques. Satch & Fable bags are created using the Buddhist concept of Wabi-sabi which finds natural beauty in imperfection and impermanence.
The most unique aspect of this satchel is the full-grain goat leather. Goat leather is naturally lighter and more water-resistant than cowhide. Fabrizio describes this leather as Moroccan leather. Although this leather is actually from India, it is tanned using traditional Moroccan techniques. “Traditional” Moroccan leather tanning is not nearly as pleasant nor easy compared to mechanized Western techniques. In a nutshell, the leather is arduously hand-washed at least five times. At the fourth wash, the leather is “shampooed” to remove odors (from what I’ve learned, this is the ESSENTIAL step). The leather is then gently dried in the sun for 2 hours, re-wet, and then hand-rubbed. Goatskins are smaller than cowhide so up to two goatskins are used to make a single bag. Because of the sourcing and traditional tanning methods, no two bags will ever be alike.
The goats are raised and sourced locally from Rajasthan, and the tanned skins are brought to the village workshop for construction. There are only 3-5 local workers who produce these bags by hand. The brass buckles and rivets are also from India. Vintage sewing machines are used to place the cotton stitching.
This satchel breaks all the rules. It does not have a 100-year warranty. It is not made from military grade materials or imported fabrics from Italy or France. It will not stop a bullet for you. This bag is not 10 lbs. This bag is a lightweight, casual alternative to the rugged beast bags out there. My particular satchel is 13’’x10’’x5’’ although various size options are available. It comes with three internal compartments with a padded one just for your laptop, two zippered pockets, and an external front pocket. This featherweight entry to the satchel arena is a welcome reprieve to the pounding that my shoulder has taken from my full-grain cowhide briefcase that I use for work.
Who knew imperfect could be so beautiful? You can see every blemish on these tanned goatskins but they are subtle and gorgeous. This bag is not pretentious nor does it try to be something it’s not. This is one of those kids you hated in college – someone who doesn’t have to try, but always looks good and grabs all the attention. Out of the bag, it seems like a bag that has been loved for many years but there’s still years worth of aging and patina left for you to do on your own. There are darkened shadows and creases at just the right spots. The leather is so soft and light yet tough. According to the Wabi-sabi concept on the website, there may be an imperfect stitch here or there, but I can’t find a single one.
Here’s my favorite part – you really have no idea exactly what your bag will look like before you get it. Because of the traditional hand-tanning method, your bag’s leather may look COMPLETELY different than the next one. Opening up the bag is like opening up a Christmas gift or pulling a fish out of water.
The Satch & Fable 13’’ Leather Satchel with Pocket at $139 is a welcome alternative to the heavy full-grain cowhide bags flooding the new-entry market. It won’t break your back and it won’t break your bank. This bag is perfectly imperfect. If you’re looking for a beautiful broke-in bag that can save you several years worth of patina this is it.