Things you should make out of leather: Briefcases. Golf bags. Wallets. Bondage gear. Bicycle seats. Shoes. Club chairs.
Things you should not make out of leather: Jogging pants.
We admit the senseless lack of utility is high here. A pair of leather jogging pants is essentially a sign to the world that says, "No, I have absolutely no intention of jogging today, or ever."
But when we try to picture JFK wearing these things, we can't do it. Paul Newman? Nick Nolte? Steve McQueen? Johnny Depp? Nope, nope, nope, nope — not even Johnny Depp. Jennifer Lopez' fourth husband, a 24-year-old back-up record producer named Ziqué? Yes! Now we are pretty sure such a creature does not actually exist. But his pants do, and these are them.
We have been watching this Jil Sander collar for what feels like years now, wondering who might pay $1480, then $589, and now $147.25 for this item. On the one hand, we were conceptually intrigued by Sander's merchandising innovation — she was trying to appify or unbundle something that had traditionally been considered a part of a shirt or jacket rather than a standalone accessory. On the other hand, there was the item itself, which always made us think, "Damn. Somewhere, there's a really toolbaggy, circumcised leather jacket walking around." Now, months later, the snipped foreskin, er, collar, can be had for a 90% discount. And yet sizes S, M, and L are still available. Verdict: Unsafe at any price!
Q: First off - thanks a lot for all the tips!! Great stuff!!
I am out hunting for a great laptop bag in the under-$500 region. I really like the looks of the Billykirk schoolboy satchel, but it doesn't serve my purpose since I fly a lot for work, and the lack of any zippers and additional pockets makes it painful. Could you provide me with a few MB recommendations for a laptop (13 inch laptop and an iPad) bag which is also utility focused (a couple of zippered pockets, no belt buckles - takes too long at the airport, has a strap to attach to a stroller handle). Also I would like it to be sleek (I don't care for laptop padding - don't like the bulk) and would prefer it not being made with nylon. I wear open collar suits to work and am 26, so I would prefer it not being too college like but also not something my dad would use.
I know its a lot of requirements. Is there anything out there? —TJ
A: If there's one domain where a senseless lack of utility loses a little bit of its gravitational pull on our hearts, it's airports. Translation: Sure, we get that you need fewer buckles and more pockets than the Schoolboy has to offer when, say, you're trying to make a connection at O'Hare.
For business travel luggage, we like Mandarina Duck. Much of its product incorporates nylon and other synthetics — but note that we're talking Italian synthetics here, and "avant-garde" synthetics at that.
For your purposes, we're going to point you toward the Sistema Workbag. A mix of leather, cotton, and polyurethane, it's as functional as it is sleek — lightweight, compact, but spacious enough for your electronics, with a suitably sub-divided main compartment and an exterior pocket as well.
Taking its aesthetic cues from 80s-era post-modern design, it has nary a whiff of the Ivy League or Dad's study about it. But it will continue to deliver timeless on-the-go style in today's airports, tomorrow's airports, and probably in whatever the 22nd century's architects dream up too.
At only $219, it's well under your price range — but that just mean you'll have more to spend on drinks and car service on your next trip.
We want to get a special gift for my son's 21st birthday. We are thinking a leather messenger bag. Recommendations? —Erik
First, pour you and your son a couple of MBs. Then, sit down and have an important conversation about the virtues of forbearance. Why are you having this conversation now? Because we're about to recommend a bag that is currently out of stock.
It's from Billykirk, and it's called the No. 236 Schoolboy Satchel. We specifically like this version in Brown Dublin leather from Horween. Which unfortunately sold out very quickly and is now out of stock.
We think the name is a bit of misnomer. These days, schoolboys tend to carry Cordura backpacks, or if they're on the path to MB-dom, maybe waxed canvas. All-leather bags, on the other hand, are generally a hallmark of adulthood. And not just adulthood. To our eye, most all-leather briefcases read as "middle-aged banker."
