Three Year Old Leather Laptop Case Wearing Well.

“I’ve been lugging my work laptop around in a Babila briefcase with a padded laptop pocket. It’s brown leather (well, they said “cognac”. It’s brown) and, I think, looks quite nice, especially in a more formal business setting.


Castelletto boardroom leather briefcase

I got it about 3 years ago from The Leather Briefcase Company here in the UK, and paid about £110 for it. It’s wearing quite well.”


This was posted [ ARS Open Forum ] in 2011, and I just stumbled across it on the net. It’s been a tough week so far, and this has been a big lift for office morale!


” We have had quite a lot of threads about this sort of stuff. As a result of one I was introduced to The Leather Briefcase Company.

I now have one of their man bag things but got one of these for my son at Christmas, and ended up getting myself one.

More or less in your budget and a real nice company to do business with.”

Our day has been much improved.

From Russia With Love, The Bison Leather Car.

As the regular reader of the leather briefcase blog knows, we try to inform and entertain on the subject of leather, and other items we believe are of interest.

The word “unique” is bandied about too much. Nothing is almost unique, or practically unique, it’s either one item with nothing at all like it, or it isn’t!


Here it is, made in Moscow, a car with leather upholstery inside and out!

A word of warning, this might look a bit the worst for wear if you go out in the rain.

To sort out any problem you’d need to go to a specialist, and you’d be sure of getting a very large Buffalo Bill?

[ That’s what’s known as a “unique” sense of humour. Ed. ]



The Shoe and Allied Trade Research Association was set up nearly a century ago in 1919. Its role was to advance technology and research primarily in the leathergoods industry, with a major focus on footwear at the beginning, but spreading to cover many other areas. An important development in SATRA was standardising the testing of fabrics and components, and as a reliable reference point for this.


Originally founded in the UK, the reputation of the organisation is such that international offices and laboratories are now in both the USA and China, and full information is available here

The typical work that it carries out would now include projects like testing flameproof materials, safety harness equipment, body armour, furniture durabilty and chemical analysis across a wide spectrum.


One of the footwear programmes that SATRA was involved with was the development of the special climbing boots used by Sir Edmund Hilary and his support team that conquered Everest in 1953. This footwear had to be light, waterproof, and very tough. Not only that, it had to cope with foot perspiration in a way that allowed it to escape, without the vapour freezing. The design and testing of the boots explored the use and construction of a novel selection of materials. Kapok insoles, rubber outer ankle seals and a built-in vapour extrusion system, combined with top quality leather produced the ideal item. None of the twenty climbers in the team suffered any frostbite on their feet, a remarkable result.

SATRA continues this kind of work now, and is a central reference point for material testing and delivering top standards in Health and Safety.




See You Later Alligator.


It’s an old joke, but here goes.

The buyer is looking at some hide and asks “Is this genuine wild alligator?”….to which the salesman’s prompt response is ” Wild? It was absolutely livid!”

A further addition to the never ending process of learning about the leather trade came this way recently with the news that you can buy the latest wild alligator jacket from designer Rick Owens autumn range for a cool US$54,000. [ Fifty four thousand dollars ].

The fact is that this leather is amongst the most expensive in the world.

Alligators are a protected species in the wild. They can still be found in the the USA’s deep south, famously in the Everglades.

There’s a Chinese species, but it’s much smaller and valued for its medicinal use, rather than the skin.


There’s around 200 businesses in Florida and Louisiana where alligators are farmed. They are a tourist attraction, but the real commercial pay-off is the meat and the hide.

Naturally this skin has a very distinctive pattern, and traditionally has been used for bags and shoes.

The tanned hide is valued by the centimetre, whereas most leather is sold by the foot or metre. And we’re talking about £25 per cm, or hundreds of pounds for the whole piece.

There’s a lot of wastage, because the belly and extremities are relatively poor quality: it’s the thick highly patterned back that is most valued by the fashion industry.

Just for the record, there’s a thriving trade in producing leather with snake, crocodile and alligator look-alike finish. As leather is a very easily worked material it can be put in a press and the required printed finish readily achieved. It really does look exactly the same!

So the bet is that the $54K jacket will shortly be available for rather less in a High Street near you.

Investing In Old Leather Boots.


The leather briefcase crew were much entertained by a repeat of “Flog It!” on BBC TV recently. It was a replay of an auction held at Tamlyns in Bridgwater in 2011, and the star of the show was a pair of size 42 leather boots.

