Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reasons to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

The thought of putting hundreds of dollars into a simple bag that will carry your goods is often understandably troubling. After all, why spend hundreds of dollars when you can just spend fifty to do the same thing? However, you should know these facts as you go about making a decision on how much to spend.

Personally, I have not seen another industry that more truly reflects the cliche “you get what you pay for” than the leather industry. Competition is so fierce that any attempts to raise prices dramatically over market rates will quickly result in bankruptcy.

longevity through durability

Because of the high quality components on a good bag you won’t have to buy another one again, until you want to.

There are leather organ bellows that are 40-60 years old that still work perfectly because they have been well maintained. The Swiss Army used leather bags in their pack trains and examples can be found in excellent condition over 100 years old. Is someone going to be carrying your bag in 100 years?

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Saddleback Leather

classiness

For example; take a close look at a Basader bag vs a Cole Hann bag. Is there any comparison?

That Basader bag’s leather is thicker, the thread is better, the hardware is far superiour, the engineering is more robust, and you get to work with a small personal company. Philip & Elin are great. Their bag is going to last MUCH longer.

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Basader

patina

Time and use will destroy a cheap bag but a quality leather bag will keep on trucking. It is only going to look better with time.

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Kenton Sorenson

Pass your lifetime bag on to your children.

Instead of a garbage pit.

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Thrux Lawrence

Why have a bunch of cheap bags over your lifetime when you can have one far superior bag that you will greatly enjoy?

Use your leather bag every day and you will develop a working relationship with your leather bag that you would never have with a cheap bag. You trust it. It serves you well through the decades. It is your trusty leather bag.

colorado-pullman-1
Skytop Trading

It makes strong financial sense.

How many cheap bags and backpacks have you purchased so far in life? How many will you purchase in the remainder of your life? What does the value of all those bags add up to? What’s the cost of a quality bag again? Doesn’t sound so crazy now does it?

vintage-messenger
Whipping Post

For example:

7 nylon landfill bags X $50 each = $350 = one quality leather bag

So, what are you waiting for?

read more in the “Buy It for Life” series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

Thrux Lawrence Dispatch Messenger Bag Review – $450

For the past few weeks we have been reviewing the canvas and leather Dispatch messenger bag from Thrux Lawrence and are thoroughly impressed with its usability and durability. This bag is bringing serious competition to well established companies such as Filson and Duluth Trading. The Dispatch is the Thrux Lawrence model of a messenger bag. Thrux Lawrence large carry goods are all made with heavy 24 oz canvas and Horween leather.

Previously we have reviewed the Thrux Pack as well as a the Key Post from Thrux Lawrence.

Many thanks to Matt Leitholt for shooting several of these excellent photos.

aesthetic

The rule of thirds is a commonly known rule in photography and design. For some reason, things look good segmented into thirds. No one knows why but if you analyze the dimensions of an Aston Martin or a famous photo it will be designed in thirds. Much of the Dispatch design follows this rule of thirds, loosely, and consequently looks decently sharp.

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You can buy the Dispatch in sixteen different color variations between color options in leather and canvas. The colors are muted and tasteful and give a lot of style options. The dark burgundy leather looks more collegiate while the whisky color is more casual.

Tanden, the owner and designer of the Thrux Lawrence brand, has included some interesting visual details as well. For example, on each bag from Thrux there will be an original vintage photo slipped into a side pocket specially included for that picture.

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Each bag is marked with it’s generation number and batch number since they are manufactured in limited runs.

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functionality

Carrying this bag on a daily basis has been enjoyable because of it’s excellent style and functionality.

The Dispatch measures 13″ tall by 16.5″ wide by 5.5″ deep which lends itself to carrying quite a bit. Plus, the flexible canvas allows more room for goodies.

Here’s a picture of the Dispatch as it went with me to Philadelphia. As you can see I have quite a bit stuffed in. A DSLR with lens, an extra lens, 13” MacBook and charger, Saddleback Leather Moleskin Cover, iPad, paperwork folder, and various sundry items like headphones and pens. It is very full. The weight of the bag was a hefty seventeen pounds.