That's why we like the No. 236 so much. It projects substantially more maturity and sense of purpose than a backpack does. But it still has an obvious sense of play about it. And it's not too big, so it's impossible to weigh yourself down with this bag. Finally, the No. 236 in Brown Dublin has an especially artfully disheveled look to it, which we obviously appreciate. All of these factors make it perfect for a 21-year-old, and worth the wait until it's available again.
That might be a while — we have asked Billykirk if there is a target restock date and will update this post if we hear anything. But the No. 236 in Brown Dublin has a timeless style. Indeed, in 30 years or so, we suspect it will be something your son will be able to hand down to his own 21-year-old. So we encourage you to encourage him to take the long view. And in the meantime, pour yourselves another MB. The days, months, and years go fast.
UPDATE: We've received a reply from Billykirk: "We may be releasing a few more of the Dublin in the coming weeks, but we are currently working with a new leather for the Spring season. These should release online towards the end of March."
Based on this news, our advice remains largely the same: Wait. More specifically, sign up for the Notify Me When Available option on the Brown Dublin page, then wait. If the new Spring season version appears before the Brown Dublin does, who knows? Maybe it will also be a viable option.
If you and/or your son absolutely can't wait — and simultaneously have truly long-term patience, J. Crew is selling a version of the No. 236. It lacks the overt artful dishevelment and rich character of the Brown Dublin version — but it is available immediately. And a decade or so of hard use will undoubtedly improve its richness and resonance.
Most skateboards look like they were designed by graffiti artists who ran out of buildings to deface or flunkies from the local art school. Or both.
In stark contrast is the MAKR ox blood deck, custom shaped of white walnut, hand stained, with individually numbered leather risers. Normally $80, it's 15% off — like everything else at makr.com — while owner/designer Jason Gregory is vacationing in Europe*. At just $68 for something that looks like it should cost at least a couple of hundred bucks, this is one of the best values on the whole internet.
* He left March 22, so this sale will likely be ending soon. (An MB correspondent tells us that while Mr. Gregory is on vacation, orders still ship quickly. His key chain arrived just a few days after the order was placed.)
The iPad 2 is out and it's 33 percent thinner than the original model, or as we like to think of it, 33 percent more breakable. But here's the good news: Because the revolutionary iPad 1 is now officially obsolete, it has been discounted to $399. Which means that if you buy one now, you can apply your $100 savings to the purchase of a Kenton Sorenson iPad Portfolio.
Unlike iPads themselves, which are made in China by morose factory workers whose hobbies include low pay, overtime, and suicide, these portfolios are tanned, cut, oiled, and stitched by hand by a retired barber in Wisconsin who clearly derives substantial satisfaction from his labors. Craftsmanship this fine can only spring from passionate engagement.
If God permitted the Amish to play Angry Birds, or whatever it is people do on iPads, these would definitely be their favorite iPad covers. Indeed, these things are so plain but purposeful, so perfectly rendered, that every time we look at them we try to think of reasons why we might want another tiny electronic gizmo to clutter up our lives. We haven't come up with one yet.....but if the new low price of the heritage iPad is your personal tipping point, you know what cover to buy.
Q: I don't normally shop at Zara, but I've found some decent pieces in their collections. I've been looking at their faux leather motorcycle jackets. In your eyes, are they a worthwhile investment? --A Bastard Striving To Be Magnificent (Manny)
A: We are not familiar with Zara, but unless you drive a motorcycle, we don't even recommend real leather motorcycle jackets. And if you do drive a motorcycle, why get a fake leather jacket? That's like screwing Sophia Loren, then activating an e-cigarette instead of lighting up a Marlboro.
Q: Fall season is upon us, and I really need to get a leather jacket. Recently, GQdid a piece on popular leather jackets for the upcoming season but I wasn't sold on any of them. Where can I get a timeless leather jacket that won't break the bank? How about this one from Banana Republic? --Christopher
A: We weren't sold on them either, Christopher, and we're not really sold on that BR jacket (bottom) you're suggesting, either. It's just one epaulette away from Members Only.
Unfortunately, Arthur Fonzerelli's most lasting cultural influence was irreparable damage to the leather motorcycle jacket. He's basically the sun, and that BR jacket is the equivalent of wearing Icarus's wax and feathers. And we all know how that turned out.