Monday, March 25, 2013

Getting a Briefcase for Men

Buying a bad is not as simple and cheap as you'd think. A messenger bag (purse) is like a backpack and a backpack like a purse: you just use them to store stuff while you're traveling. You can definitely put your personality into both items, and it can be a status symbol, especially for women. But for some reason, this all changes when you get into briefcases.

In terms of practicality, a backpack leaves both hands free with a reliatvely equal distribution of weight. It is a bit difficult to get things out of your bag on a whim though. That's where the purse comes in: hung over a shoulder or across your body, you can reach in and out at any time. The problem is that the weight is shifted to one side of your body or across your chest, which may hinder your ability to breath. Other than access, the messenger bad has become a fashion item -- it just looks more professional and "better". And we finally arrive at the briefcase, a device that is mainly designed to be held in a single hand with fashionability at the top of its list of priorities. Why give up the use of a hand if it's about access or storage?

Okay, that's not completely true. Say you have a really expensive jacket or wardrobe that you don't want to mess up. This isn't wrinkles I'm talking about, this is friction, ripping, and stretching. I have not had a single item wear out from overuse and contact with a bag -- yet -- but who's to know. Being a big spender, these things start coming to mind.

Other reasons include getting tired of the lack of access to my backpack, the bulk it takes up behind me, and the annoyance of having to take it off all the time. Also, there's the weight of the messenger bag messing up the alignment of my spine, shoulder pains, and dealing with the strap slipping over my shoulder constantly.

The reasons that I want a briefcase are for the lack of a strap, the style, and the lack of rubbing against my expensive shit. Now to find a bag!

Upon some basic research, it looks like the briefcase world is a very expensive hobby. There are faux leather bags out there, but style is paramount because of the sheer inconvenience of a briefcase -- to snobs like me at least. To clarify some metrosexual terms, the solid shell briefcase is no longer "in". When I say briefcase, I mean a leather bag that may or may not have a strap. It must have a handle though as the focus is on something to carry in one's hands.

Being cheap, I set my price limit at $450, which is pushing on the expensive side already. It may cut you off from the more expensive brands. Just remember that a briefcase is like a suit except it can actually be passed down, doesn't need tailoring, and is timeless. Timelessness is one of the key justifications I use when buying expensive fashion related items -- it floats my boat, just let me have it. Disposable fashion like most of the stuff you find at H&M, Forever 21, and Old Navy are excellent because they're cheap. Paying exorbitant amounts of money for things that last a season just doesn't do it for me.

So, on to the stores I checked out. Being a dumb metrosexual, I went to my standard retailers including Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew, Roots Canada, and that's about it. Canada rocks in that way -- not as many huge retailers as the US of A. If I bothered, I'd be able to find more stores, but meh, I like my go-to brands. Lazy metrosexual.

Roots Canada is my preferred store. Prices are in the $300 and up range. In the list of stores I noted, Banana Republic has some also expensive choices, as does J.Crew. Being clothing focused, their choice is rather limited. Roots is leather focused and bags are a large product line, so lucky us.

They (Roots) has unique lines of bags every season and they have their "classics". You can guess which line I'm leaning towards. The good thing about their "classics" is that they are simple: not too flashy, not too complicated, and boring in a good way.

The go-tos that have been available for a while are the Old School Tribe and Roots Original Briefcase Tribe. Both are pretty big bags, so if you want something smaller, go with the Small School-Tribe. It says it's for men and women, but Mr. Google says it was featured in a movie with Amanda Seyfried and lalala, it was a much sought after item for a year. All of the three bags have straps that could be useful if you ever need a free hand or want the option open.

And I'm not going to lie, I was a short term owner of the Original Briefcase. The detail is that I bought it as a gift, then decided to get the person something else. Kind of wanted to keep it for myself, but three-hundred fifty dolla after tax -- I didn't feel the need at the time. It was a large bag that looked great even on my small frame. And don't let the straps to close the bag confuse you, they are mainly for show with an easy to use buckle hidden behind them. I might be leaning towards the Old School Tribe though -- it's a tough call.

I do wish they kept a black, single buckle, more fashion-forward briefcase in their product line longer. It was available a year or so ago and looked great. The only concerns were the $400+ price and zipper on the back (scratchy scratchy?).

And that was briefcases. If you do have money to blow, check out Macy's, Coach, and other expensive stores. Lot more options for a lot more money, but "timeless", right?


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