I had the distinct pleasure of inspecting some of Thom Browne’s leather goods up close a few months ago, and they’ve been on my mind ever since. Browne’s entire line is known for strict tailoring and painstaking attention to detail, and he carries that same meticulous nature over into his tightly edited collection of bags and travel pieces for men. I only wish that more designers were inclined to do the same.

Perhaps in an effort to appeal to a broad audience of male consumers, many of whom are concerned with not looking or feeling stereotypically “masculine” enough when carrying a bag, a lot of men’s accessory design can look at a tad overly casual at best; at worst, things get downright sloppy. Browne has no desire to reach a wide swath of average American men, though, so he makes his leather goods for those who want to look and feel anything but average. It would have been a downright treat to spot anyone carrying the Thom Browne Leather Suitcase during my travels this past holiday season, but alas, all I saw was a lot of tan canvas. And those were the highlights.

Admittedly, this bag has all the inconvenience of travel before the advent of the rolling suitcase, but it also has all of the glamour and romance. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a suitcase more genuinely luxurious than this one, with its impeccably smooth black calf leather, British construction and signature Thom Browne grosgrain lining. I’d gladly lug instead of roll in order to carry one of these on a future vacation. Buy through Thom Browne for $6,900.

Because of the rush of the holidays season (and then the inopportune placement of the holidays themselves), it seems like it’s been forever since we had a chance to do a Man Bag Monday. Obviously, that all changes today, and what better way to get re-started mining the Internet for the best in men’s accessories than with a bag from one of the most dapper men on the planet, Tom Ford? Specifically, we’re loving the Tom Ford Buckley Duffel Bag.

Parts of Tom Ford’s women’s bag line need a bit of work, but this sleek, simple duffel is exactly the type of thing that the Tom Ford men’s customer likely wants. And shouldn’t all men be Tom Ford customers? If you’ve ever been in one of Ford’s boutiques or outlets and seen what his tailoring does to the male associates’ rear ends, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

This bag might not do anything for a dude’s derriere (sadly), but it is a pretty great way to haul your everyday necessities. It’s sleek, luxurious and identifies its carrier as someone who’s not striving; rather, as someone who’s already arrived and doesn’t need splashy logos or loud design. Sound like you or someone you know? Pick it up at Neiman Marcus for $3,310.

As we’ve mentioned approximately 8,329 (but who’s counting?) around these parts since mid-November, it’s that time of year. Doesn’t that sound ominous to you? It’s like when you were a child and your parents used to spell out words that would upset you when they were talking to each other and you were in the room – maybe if no one says the name of the impending holiday, we’ll all stay calm and the stress and airport lines and eating of feelings just won’t happen this year. Right? Right.

Odds are, though, that you or someone you know is going to have to travel this time of year. You are someone you know might also have a boyfriend, husband or partner on board for the trip, and odds are that that dude might not be as stylish as you are. He might even want to use his gym bag as his carry-on, as younger dudes are often wont to do. For the sake of everyone in the plane or car, we want to help you keep his smelly gym bag right where it belongs – at home. The best way to do it is to provide him with a piece like the Jack Spade Wing Duffel.

Consider it an early holiday present for a dude who needs to start 2013 off on a slightly more advanced style footing. As a whole, Jack Spade is a great place to look for accessible, upgraded basics that don’t feel like fussy “fashion” pieces to guys who blanche at the thought of looking like they care too much about what they wear. Do the man in your life a favor – upgrade his travel situation. Pick this bag up for $495 via Nordstrom.

To the casual observer, men’s bags might be a tad boring, particularly for those who are used to the multitude and variation of women’s bags. How many messengers and carry-ons and briefcases can one person need, exactly? Well, that’s precisely what nonbelievers say about women’s bags, and they’re wrong. Just because mainstream men’s bags tend to have a more limited color palette and set of shapes than women’s doesn’t mean that there aren’t important differences, even between bags made for the same purpose.

The Giorgio Armani Croc-Embossed Weekender Bag and the Salvatore Ferragamo Alpha Leather Weekender Bag are both dark leather bags that cost around $1500, they’re both around the same size, they’re both from venerable Italian designers known for top-notch menswear and they’re both meant to carry a few days’ worth of clothes and toiletries for their owners. That’s where the similarities stop, though; these two bags demonstrate just how divergent two bags that have all those similarities can be.

The Armani bag is clearly for a man who considers himself a sophisticate. It’s not a real exotic, because no matter how much you love exotics, bags like these need to be super functional. Still, the implication of expensive taste is there, even if the price is somewhat reasonable compared to that of an Armani suit. The Ferragamo bag, on the other hand, is for a man that likes nice, durable things but doesn’t like to spend his time outside of work in a suit just to look extra dapper. This bag’s for a man who loves his jeans and needs accessories that compliment his casual aesthetic but still look like they’re owned by a grown man. So which dude is yours?

Giorgio Armani Crocodile-Embossed Weekender, $1585 via Neiman Marcus

Salvatore Ferragamo Alpha Leather Duffel Bag, $1450 via Neiman Marcus

By this site’s very nature, we spend a decent amount of time talking about things that are very expensive. Expensive handbags, expensive accessories, expensive shoes over at TalkShoes. Back in the real world, though, we like things that feel like a good value for our money – the biggest luxury bang for the buck, if you will. Lucky for the dudes out there, men’s bags often provide that in spades. (Don’t even get me started on the price differences between the men’s and women’s bags from, say, Balenciaga for what’s basically the same bag!)