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One of the complaints with the Thrux Pack was a lack of individual storage compartments which basically forced everything into the large main compartment. This is not so with the Dispatch. There are six pockets to separate out your goodies.

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A zippered pocket in front sporting a #10 zipper from YKK. Plenty to hold small items such as keys and headphones.

Thrux Lawrence Dispatch Review photos2

Thrux Lawrence Dispatch Review1

A pocket for your laptop charger. The main compartment which is obviously big enough for a large camera and an extra lens. The document pocket will fit a couple books or quite a stack of paper. Finally, the laptop slot will fit a 15” laptop nicely and even stretch for a 17″ laptop.

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While it will fit an enormous load I appreciated that the design looks great when not crammed full. Some bags slump and fold up if not filled to capacity and the Dispatch is not one of them thanks to the rigid double stitched leather base.

The leather handle is perfectly comfortable and is secured with four rivets and copious stitching.

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At first I was concerned that the gap between the side and the top flap would allow water into the bag but as soon as the bag is picked up the gap is pinched shut against the top flap by the shoulder strap.

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However, I do have one gripe about the shoulder strap. The snaps that hold the shoulder strap on the bag will suddenly disconnect if the strap is twisted when you pick it up due to the orientation of the d-rings pushing against the brass snap gate. Thankfully this only happens when you have a grip on the shoulder strap and only one unclips at a time so you have a chance to catch the bag before it falls on the floor with your expensive things inside. We did mention this flaw to Tanden and he is sourcing new hardware which will remedy this.

Thrux Lawrence Dispatch Messenger Bag Review04Update: 2/18/14

Thrux Lawrence has replaced that hideous hardware with some killer clasps. These are unlike anything I have ever seen and are perposterously expensive, but so be it. They have a locking mechanism and won’t ever repeat the mistake of the first clasp i.e. involuntarily disconnecting when the bag is picked up.

Thrux Lawrence Clasp Update2

Thrux Lawrence Clasp Update4

construction

Seventeen pounds is a lot to be carrying on one shoulder while marching through the endless corridors of the Minneapolis airport. Thankfully, one certainly doesn’t have to worry about the bag coming apart. It is built hefty. The base plate that makes up the foundation of each Thrux bag is double stitched and composed of multiple layers of leather. The leather base has a 600 pound pull apart strength, you know, just in case.

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The hardware is all brass, #9 solid rivets (these can break weak snips), the leather is a heavy 9-10 oz, and the 350 denier nylon thread was sourced from a top secret facility that restarted production just to supply Thrux Lawrence. The hand hammered rivets that are used pinch the leather all around it instead of letting the rivet hole take all the burden and potentially rip out.

Thrux Lawrence Dispatch Messenger Bag Review03

The chrome tanned leather is sourced from the well known Horween tannery which has been around since 1905. As well known and as high quality of leather that Horween produces they are not easy to purchase from. Because of the high demand for their leather it can take a while to be taken care of and I have personally heard from more than five leather companies that say wait times, shipping costs, and attention to detail is often lacking. But, the leather is good. Perhaps the recent surge of popularity in Horween goods will motivate them to improve their service.

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the Thrux Lawrence store

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Tanden just opened up his first store in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and it is a visual treat. Literal bombshell light fixtures, a 1947 pool table, cafe motorcycles, an attached barbershop, and of course the Thrux Lawrence goods. It is worth a visit if you happen to be passing through Spokane or touring beautiful north Idaho.

BestLeather conclusion

At the $450 price point you have a variety of options in canvas and leather. Filson, Duluth, and Frost River come to mind. However, none of their materials compare with the heavy thread, #10 YKK zipper, lush Horween leather, 24 oz canvas (filson uses 22 oz and MUCH lighter thread). It is no contest if you are looking for a bag to serve you and your generations well.

