Thursday, December 23, 2010

They'll fight over it when you're dead.

ome time ago, I (ahem) "borrowed" a Herman Miller tote from my company during the dotcom bust.  That was some nine years ago, and since then the canvas has frayed and the bag has begun to look ratty.  It has other uses still, but it's not going to do for client meetings.  Time for a new bag.  I wanted something elegant and timeless, and I also wanted something rugged and strong.  I was looking for the Louis Vuitton steamer trunk - but in a tote.

My first thought was to turn to my trusted source of Swaine Adeney Brigg - maker of fine umbrellas and leather products.  Their briefcases are gorgeous - hand stitched leather of the highest quality.  But there was a problem - price.  A small attach√© started at $2,625 - and that just seemed a little high.  So I kept searching.  What I found was a lot of so-called "luxury leathergoods" companies out there that concentrated more on style than on manufacturing.  If you're the type of consumer who is looking for a beautiful bag that will last you three to five years, options abound.  Unfortunately, that's not what I had in mind.

Then, I found it - and in a place that kind of surprised me:  San Antonio, Texas.  100% full grain leather, UV resistant large gauge sail thread, nickel plated hardware, rivets, and devoid of zippers, snaps, buttons and anything else that might fall apart.  The company is the Saddleback Leather Company, and their motto is "They'll fight over it when your dead."  Their site is a joy to read unto itself - it's both informative and humorous - speckled with colorful analogies such as, "A billion dollar submarine with a plastic hatch is soon just a really expensive fish tank."  (Reference about not using breakable parts...)

Backpack configuration
When it arrived, I was not disappointed - it was everything it claimed to be.  You can feel the tank-like construction in your hand - and it's no wonder that it carries a "100-year warranty."  I thought the whole concept of using the strap as a shoulder strap or a backpack sounded a little gimmicky - but I've quickly discovered that I like the backpack configuration a lot - so I use it everyday.  The pigskin lining that is used - the same used on a football - has some amazing durability - it's not going to get punctured with a pen or with loose keys.  The leather is thick and heavy and pristine, and it's the kind that will look better with age.  I just wish I could fast-forward its existence a bit so I can have that patina now!

Yessiree - I'm sold.  If you read the comments coming from other customers, you'll see that quite a few people have become addicted to Saddleback's products.  I'll be buying more as well; there's at least two other bags I want pretty badly.  If you're looking for top-quality leather products, start here!

--A

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