Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
Briefcases typically come in three flavors: nylon, cotton canvas, and leather. All of these types have their own pros and cons, and we’d like to explore them all, but all in good time. Today, we’re focused on leather briefcases: a wide category in and of itself. With leather’s inherent durability and versatility, it’s easy to find a briefcase that will last regardless of the formality level you’re looking for.
1) Copper River Bags: 14″ Medium Journeyman
One commonly suggested brands of entry-level, leather bags is Copper River Bags, and with good reason. The bags, while rustic in appearance, are made of thick, high-quality leather with understated designs. While this bag comes with no gimmicks, it also doesn’t feature any of the details you’d expect on a bag in a high price bracket. But for those who don’t want to spend a bundle, keep a rotation of bags, or just don’t know how often a briefcase will realistically see the light of day, the Medium Journeyman is a perfect option.
2) Gustin: Horween Briefcase
Gustin is known as one of the first, and inarguably most successful, of the crowdsourced selvedge denim brands, but maybe they should be known for something else. Say, their Horween Leather Briefcases. Made from a range of the famous, Chicago tannery’s leathers, these bags feature matching brass hardware throughout, a range of pouches and pockets for all your daily items, and quality construction and reinforcement to ensure is as sturdy as possible. Sadly, a round of crowdfunding just ended for these bags, but keep your eyes peeled if it’s something you’re interested in.
3) Vermilyea Pelle: All Leather Briefcase
Vermilyea Pelle is a small-time leather goods manufacturer, and they do things right: small runs of products, quality materials, and high standards throughout. This All Leather Briefcase is constructed from Horween’s Whiskey Bison Cavalier Chromexcel, a beautifully colored leather with a ton of texture to boot. This bag is finished with straps crafted from Wickett & Craig’s harness leather, hand hammered copper rivets, and a brass zipper closure. While this bag features minimal compartments, there is certainly enough room and division for whatever you need.
Available for $675 at Vermilyea Pelle.
4) Barbour: Leather Briefcase
Barbour’s Leather Briefcase is a simple, classically designed briefcase that makes an ideal daily bag or travel companion. It’s inarguably a Barbour product, what with its iconic tartan lining, and features a double, roller-buckle closures with push-studs for faster access. Designed with both a leather handle and strap, this briefcase is as versatile as it is attractive. It’s a fair bit more formal than some of the other bags on this list, making it perfect for those whose jobs require them to dress both up and down.
5) Valextra: Cross-Grain Leather Briefcase
It’s hard to look at Valextra’s Cross-Grain Leather Briefcase and not all in love with it just a little bit. Sadly, its price point is prohibitive for just about all of us, but it’s far too gorgeous to not include on this list. Made in Italy from a cross-grain embossed calfskin, this bag features silver hardware with keyed access, internal pockets and slots for your goodies, and a curved handle to make it comfortable to carry. If you work in a formal environment and have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, you really can’t go wrong with this briefcase.
Available for $3450 at Mr. Porter.
Plus One — Brooks Brothers: Leather Briefcase with Retracting Handle
While Brooks Brothers’ Leather Briefcase with Retracting Handle isn’t the cheapest option on this list, it’s pretty close—and that’s a rarity for our coveted Plue One slot. Designed with a stitched handle that slips right back into the bag, this briefcase’s design has, believe it or not, been used dozens of times in the past. That said, this iteration is certainly a beautiful variation on the theme. Made with cognac-colored leather, this briefcase is beautiful, refined, and ideal for your office job.
Available for $298 from Brooks Brothers.