C-Suite Worthy: The Best Luxury Briefcase Makers In The World Today
Meet the specialist bagmakers crafting high-end briefcases that are a worthy of any modern executive.
Briefcases. Remember those? Probably not, but if you do happen to be of a certain age, then the briefcase might conjure up some memories, mostly painful in the case of this author, since the briefcase was nothing more than a brutal playground weapon, its brass corners inflicting unrelenting damage to unsuspecting shins.
The digitization of the world has meant that carrying masses of papers and files isn’t necessary anymore. You would be forgiven for thinking that briefcases have largely gone the way of the dinosaurs – certainly, the old-school versions have – but rather than completely die off, briefcases have evolved through a process of necessity and style.
The papers we once carried have now been replaced by laptops and digital devices, and we still need to transit them in a stylish and effective manner. The rigid cuboid cases of old have evolved into softer, more luxurious carry-alls with specific compartments.
The modern briefcase is a bag of versatility, one that can be used in both work and off-duty environments. You can still find some incredible renditions of the vintage briefcase, but for the most part, today’s options reflect the need for lightweight bags that will protect our belongings and look good while they’re at it.
Luxury briefcases: what to look for
Luxury accessory brands live or die by their reputation for craftsmanship. Quality is not subjective when you produce the best possible products using the best possible materials, so a focus on craftsmanship always puts a brand in the conversation about greatness.
In terms of the modern briefcase, craftsmanship means a commitment to mostly handmade processes, using artisans who have honed their skills over years, if not decades. The human eye sees imperfections where the machine can’t. There is just something inherently special about a bag that has been pored over by someone who has made that task their life.
Of course, not all luxury briefcases are 100% handmade, and many processes can be automated without a drop in quality, but if you’re looking for something truly exclusive, it will be the result of human dexterity.
Textiles and materials
Of course, no matter how good the craftsmanship, a briefcase cannot be called luxury if it is not constructed from high-quality materials. When it comes to luxury briefcases, this tends to mean full-grain leathers and buttery-soft suede hides, both of which will age beautifully over time, allowing the briefcase to evolve a patina with use.
Linings are also an important aspect of the bag since they are prone to the greatest amount of wear and tear so pay particular attention to the internal stitching. Synthetic linings will invariably deteriorate with use so be mindful of that.
Hardware is another key element that contributes to the briefcase’s luxury appeal. You want to see solid brass, silver or steel buckles, as well as top-quality zips from the likes of Swiss maker RiRi.
Naturally, there’s an element of brand cachet with any ‘luxury’ item, and reconciling just how much this contributes to the retail price can be very difficult. For many people, brand exclusivity is reassurance enough that the product is excellent, but the reality is that oftentimes, the brand name obfuscates a lack of build and/or textile quality.
If this is an issue for you, then the single best thing to do is steer clear of the fashion labels that make briefcases and make a beeline for the specialist bag makers or those companies with a particular heritage in leather working. Heritage makers have stood the test of time precisely because their products simply don’t die.
Some fashion brands have said heritage so you can quench your label thirst while also being assured of your briefcase’s luxury credentials.
23 of the world’s finest men’s briefcase makers
It takes something special for a brand to exist for over 130 years, and that is exactly what Dunhill has done – excelled in the special. In some ways it’s like the English version of Hermès: both companies started out in the saddle-making business and used their leather-crafting expertise to expand into luxury.
Today, Dunhill is one of the finest makers of luxury accessories, and its slim, minimalist calfskin leather document cases are peerless.
In the world of leather craft, it’s a hard task breaking through the hegemony of the heritage luxury brands but Carl Friedrik has managed to do just that thanks to its exemplary bag designs.
Launched in 2013 by two brothers, the London-based bagmaker has become a much-lauded producer of fine leather luggage, not least its briefcases which are defined by a practical and modern style, and are constructed from soft Vachetta leather vegetable-tanned in Tuscany.
Its Palissy range is the perfect balance of contemporary minimalism and everyday utility.
Altan Bottier Paris
Parisian bootmakers since 1973, Altan produces a small selection of leather accessories blessed with some of the most incredible patinas you could possibly imagine.
Its 24H Marco briefcase is a stunning example of the atelier’s exquisite craftsmanship and is definitely one to turn heads in the office. Crafted from box calf leather, with a leather lining and brass rivets, it is the epitome of bespoke artisanship.
Aspinal of London
Aspinal of London was established in 2001 by British entrepreneur Iain Burton with a vision to “create a heritage brand using the best of British craftsmanship and luxury materials”. Mission accomplished.
Aspinal’s briefcases are a testament to the brand’s dedication to craft, the collection featuring a broad range of slim, full-grain leather styles with a beautiful textural look, in a range of colorways.
It’s often the luxury shoemakers who make the finest bags, and in Berluti we have a master of both. The French leather specialist is renowned for its hand-painted patinas, which it has beautifully deployed onto its range of briefcases.
The ‘Un Jour’ style is its flagship product, and comes in a variety of styles and tones, some with incredibly intricate engraving or contemporary zip detailing. It is the baller’s briefcase, make no mistake.
Bill Amberg has been making stunning bespoke leather products for over 30 years, and the brand doesn’t look set to stop now.
Amberg’s iconic ‘Rocket Bag’ is included in the permanent collection of London’s V&A and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, so the design credentials are unmatched.
It’s still one of the most sought-after men’s bag styles to this day.
Famed for its incredible woven ‘Intrecciato’ designs, Bottega Veneta has been at the top table of leather craft since it was founded in 1966.
Today, its Intrecciato slim briefcases are some of the most recognizable bags in the world, carefully crafted from super soft calfskin leather and featuring a bonded suede lining.
These are C-suite material.