Check out the Dispatch from Thrux Lawrence here.

Thrux Lawrence Dispatch Messenger Bag Review10

Can A Lady Wear A Rugged Leather Bag? Absolutely!

This is a guest post by Kristin from Los Angeles, California.

I’ve had this bag since August of 2013. I liked it when I first saw it but since then I have grown to love it more and more.

Marlondo Leather Classic Briefcase Review1

It’s a beautiful coffee brown Marlondo Leather Classic Briefcase. It has a strap that can either make it a one shoulder briefcase or a backpack. That feature is extremely useful because of the weight of the bag. I am a young lady and not terribly weak, but this bag is heavy when you put a computer and a few books in it. I have a huge dell laptop (which adds a lot of weight) and so when I had it during school I couldn’t take it to all my classes like I needed too because I didn’t know about the backpack option and the one shoulder that it was hanging on started hurting really badly. However, I soon learned how to make it a backpack and since then I have had no issues at all.
Marlondo Leather Classic Briefcase Review6

It has two main pockets, two smaller pockets on the inside, and one pocket on each end outside the bag. The leather is strong and durable. There was a time where I accidentally dropped it with my computer in it but the bag protected my computer and it had no damage whatsoever. It holds and protects its contents quite well.

It’s very professional looking and perfect for my meetings with photography clients.

Marlondo Leather Classic Briefcase Review2

Like I said before, I used my bag primarily for school. I was using it on a daily basis taking my books and computer to classes and in that way, the bag is tremendous! I also have used it as a camera bag. It protects my gear as well as holds it all with plenty of room.

The bag is extremely durable. It is extremely comforting knowing that I don’t have to worry about it falling apart and breaking. The wear and tear that the leather gets looks awesome and as time goes on the bag simply looks cooler. It has some scratches on the front but they add character to the bag.

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I get comments and compliments on the bag everywhere I go. People are very impressed with the quality and appearance of the bag. It’s very classy and professional looking. I feel pretty cool walking around with it.

Marlondo Leather Classic Briefcase Review3

Review of The Beast – Saddleback Leather’s Large Duffel Bag – $907

“Holy Cow”!  I think those were the first words I uttered when I opened up the oversized box and pulled out The Beast.  I purchased The Beast Duffel bag from Saddleback Leather as a Christmas present to myself.  It is a bag meant for hauling serious gear, and can be found in Saddleback Leather’s luggage section.

Continue reading “Review of The Beast – Saddleback Leather’s Large Duffel Bag – $907”

White Wing Label Canvas Tote Review

White Wing Label Tote Review4

White Wing Label was founded in 2010 by two brothers out to live a dream. That dream was to create 100% American made textile products. Three years later, that dream is fulfilled in White Wing Label, a company based out of Texas that makes men’s luggage and equipment. Bestleather.org had the opportunity to review a new tote that is being added to their product line.

functionality

This tote from White Wing Label is a simple, yet timeless bag. It is a good blend of durability and class. The sturdy construction equals a solid bag that should resist wear and tear. The straps have small brass hardware, giving it a nice touch without being too industrial.

White Wing Label Tote Review3

construction

The construction is a solid canvas with a fully lined interior and leather straps. It appears like it would be easy to wipe off if something were spilled inside. Empty, it stands up without falling over, which is always a big plus when I am looking into getting any kind of bag.

White Wing Label Tote Review1

pockets

There is one interior pocket with a zipper that is almost the width of the bag. It is a very shallow pocket which can be good or bad depending on your needs. It is good in that you won’t have to be fishing to the bottom of a large pocket looking for a small object- it is bad in that it is just barely deep enough for a wallet. There are two pockets on the sides of the exterior, ideal size for a water bottle or glasses case.

White Wing Label Tote Review6

Bestleather conclusion

Overall this a nice, sturdy tote that would be well suited for either a man or lady’s weekend travel bag.

