When I was a kid father had a large utilitarian leather briefcase that opened like a clamshell. It wasn’t much to look at but it certainly got the job done. The Wellington & Cromwell Hatch Briefcase takes that classic design to new heights. Made from beautiful leather, it has an elegant look that’s certain to add to your professional appearance.
Wellington Cromwell is well aware that the bag you carry as a professional says a lot about you and the work you do; as the put it:
A Symbol of Success. The bag you carry tells the world who you are. A briefcase is the traditional carry for a business man. It exudes professionalism, taste, and masculinity. It’s hard not to take someone seriously when they are carrying a briefcase.
I’m not a huge fan of the sexism represented by this quote (some of the most successful businesspeople I know are women), but if one were to tweak their statement slightly and speak about any professional, be they male or female, I would have to agree. When someone walks into a meeting well-dressed and carrying a refined briefcase, you are bound to take them a little bit more seriously before they have even opened their mouth.
When looking to design a new briefcase the company went back to the iconic design of World War II era bags. Those bags we large, had spacious storage and opened at the top in order to provide complete access to the content.
When using this design as their inspiration, the company set out to include the same ease of function but in a bag that looks classy rather than utilitarian. I would argue that they succeeded.
A Luxurious Hatch. We drew inspiration from WWII era bags when creating our opening mechanism. Our briefcase is the first briefcase to open and close with a hatch like this. It’s a much more decadent approach to bag design, producing far more build quality.
After designing the opening mechanism, they then turned their attention to their choice of materials. Because they were creating a luxury item, they opted to use the best materials possible. The result is a bag made of beautiful, refined leather with brass hardware. The leather is not, however, just any leather. They chose to employ top grain leather in the construction of the bag in order to have a uniform look and feel. They succeeded and explain the decision this way:
100% Top-Grain Leather. We strongly believe that top-grain leather is the proper tier of leather for a professional’s bag. Although full-grain is widely regarded as the best leather, with full-grain you get blemishes and marks – which are not fashionable.
Moreover, they explained,
We could have easily used full-grain leather in this briefcase, but we intentionally used top-grain. We do not want this bag to patina, because we envision most of the people who will buy it live in major cities and are working professionals. In our opinion, a patina is a more rustic look – kind of a cowboy western look. Plus, top-grain leather can have blemishes and marks – which again is a more rustic look. We wanted our bag to look brand new indefinitely (no patina), and we wanted it to look fresh and polished at all times.
The bag was originally being funded on Kickstarter but, sometime after launch, they decided that instead of crowdfunding the project they would, instead, simply self-fund their initial inventory. Between that decision and their choice to market directly to customers (thereby cutting out the middleman), they are able to offer a premium product at a reasonable price.
So let’s take the tour around the bag.
Along the top and going down the sides the way are brass bands. These give the opening of the bag a finished look. The two sides meet perfectly which not only gives the bag a finished look but also helps protect whatever is inside.
At the top center, there is a larger piece of metal that releases hatch. When a bit of pressure is put on one side, the hatch is released. Then you can open the top of the bag and can reach in and access whatever is inside the bag.
On either side of the bag, there are leather handles secured by strong stitching and rivets.
Along the front of the bag, there is a small, easy access storage pouch. The brass clasp has a solid feel.
With a twist, the clasp is released and the leather flap protecting what is inside can be lifted to expose the storage space.
The interior of this pouch has no organization to it, but is perfect for your odds and ends.
In the lower right, there is a shiny medallion with the company name. I don’t love this sort of marking on bags, but this is stylized enough to simply look like a decorative accent. I’m okay with it, but would have preferred not having it there.
The other side of the bag has a brass zipper that opens to reveal an additional storage spot. It’s rather narrow and lacks any organization, but it is perfect for a few papers, a Kindle or an iPad, or other small, thin objects.
On either side of the bag, there are brass D rings to which the included shoulder strap can be attached.
The leather strap is made from 100% leather and perfectly matches the bag itself.
Brass hardware gives it a classy look, and the release mechanism allows you to remove the shoulder strap seconds.
They do a great job of making it easier to carry the bag if you need two free hands.
The bottom of the bag has six small pieces of brass so that, when placing the bag on the ground, the leather is raised from the surface. It’s small details like this that make it stand out; it’s obvious that when designing this bag the company took a great deal of time and put a great deal of thought and effort into the process.
When the latch at the top of the bag is released the bag opens to reveal the main storage space. This isn’t a large bag, so you won’t be able to carry as much as you might in a large, voluminous backpack, but it is large enough for most work needs. On one side, there is a compartment for a laptop or iPad. A fabric strap comes down over it and is secured with Velcro so that, once your computing device is put inside, it is secured and won’t move around.
The other side has some small, open pockets. There are three equally sized pockets at the top and an equally sized pocket and a double sized pocket toward the bottom. These are enough for business cards, pens, tables, external batteries, etc.
The bag looks fantastic and the latched design is definitely unique. The choice to use top grain leather accents the finish with no blemishes whatsoever. The leather handles have enough padding to be comfortable in hand, and the shoulder strap allows you to go hands-free when need be. In all, it is clear that the company set out to create a bag that is unique, and by that measure, they certainly succeeded. This bag looks and functions differently from any bag I have. No, this isn’t a bag you’re going to want to carry if you to take a lot with you; for those situations, you are definitely going to want to consider a large backpack or one of the many large bags we’ve reviewed over the past few years. But if you need to carry a laptop, some papers, writing utensils, and other work items, then this is a great choice. It looks professional, it carries pretty much what any professional would need during the day, and it’s competitively priced when considering the build, materials, and target audience. At $300, this certainly isn’t inexpensive, but it looks like something that probably cost far more than it does.
Exquisitely Made. Every last detail of the design was carefully planned and considered. Countless materials were tried and tested until we found the perfect match. Our briefcases are all “factory-to-wardrobe”. We’ve cut out the middlemen & luxury markup.
I’m rather impressed and very much like the bag, although I suspect that I’ll be asking Raina if she wants it; I think she’d look great walking into a meeting carrying it. You can check it out here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Beautiful leather, quality brass, and refined construction; unique design that looks great and functions well; Three storage locations; Metal “feet” raise the bag from the surface upon which it is placed
What Needs Improvement: Not as much storage as other bags I have reviewed Minimal built-in organization