You know what you get when you shop Brunello Cucinelli – timeless elegance combined with the finest materials known to man, wrapped up in Cucinelli’s inimitable savoir-faire.
The brand’s soft calfskin briefcases are everything you imagine them to be. The finish of the leather and the special coloring give it a mild light and dark effect with a vintage feel that is unique to each bag.
British heritage leather specialist Ettinger has been renowned for the quality and design of its small leather goods ever since it was founded in 1934, and the Royal Warrant holder continues to craft some of the best leather accessories you can get your hands on.
Its briefcase collection is pure class, with our favorite being the Heritage Mayfair style, carefully made from stunning bridle leather.
Italian luxury icon Fendi has long been known for its dedication to the very best fabrics so it should be no surprise that it has produced an incredible collection of contemporary briefcase-style bags for men.
The poster boy is the Peekaboo Isseu, which comes in a variety of styles and is constructed from beautiful full-grain Cuolo Romano leather. The contrast leather lining is a dream, too.
The Italian shoemaking legend has of course created bags for quite some time, but it has always been the womenswear side of the business that garnered most of the attention. Today’s men’s offering should change that, especially given the craftsmanship in its Gancini business bags.
Crafted from soft hammered calfskin featuring the embossed Gancini-textured panel, this bag comes in both black and tan colorways and is the picture of modern elegance.
American bag-making icon Frank Clegg has been producing some of the world’s finest leather briefcases ever since the business was founded in 1970. Handmade and beautifully structured, using some of the finest leather, Clegg’s briefcase collection is one of the most eclectic we’ve come across, from modern slim attache cases to heritage satchel styles.
Our favourite is the Zip-top briefcase in shrunken grain leather, for an amazing textural finish.
Offering some of the best luxury value you will find, Spanish bag maker La Portegna has flown under the radar for many years. The brand was a best-kept secret among discerning Spaniards, but the secret is now out of the bag, so to speak.
Handmade by artisans in a Spanish village called Ubrique, which has been producing some of the country’s finest leather since the 19th century, La Portegna’s briefcases are modern classics.
Its ‘Fat Carter’ style is a must for sartorial types who like to carry a lot around with them, while its slimmer Belgrano design features retractable handles so you can carry it like a portfolio if you prefer.
Founded by Melissa Morris in 2017, Métier was quietly garnering a loyal fan base until quite recently, when it exploded thanks to a number of its bags appearing on Succession.
If you’ve been a fan of exquisite design and quiet luxury, then Métier will have already been on your radar. Morris’ aim is to make heirloom-worthy travel bags with peerless functionality, and we reckon she’s cracked it.
With its instantly recognizable graphic logo print, German label MCM has enjoyed a cult following in recent years thanks to its iconic styling. But behind the branding is a dedication to fine leathers and craftsmanship too.
Its Klassik briefcase is a testament to this, crafted from soft Spanish calf leather. Perfect for the contemporary worker who loves to make a statement.
Founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2006, Mismo has since become one of the most recognizable minimalist bag makers in the world, etching out a uniquely understated aesthetic.
Specializing in cotton canvas styles with full-grain leather trims and solid brass hardware, its briefcase series is a rugged and modern collection that perfectly suits smart-casual looks.
Its flagship product, the M/S Endeavour, comes in a variety of muted tones, making it a versatile men’s accessory.
While it is probably best known for its writing instruments, luxury accessories maker Montblanc has one of the best briefcase collections we’ve come across.
Beautifully formed and leaning on a modern minimalist aesthetic, Montblanc’s extensive collection features slim designs constructed from beautifully soft full-grain calfskin leather.
Its Meisterstück style is absolutely sublime, especially the patinated version, but in truth we’d take any of Montblanc’s creations.
British heritage brand Mulberry is best known for its womenswear bags, but its small but perfectly formed collection of men’s briefcases shouldn’t be slept on.
They are essentially svelte document cases, crafted from sumptuous leather with a printed grain effect. With subtle vintage styling, they are perfect for sartorial types who still require a suit for work.
Pickett has long been the go-to name for discerning Londoners in search of a beautiful leather briefcase. From folios with retractable side handles to vintage-inspired buckle briefcases, Pickett always delivered stunning leather quality and top-notch hardware, and at great prices to boot.
Discerning Milanese men have been carrying Serapian bags for decades in the knowledge that they are some of the most stylish and sophisticated bags on the planet.
Founded in 1928, the Italian label’s attention to detail and quality has never dimmed, and today, its briefcase collection is one of the highlights. The brand uses naturally tumbled calfskin leather to create a ‘cachemire’ soft handle while lending a beautiful textural finish to its designs.
Established in 1887, British heritage brand Smythson has always been at the top of the game when it comes to leather accessories. Its briefcases are exemplary – the sleek ‘City’ collection features some stunning slim styles, crafted from large grain calf leather with an exaggerated crossgrain texture that “lends an elegant, yet hard-wearing quality”.
Available in a small assortment of colors, these briefcases are luxury understatement at its quiet best.
For years, the Buckinghamshire-based bag specialist mostly white-labeled for luxury brands, but Tusting has rightfully stepped out of its own shadow and is now marketing a beautifully formed collection of its own.
Tusting’s briefcases are exceptionally well made, using bridle leather and rugged canvas. With sleek modern styles as well as more traditional options, the brand provides some of the best value options you’ll find on this list.
Founded by Giovanni Fontana in 1937 in Milan, the former leather goods agent honed his eye for exceptional style and taste while traveling across Europe as a young man. That search for exquisite refinement has never left the brand. Today, it is still regarded as one of the best bag makers in the world.
Its briefcases are a thing of beauty, crafted from buttery soft Millepunte calf leather or pavé calfskin. They are inherently modern in design and absolute head-turners.