In Britain, the rigid red box briefcase has long been synonymous with the economy. In fact, it was held outside of Number 10 on Downing Street annually on Budget Day from 1860 until that particular briefcase was retired in 2010. Accommodating these British budget papers was a leather attaché case crafted by Barrow, Hepburn & Gale – an icon in politics. Over the years, they have supplied The Sovereign, Her Government and official representatives with boxes and other suitably official leather goods. It was then-Chancellor William Ewart Gladstone, back in 1860, who commissioned the original box from them with a wooden frame, lined in black satin and covered in scarlet leather. This box briefcase in particular highlights the significant role that the attaché case would have from the 19th century and beyond in carrying paperwork, whether that be in the highest echelons of British politics or by the mid-century archetypal Don Draper.
Each of our attaché cases for men are handcrafted in the traditional manner by skilled Italian artisans. The process begins with cutting the pattern by hand from full grain, vegetable-tanned leather (‘full grain leather’ refers to the strongest part of the hide – i.e. the layer farthest away from the flesh). This type of leather is considered to be of the highest quality, due to the premium aesthetic and durability of its close grain pattern.
Once the pattern is cut, the leather is vegetable-tanned. This natural process uses dyes extracted from bark extracts including chestnut, quebracho and mimosa trees which results in a warm finish. This rich leather is then bound around a wooden frame and finished with metal feet, a single carry handle and twin combination locks for security.
The interiors of each of our Maxwell-Scott attaché cases then vary depending on the amount of documentation that is required, but, in the classic way, ours are lined with pig skin suede. With this, we ensure that our classics guarantee the attaché case’s perennial attraction and are handcrafted to last a lifetime. From the airport, to the hotel, to the office, the Varese pilot attache case should always be by your side.
“the iconic attaché case is as rigid as the values of the corporate culture of which it remains a symbol”
- The New York Times Style Magazine
The men’s leather attaché case first became a symbol of business in the mid-20th century when it was adopted by professionals, particularly doctors and lawyers, to carry their documents to court or the office. It soon became the basis of the gentleman’s wardrobe. Crafted in particular for protecting paperwork, these hard briefcases are ideal for storing loose papers as well as pens, business cards and a phone. Over time, the attaché case has remained a firm staple in the boardroom, treasured by the most discerning professionals.
Bond’s recent move to more relaxed pieces mirrors a transition from the traditional businessman into the technological age; although the leather attaché will always remain a firm favourite of ours at Maxwell - Scott.
Despite its long-standing popularity, demand for the attaché case has nevertheless been declining as we move to a more modern lifestyle. As a society, it’s no secret that many of us now carry a laptop or tablet instead of paperwork. Our CEO and founder William Scott Forshaw attributes this fall in popularity to two factors: “The most obvious reason is, of course, that we are all going paperless. However, the attaché case has certainly also suffered from the growing trend of smart casual office wear rather than stricter guidelines. That being said they are, and always will be, a classic. I truly believe that the tide is turning and we will begin to once again acknowledge the elegance of the attaché case. Next year, you never know, we may just have quite the revival. I for one will always carry this classic – a touch of tradition in my hands”
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