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italian leather briefcase

The Evolution Of The Paolo Briefcase

The Paolo 3-section classic briefcase was the flagship product for Maxwell-Scott and it remains one of our best-selling briefcases. Nevertheless, over the years, it has evolved – creating a briefcase which completely suits the modern gentleman throughout his career.

The Birth Of The 3-Section Paolo Briefcase
italian leather briefcase

When our founder and CEO William Scott Forshaw saw that some of his corporate colleagues in London were carrying a plastic bag to the office everyday, he realised that there was a real need for high-quality briefcases. Therefore, in 2002, William founded Maxwell-Scott.

His first task was to design a briefcase that was classic in its style and functional. With inspiration from his mother’s love of Italy, he travelled to Tuscany – the heart of the traditional leather industry. Here William searched tirelessly, visiting over 100 factories/tanneries, to source the finest materials and skilled artisans. Finally, he settled a family-run factory that would craft his briefcase from full grain vegetable-tanned leather.

The next step for William was to sketch the briefcase that he had devised. The result was a timeless briefcase, with a smart flap secured by a single lock and a classic carry handle. Internally, there were three sections which could accommodate the essentials of a busy professional. This was the very beginning of the 3-sectioned Paolo briefcase and Maxwell-Scott. Over the years, both have evolved…

The Evolution
italian leather briefcase

1. Changed The Lock

The lock is the central focus of the Paolo. This provides a classic aesthetic but importantly, its function is to keep the contents of the briefcase safe. In the beginning, William decided to use a generic lock from a manufacturer that focused on quantity rather than quality. Now, we spend five times as much on a lock which is far more resilient. Alce makes locks which do not fail. This reflects our commitment above anything else to quality handmade leather products which will last a full career.

2. Increased The Stitching

Equally, now, the Paolo briefcase features double stitching around the case. This is crucial as it reinforces the bag, ensuring that it can withstand more weight as an increasing number of modern professionals carry a laptop for instance. It is a simple feature which prolongs the briefcase’s natural lifespan.

3. Reinforced The Lining And The Base Panels

Similarly, William decided to reinforce the lining and the base panels on this case. This acts in the same way as the stitching by strengthening the bag and prolonging its lifespan.

italian leather briefcase

4. Redesigned The Organiser Panel

The technology that we carried around in 2002 was very different to today’s requirements. As such, William redesigned the organiser panel within the bag in order to better reflect his customer. It now boasts a phone sleeve as well as the more classic business card holders and pen slots. This was also an important change because it elevated the Paolo in general. The organiser panel finished the briefcase to a higher standard, accentuating its usability and beauty.

5. Improved The Side Fixtures

To truly provide the highest quality briefcase, the side fixtures have additionally been improved. They have been strengthened and riveted which bolsters the longevity and strength of the briefcase.

6. Improved The Shoulder Strap

The 3-section Paolo briefcase is accompanied by a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap for the ease of the wearer. In order to maximise this, the shoulder strap has been improved over time by widening the strap, securing it with stronger fittings, and including a suede-lined shoulder saver. With this, William continues to strive towards providing professionals which smart briefcases which are a pleasure to use day after day.

7. Improved Zips

A zip is a simple indicator of the quality of any handbag, briefcase or luggage bag. That is why we now use arguably the best of this type of product – the YKK Excella metal zip.

italian leather briefcase

8. Improved The Lining Material

It is vital that the quality of the lining matches that of the exterior. Consequently, the lining of the Paolo is now both cloth and raw leather. This is critical as it enhanced the artistry of the craftsmanship and the practicality of the briefcase.

From conception to present day, our flagship briefcase has been tweaked and refined. Unsurprisingly though it remains one of our best-selling products. It epitomises how we never cut corners in design, materials or manufacture. Instead it is our aim to create a briefcase that you will treasure throughout your career – as these fellow Paolo owners have found:

“There are other briefcases that could probably compete in terms of practicality and durability but this item simply oozes class. If it is possible to have an everyday accessory that is a work of art, this is it. I cannot recommend it highly enough as an emblem of sophistication and understated good taste, not to mention that it is an extremely practical and workmanlike tool.”

– By G Allen, Cornwall, United Kingdom


“Excellent product. I received my leather briefcase last week and I am very pleased with it. I was actually stopped in the airport yesterday morning by a businessman asking where I’d bought this briefcase. I can only recommend this shop and hope to have this bag for many years.”

– By M Hjelholt, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Current Specifications
italian leather briefcase

– Available in 3 classic leathers: Chestnut Tan, Dark Chocolate Brown and Night Black

– Organiser panel for mobile, cards, pens

– Large zip pocket on the back

– Slip zip pocket underneath flap on the front

– Space to accommodate a 16-inch laptop/Macbook and even cumbersome A4 files in the 3 sections (a 2-section Paolo is also available)

– Detachable/adjustable shoulder strap and a carry handle

  • Dimensions: 15.7 x 11.8 x 4.9 ins (width, height, depth)

– Weight: 2.0 kg

– Comes with a 25 year guarantee

The Continuity Of Quality
italian leather briefcase

Despite these alterations, each Paolo is handcrafted from the highest quality full grain leather and always has been. The quality is dependent on the portion of the hide that is used. The very best is from the saddleback, where the fibres are tightest, which means that it is more durable than leather taken from the lower portion of the cow. This in comparison is poor in quality due to the looser fibres that make up the hide which can swell when wet and are often more marked or wrinkled.

Moreover, full grain refers to the prime layer of the hide. Full grain leather is taken from the strongest part of the animal skin, farthest away from the flesh. With this, the close grain pattern ensures durability and an attractive natural character. Totally undoctored, unlike split leather, it retains the natural markings of the cow.

In order to preserve this natural aesthetic, we have always used vegetable tanning. As members of the Genuine Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather Consortium, we are committed to honouring the traditional process of naturally tanning leather. Therefore, we use dyes extracted from bark including chestnut, quebracho and mimosa trees, which imbue the leather with a rich, warm tone. This process has been passed down through the generations in Tuscany; it is still a way life for many. So as to highlight the beauty of this process, the leather is not chemically sealed. This means that over time the leather develops a unique patina. This desirable sheen is cultivated through use and wear, and is the hallmark of the finest quality leather.

Subsequently, this leather is handcrafted by skilled artisans also in the heart of Tuscany. For centuries, Tuscany has been the epicentre of the traditional leather industry. It is here that our artisans have honed their craft through shared knowledge and years of experience. They use a range of traditional techniques in order to create a briefcase which will stand the test of time. Their workmanship and the quality of the materials is lastly reflected in the 25 year warranty of the Paolo. From the very beginning, this warranty has been vital to William. It always will be.

How To Style The Paolo
italian leather briefcase
credit: mrporter.com

As the 3-sectioned Paolo briefcase has a timeless aesthetic it can be easily paired with the most formal of attire or a more relaxed look. After all, this briefcase has a traditional shape as it was designed from its inception for the corporate environment. This means that it perfectly matches a classic suit. It can then adapt to said suit being worn with a formal shirt or perhaps, a piece of knitwear. The sleek design of the 3-sectioned Paolo briefcase ensures distinct versatility.

So, whether it is paired with a shirt and tie or a rollneck sweater, it will add an unquestionable sense of professionalism. We hope that this flexibility means that the Paolo can be enjoyed day after day, whatever the occasion, throughout your career.