These enormous black boots were made as an exhibition item by Rhodes Rawling of Halifax, in the late nineteenth century in the Balmoral style. That’s a lace-up design that goes right up above the ankle, to cover the lower calf. Shame there’s not a picture handy to show the scale, but I reckon the sole was about two foot long, and the height possibly three foot. [ no pun intended ]


The estimate was £600, but to the amazement of the owner, and the expert who valued the item, the bidding was very competitive and the final price when the hammer fell was £3600!

There are a number of these boots around apparently, but often the turn up as singles, as you’ll see in the Clark’s Museum in Street.

However what we came across the other day was another auction of size 42s at Christies in London.

Was it the same pair? Whether it was or not, the price they sold at in the West End showroom was £11,875.

That’s a pretty good investment in leather. Someone must have blessed his soles?

Alternatively, if you’re looking to invest in a top quality briefcase, here’s a good place to start.


Leather Briefcase Competitors

The Easter Bank Holiday weekend allows us to check more carefully our competitors in the leather briefcase trade.

Most normal people take a complete break from business! but then we’re not…..

Firstly, let’s point this out. Google, in its mathematical way, decides who you see as the most relevant answer to your search for a “leather briefcase”. In recent times they’ve decided that companies that have names like The Leather Briefcase Company have an unfair advantage, so it’s been dropped down so many pages it’s practically out of sight. If you’re interested it’s called an Exact Match Domain Penalty.


Instead of specialist suppliers, you can find eBay on page one. It’s quite an effort looking for leather briefcases there. Their search system is so broad that you’ll find thousands of items that really are not relevant. You’ll find imitation or faux leather is included, the exact opposite of the real thing! You’ll even find plastic backpacks under this heading.

Here’s a couple of actual live examples.

“New Mens Leather Handbag Messenger Shoulder Briefcase Laptop Bag Business Purse” – it’s a messenger bag! Or there’s “High Quality Mens Faux Leather Business Laptop Briefcase Satchel Work Case Bag” – it’s a synthetic satchel!

Besides  eBay, you’ll see Debenhams, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer on page one as well. For the record, many customers have told us of their visits to those stores. The quality offered is OK, but the ranges and prices are not always impressive.

Others on page one may include Ted Baker, Mr.Porter and Tustings…again you pays your money [ lots of it ] and buys the brand.

Amazon is on page one too. Just remember that any firm selling on leathergoods on Amazon is paying around 20% commission for the privilege, i.e you, the customer, are going to pay that overhead. However you do get the assurance that the sellers are continually monitored and you’ll be dealing with a reputable supplier.

We did pop out to a local shopping High Street. There’s a leathergoods shop there that I called on as a young rep in the 1970s. It was closed on a trading Sunday. The window display was so sad I came away thoroughly depressed.

So let’s cheer up and show you that you can get top designs and value here, and invite you to check out one of our consistent top-selling computer briefcases. Many thanks for visiting our website, and please bookmark us for the future.



Leather Briefcase Aftercare

Following a few basic rules will keep your leather briefcase looking good, and ensure it lasts longer.

1. DO NOT overload your case. If you put too much in it several things will result sooner or later. The seam stitching will either break, or the leather be torn away. The handle will fail. Locks will be strained and ultimately no longer function. All this is pretty obvious, but worth stating as the basic starting point.

2. DO store carefully. Leather should be looked after, even when not in use, preferably in a dust bag if you have one. Keep out of direct sunlight or a hot dry atmosphere. Also cold and damp is to be avoided, as this will encourage mould growth.

3. DO take immediate action if your briefcase gets wet. Dry as much moisture as possible from the surface and lining with a soft clean cloth. Pack the inside with newspaper to absorb any remaining dampness inside. Leave in storage at around 10 C or 50 F, so it may dry out naturally. Once dry, polish or other leather revivers may be necessary, see point 6.

4. DO NOT store different coloured leathers so they are touching. The darker colour may well stain the lighter one, and the result is permanent!

5. DO NOT use perfume spray or any other pressurised vapour products like glass cleaner near a leather bag. Again this can affect the colour, permanently.


6. DO check carefully when you buy your leather briefcase what maintenance is recommended by the seller. If you cannot get information then, check with an experienced leather company, like Westbury,

Some leathers need hardly more than an occasional wipe as necessary, others will benefit from using the correct cream, balsam or oil to preserve their appearance and working life.