Far Horizon Traders Sahara Bag – Six Month Checkup

This is a guest post written by Peter who is a drafter at a foundry. He has been using the Sahara bag for six months.

You can read the original review of the Far Horizon Traders Sahara Bag here.

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wear

Even in the intense environment of foundry work and the dirt and grime that can be acquired there, this bag has stood the test of toughness and continually demonstrated a hardy design. There has been no fraying of the leather around any edges and the only real sign of degradation is the missing button on the left side of the bag, which fell out after a few months.

New Horizon Traders Review09

functionality

The functionality of the bag is impressive. Every book needed for school, a laptop, and even some lunch can be contained in the bag and nothing would be protruding, yet still easily accessible. The shoulder strap guard is inconveniently placed, as it cannot be adjust to be used on both sides, only one.

The amount of pockets and dividers inside the back is convenient, allowing for separation and protection of goods placed inside, while the same time, not being too much. The thickness of the leather gives great protection for anything placed inside.

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patina

Due to me taking this bag to a multitude of places, i.e. a foundry, coffee shops, and school, it has acquired a unique look, from metal dust staining the bottom and back, to the worn look of everyday use. None of the acquired characteristics in any way diminish the bags looks or functionality, but instead add to the character of it and make it more enjoyable to use. This bag’s sturdy construction and how it can handle the wear and tear make it fit in perfectly in my working environment, yet it’s style allow it to stand out.

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compliments

This bag has brought me compliments left and right, it has great functionality, a beautiful look, and a tough character that earn my respect for it. It is definitely a bag I would recommend.

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overall impression

I am surprised that it has already stood up to so much, in the rough conditions it’s used in, and still in the shape that it is.

If the small durability problems are ironed out; this will be a great bag.

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 New Horizon Traders Review07

The Basader Messer Leather Briefcase Review – $315

There are endless designs for high quality leather briefcases and a lot of great options to choose from. In my opinion, this is the best value briefcase considering all the factors. Let me explain how and why.

Basader operates out of Brooklyn, NY and is run by Philip and Elin Antonelli. They first started on Etsy and have done very well on it. In May, 2013 they were the featured store on Etsy in recognition of their quality products.

the beginning

Philip & Elin have a background in design and fashion. Elin worked for Ralph Lauren and Philip worked in the fashion industry in website design. The problem they saw – and many others – is there inherent disposability in fashion products. So, they started designing and built a few briefcases to sell on Etsy. The rest is history. Their products have been a hit and as I have been fortunate enough to experience, they are well designed and crafted. Now you can also buy their products on basader.com as well as Etsy.

As with most great leather products, their construction principles are simple and follow the company philosophy of providing value through design and durability.

the bag

I got the Messenger Briefcase with no divider which fits my 15″ MacBook Pro perfectly. I should say, right off the bat, that I recommend always getting the divider. Without it, your laptop is in danger of being scratched by pens, keys and other objects with rough edges that you may have in the bag. Nevertheless,this dilemma can be remedied by just getting a sleeve for your laptop instead. Also keep in mind that while you can squeeze in a 17” laptop in, the tight will be very fit and I wouldn’t really recommend it considering the “scratch-hazards”; this includes the metal rivets on the interior’s side that would be impossible not to hit when you are trying to fit in a bigger laptop. Maybe that is just me…

I used a SBL Moleskine cover between my laptop and the pens to insulate it from scratches.

Despite the lack of divider, it can still be said that the interior is well thought-of. The collection of pockets inside are very usable, and there seems to be a snug compartment for the usual business necessities such as cell phone, pens, cards, notebooks and a small assortment of paper documents.

sleek styling

Philip & Elin’s collective experience in the fashion is evident in this briefcase’s design. The exterior is a handsome mix of sleek minimalism and old-school vibe. Notice the absence of visible rivets in the facade; this gives it a solid and smooth appearance that just tempts you to run your palms over it . And with such beautiful leather as its canvas, the result is impressive. The Hermann Oak leather that was used for this bag has a strong, deep color and a subtle sheen that’s not tacky but rather, extremely classy.

the build

Overall, the Basader Messenger Briefcase has a sturdy structure. The leather used is known not only for its aesthetic appeal but for its durability as well. Simply put, your prized laptop among other belonging will be well-protected inside. Hefty pieces of this Herman Oak leather are put together with clean double stitching. All of the rivets and buckles used to attach the strap to the actual bag are top-notch, nickel plated brass.

