Few pieces in the male wardrobe slog harder than a work bag. We all need to get our lunch/laptop/stolen documents for Wikileaks to and from the office every day, so the right leather briefcase is the colleague you can actually rely on.
When it comes to selecting a style of bag for the 9-5, briefcases are functional, stylish, classic and, somehow, all too often overlooked.
Once attached to the hand of every businessman worth his pay packet, the hard-sided case fell out of favour with the turn of the millennium, as a result of a move towards more relaxed dress codes and the rise of business-casual dress.
Now, however, it’s been given the attention of brands ranging from the high street to the high-end, and the carrier is back, looking a world apart from the Chancellor’s Budget Box.
Thanks to a renewed approach to design and modern materials, it’s now possible to carry a briefcase without looking stiff.
History of leather briefcase
The origins of this sophisticated receptacle can be traced back to the 14th century, when early versions made from cloth were used to transport money and valuables. But it wasn’t until the 1820s, when Parisian manufacturer Godillot produced a carpet bag with an iron frame, that the traditional leather briefcase for men would take shape.
This style was later adopted by lawyers, who used the structured box to cart important documents to and from court, giving the bag its name.
These days, the briefcase is an astute choice even for non-businessmen and lawyer folk. Capable of (safely) transporting laptops, tablets and other various essentials, start using one and you will likely become a convert.
What to look for in a leather briefcase
Before you rush out and drop this month’s rent on a new bag, it makes sense to swot up on what it is you should be looking for. A leather briefcase should be functional, smart and timeles. Keep that in mind when shopping for one and you’ll come away with something that lasts years rather than months. It’s also worth being aware of the different types of briefcase available, a choice that will be influenced largely by what you use it for.
This is a document folio that features a single main compartment, a handle and can store a small laptop plus a few documents.
A minimalist piece of office kit, the sleek, compact body is almost exclusively cut from leather and typically features collapsible top handles.
A folio case is a single or double document holder for the everyday formalities, which includes a strap and is a bit roomier.
This type of case makes a good all-rounder, capable of stowing slightly more than the bare essentials.
Sometimes known as a diplomat’s case, this is the older, box-style case that you’d see in the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (or handcuffed to the wrist of a henchman in a Bond film).
Those references perhaps explain why those leather briefcases for men are not really en vogue right now, but if your everyday carry is bulkier than most, there’s no denying their practicality.