Look after your leather, it’s beautiful.

We’ve no hesitation in pointing you to our very own collection of carefully selected leather briefcases.

Save Our Shops!

There’s more awareness of the state of the UK High Street now than at any point in my fifty year experience in retailing.

The recent Portas report has been presented to Parliament, and fiercely debated in the media. The fact is that more changes have come about in our shopping habits in a very short space of time. The High Street has now become dominated by malls and shopping centres, or has been overshadowed by an out of town development.

Either way the independent retailer has been hard pressed to keep pace and place.


The internet is now a major influence. Four out of five shoppers will research products on line, and can then choose to collect from a store, often on the same day, and usually within 24 hours. Internet researchers will be comparing prices and reviews about both the product and the retailer, and if the independent shop is not featured by Google, that’s a major problem.

Despite the reports, there are more new shops opening than closing. The  newcomers include nail salons, tattooists, pawnbrokers, take-aways and charity shops. Featuring high in the closing ranks are entertainment stores, bookshops, florists, newsagents and furniture. However, it’s worth noting that almost half all the new shops will fail within two years.


Also another quite simple fact is that one retail shop in seven is empty. They are in the wrong place, and would be better used as offices or returned to use for housing?

Darwin’s idea is really relevant to the High street. It’s survival of the fittest, be they bigger, stronger, faster or more able to compete than their neighbour.

Meanwhile, should you be searching anywhere for a leather business case try

Luxury Leathergoods Exports From EU

The very best leathergoods brands are still made in Europe, particularly in Italy.

Export sales from the EU show some remarkable results in recent years.

The statistics below are from the five years 2007 – 2011 inclusive. [ in millions of euros ]

Hong Kong is the biggest export destination, up 133% from 589m to 1373m. The old British colony has flourished in recent years and has a deserved reputation as the top shopping destination in the world.

Japan has always been dedicated to top brand sales, but in this period imported leather goods actually fell slightly from 990m to 979m, reflecting the long period of stagnation in its domestic economy. Also lots of Japanese were buying in Hong Kong!

leather shoulder bag in chestnut colour

The Westaway leather shoulder bag above is available in dark brown and chestnut and is an example of quality leather craftsmanship.

The USA is also a top export market, and has moved up from 932m to 1011m. Russia has languished with sales static at 335m.

The really startling figure belongs to China. From a negligible 61m euro intake of EU leather goods in 2007, the total has shot up nearly 400% to 295m in 2011.

The world’s trading patterns have certainly changed radically in recent times, as the creation of wealth has shifted significantly, but the demand for the very best quality remains unchanged. The prospect for European luxury leather and life-style brands is looking bright!


Briefcase Repairs


Naturally enough, our company receives quite a few queries about the upkeep and repair of leather briefcases.

Many of these don’t relate to our own products, but we never mind trying to give advice that can solve a problem. One of the most common faults is a rivet or fitting that has broken, or a strap that needs repair.

The first thing we need to know is the brand and age of the item, and photos are a great help.

Some leather companies are still going, and so spares are available.

For example, The Leather Briefcase Company is now the UK distributor for the Ruitertassen brand. These styles have been in production since 1927, and a full range of spares is available from us.

However if the briefcase is quite old, parts seem unavailable but it’s an old favourite that you’d like repaired, there are other options.

Simple things like a rivet replacement probably can be dealt with by your local cobbler.

Timpsons have over 1100 branches throughout the UK, and you can look on their website to find the nearest to you.


The internet is a great way to find a specialist repairer if required. For example search “leather briefcase repairs” followed by your location, and you’ll find plenty of options.

Broken leather carry handles and shoulder straps pose a different problems. You may be able to find a bespoke maker who can match your requirement.

Metal fittings are offered by quite a few outlets, and eBay is worth a visit for these.

Also “Cox the Saddler” is one of the sites worth taking a look at as they hold stock of various locks and fittings.

Another idea is to look out in your local charity shops, which usually have a collection of serviceable leather bags on sale at bargain prices. You may find the strap or a part of an old style that will solve your problem.

An alternative way to find a missing part is to advertise. Gumtree and many other free ads directories could be the way to find a rare fitting or component.

Finally, please feel free to send us a photograph[s] of any problem you may have, whether or not we supplied the original item.

Our advice is free, and we’ll try to keep your old favourite briefcase fit for use.

 Joss Ollett.