If there is any cause for concern it is where the straps meet the bag. If you are toting this on a rainy day, there is a risk of water seeping in through these gaps. I suggested this improvement to Philip and he enthusiastically agreed it could be improved on. It is neat to handle these products and work with their makers to make them even better. Sometimes an outside eye can spot previously unnoticed details.

comfortable shoulder strap

The shoulder straps do an excellent job at dispersing the load. I can easily imagine lugging this around all day without straining my shoulders. The padded part is also adjustable, ensuring a comfortable fit despite the adjustments in the length. This is something that you need to take into consideration if you are the type who is on the go for much of the day. You wouldn’t want your briefcase to be dragging you down or leave you wincing.

I must say that it is nearly perfect save for one flaw: there is a long “tail” left hanging when the strap is adjusted to be short.

This might not be that big of a deal for some but can be totally annoying for others. However, I wouldn’t count this against such a hardily-made bag with an impeccable design. But then again, this was addressed to Philip and true sport that he is, he promised to look into it and work on an improvement.

Best Leather conclusion

There’s not much to be debated about when it comes to getting the Bassader Messenger Briefcase. Though you might have to get extra protection for your gadgets to save it from scratches and from drops of moisture (should you decide to use it on a rainy day), it is still the best of briefcases at this value because:

  1. It has excellent space.

  2. It has a polished design that makes it a very handsome daily companion.

  3. It is impeccably constructed with excellent quality components.

  4. It is very comfortable to handle.

The only reason why you would consider something else is if you have a bigger laptop or carry more load daily than this bag can fit in. It is stellar.

In Portland With The Basader Messer Bag – A Teaser

Basader-Messer-Bag-in-Brown

This lovely week sees me in Portland Oregon for work. I was fortunate enough to bring along the absolutely gorgeous bag from Basader ($300). While I have not concluded a review of the bag yet, here  is a short montage from this evening’s excursion.

Basader-Messer-Bag-in-BrownBasader-Messer-Bag-in-Brown

Basader-Messer-Bag-in-Brown

Basader-Messer-Bag-in-Brown

Basader-Messer-Bag-in-Brown-keychainIn summation, the Basader Messer Briefcase is proving – so far – to be a well-made and beautiful briefcase suited for business and casual use while erring on the side of fantastically classy.

 

Mmmm… New Leather Products From Marlondo Leather

Ma, the owner of Marlondo Leather, has been busy the last few months redesigning their website and product line to be more durable and usable. It’s gone well as you can see. Marlondo Leather has upgraded the quality of leather they use (imported from the United States), added durable pigskin lining, and implemented some hefty brass hardware.

Expect to see more from Marlondo in the coming months as they get all the products listed on their website and develop new ones. I love that golden brown hue of leather. Sign me up!

It will be interesting to get our hands on the new product line to examine the changes in construction and material. The photos sure do look amazing.

The Marlondo Leather Messenger Briefcase – no longer offeredMarlondo Leather Briefcase Thin

The Marlondo Classic Briefcase – $398 to $428Marlondo Leather Briefcase Classic

The Marlondo Leather Classic Briefcase (single space) – $269 to $339

Marlondo Leather Briefcase Single

The Marlondo Leather Brass Buckle Belt – $44.50 to $47Marlondo Leather Briefcase Belt

Passport Wallet – $24

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 What do you think?

The Best Etsy Stores Selling Handmade Full Grain Leather Bags

Etsy has an overwhelming amount of leather goods, perhaps too much. Here is a selection of some of the better options on Etsy.

One of the excellencies of Etsy that larger leather companies cannot easily emulate is the uniqueness of each product since they are handmade. You can have a bag that is like none other. Of course this can have its drawbacks if the maker does not have a critical eye for quality control. A reputation for quality counts for quite a bit in the handmade world.

Peter, the CEO, CFO, CMO, CTO, and production manager at Bay Towne Leather USA (it’s a one man shop) responded with this thorough explanation when asked if he planned to expand his operations in response to interest from a large online retailer.

Hi TJ,
Nah, I just want to keep it a one man shop. Two at the most. I may be wrong, but it seems there’s a fine line between hand made and volume. When the large retailers become involved and want a piece of the ‘action’ so to speak, before long you’re right back to mass produced crap. There’s no other way around it…

For instance, I can teach 5 people to hand stitch, and increase my volume, but I would be hard pressed to find 5 people who wanted to work that hard! LOL.

I could add lasers to cut out the leather, but it then becomes machine produced.

So, before i know it, I’m outsourcing my hand sewing someplace else… and I’m using machines to produce my goods.

It takes a couple years to learn how to hand stain leather… as it’s more of an art than a science. Before you know it, i’m no longer hand staining and using the predyed leather the tanneries produce… like everyone else is using… because I can’t stain it fast enough to keep up with the volume the retailers want.

Problem, Nobody knows how to do anything in the US anymore. We’ve been outsourcing skills so long, the work force doesnt’ have the will or the skill to do certain types of work. It’s a double edged sword. And if they did the work, then you have a lot of other (people) problems that creep into the mix.

So, for me, staying small is the only way I can do it. I was a professional accountant for 14 years, with all the frill and chills the rat race had to offer. One of the main lures to leatherworking for me is that’s is a WAY OF LIFE that’s gone by the wayside. That’s why I love it. I don’t want to ever do anything to make it a ‘rat race’.

Sorry about the rambling. But we are walking a fine line between MONEY and ART. Right now, I choose to keep it as an art….with sufficient money to live within my means and be happy with what I’m doing.

Putting this list was quite enjoyable. I hope you appreciate these works of art as much as I did. My personal favorite is the leather satchel by Cratgo.

American Dry Goods

postal mailbag with horween dublin leather

– postal messenger bag – $450 –

BasAder

simple messenger in pullman brown

– the messenger in pullman brown – $280 –

Black Thorn Leather

black thorn leather full grain messenger bag

– antiqued leather briefcase – $475 –

Cratgo

Cratgo hand stitched leather satchel

 the hand stitched leather satchel – $495 –

Diaz Bags

Diaz Medium Leather Messenger Bag

– medium leather satchel – $285 –

Divina Denuevo

Divina Denuevo leather messenger bag

– Devina brighton leather satchel bag – $400 –

Heirloom Leather

grizzly bear portfolio leather briefcase

grizzly bear portfolio briefcase – $319 –

Hell Brand Leatherwork

horween chromexcel leather briefcase

– horween chromexcel briefcase – $650 –

Leather Finer Work

honey leather messenger bag

– honey messenger bag – $225 –

Little Lion Man Leather

Little Lion Man wood teak briefcase

– wood teak briefcase – $400 –

Luscious Leather NYC

luscious leather leather satchel bag

– the flat flap satchel – $295 –

Perfect Moment With You

perfect moment with you leather messenger bag

– handtailor briefcase – $473 –

Sizzle Straps

sizzle straps goliath leather camera bag

– the goliath leather camera bag – $550 –

Stronge Eye Leather NY

william james 256 leather briefcase

– william james 256 leather briefcase – $775 –

Rustic Leather Co.

rustic leather messenger bag

– buckskin messenger bag – $199 –

WCS Leather Goods

WCS Leather European Briefcase

– european briefcase – $450 –

Did we miss any gems? Please let us know what you think in the comments?