At stores like Barneys, the house lines give dudes looking for well-made leather basics an even better value. Check out the Barneys New York Co-Op Perforated Zip Bocket Briefcase and Barneys New York Co-Op Perforated Zip Pocket Backpack, for example. They’re both chic, neutral, totally functional and will set you back less than $400 apiece.

The backpack is what first drew me to the Barneys contemporary house line. At $365 via Barneys, it looks much more expensive than it actually is; not only that, but the look is very current. If you showed the bag to me without any context, I’d probably guess it were Alexander Wang, which would come with at least twice the price tag. If you need something a little bit more office-appropriate, the briefcase version is also a great value, at $325 via Barneys. Why is it that the dudes always get the best deals in fashion?

Barneys New York Co-Op Perforated Backpack, $365 via Barneys

Barneys New York Co-Op Perforated Zip Pocket Briefcase, $325 via Barneys

Selecting a briefcase for a working man, particularly a young, reasonably stylish working man, can present some issues. Traditional, super-structured options are stylish in their Don Draper, retro-cool way, but they’re not an everyday solution for a man who doesn’t commit to the midcentury look with his full enthusiasm. (And trust me, it takes a lot of enthusiasm to make those hairdos happen on the regular.)

On the other end of the spectrum, many pieces that are intended as work bags have ventured too far into “casual messenger” territory to be appropriate for an office with anything more than a business casual dress code. Full slouch and weathered-looking leather just aren’t appropriate in many work environments. So what’s a stylish, suit-wearing dude to do? I’d recommend he pick up something like the Serapian Evolution Dual Compartment Briefcase.

This bag is a neat (both literally and figuratively) combination of most of the things consumers should be seeing from a modern brief; it’s simple, but not plain – the textured saffiano leather is both durable and visually interesting, and the shiny gold hardware gives the case a more formal look that would make it appropriate for even the most buttoned-up office. Because of the not-quite-rigid structure and the optional shoulder strap, though, this design is still perfect for a stylish young professional. It’s the best of both worlds, really. Buy through Barneys for $1495.

Usually for Man Bag Monday, we talk about the bags you (or your man) should buy. We’ve seen some beautiful choices recently – Valextra, Lanvin, Givenchy. They’ve been so beautiful, in fact, that an unsuspecting first-time man bag shopper might get the impression that choosing a good bag is idiot-proof. Sadly, that’s not the case. There are still plenty of bad choices out there, and because we like to think of ourselves as service providers, we thought it might be helpful to discuss a few types of things that you (or the man in your life) shouldn’t buy.

This week, our lesson will center around the Ferrari Leather Duffel Bag. A lot of men (and women, too) admire Ferrari cars, and much like the automobiles, the brand’s merchandise comes with a rather hefty price tag. This duffel will set you back $2975 via Neiman Marcus, which is an enormous price by anyone’s standards. It’s even more enormous when you consider what this bag looks like: a bachelor pad, in bag form.

There are chic ways to do athletic details, and then there’s this bag. It looks like the kind of thing that the dude who’s simply looking for the flashiest, most expensive piece imaginable would buy – if that dude considers Louis Vuitton a women’s brand, anyway. (And he does. Louis Vuitton is what he buys his woman when he needs to apologize for something.) Ferrari, on the other hand, is totally masculine, and this bag goes out of its way to ensure the buyer that absolutely no design elements would be used that could be considered even vaguely feminine. The leather? It’s pebbled, because soft leather is for wimps. The trim? Like that of a cheap motocross jacket, because that’s a really dude-like thing to own.

Ladies, if you see your man eyeing this bag, do him a favor – steer his 3,000 bag dollars in the direction of some Thom Browne, posthaste.

As most of you guys know, I love examining how a brand takes a successful women’s bag and translates it to the men’s market. When it’s done carefully, it’s instructive of the differences between what male and female customers want in their luxury accessories. In the past, we’ve looked at dude versions of the Yves Saint Laurent Cabas ChYc and Mulberry Bayswater. Today, we’ll tackle the Givenchy Nightingale.

The differences in this bag and its women’s counterpart are very subtle, which is indicative of the approach that Givenchy takes to a lot of its accessories. Among the brand’s hardcore fans, the men’s and women’s line often blend together; neither group seems at all shy about purchasing things just because they weren’t designed with exactly the right gender in mind. There are a few differences in this piece, though. (more…)

In the months (years? How long have we been doing this?) we’ve been bringing you Man Bag Monday, we’ve looked at tons and tons of solid-color leather holdalls. They’re masculine, they’re functional, they form a great foundation to a man’s bag wardrobe. Take ‘em to the gym, take ‘em on a road trip, use ‘em as a carry-on for a flight. Every brand makes its own version of the men’s holdall at this point, but the Valextra Leather Holdall might be the most luxurious of all the traditional leather options we’ve explored.

Valextra has built an enormous reputation off of a few simple principles: Keep things simple, use the best materials available, make beautiful leather goods. That’s the kind of brand I can get behind, particularly when it comes to men’s leather goods. This bag is nearly archetypal. (more…)

Menswear, as an industry, is in an interesting position right now. More men than ever are interested in personal style and upping their aesthetic game, but because of the traditional cultural views on men and fashion in the US, so few of them have any idea where to start. Of course, we have a novel (or not so novel, to our loyal readers) idea: Start with a great bag, like the AllSaints Stonewall Laptop Bag and go from there.

The best way for a regular dude to elevate his style and still feel like himself is to choose great basics that have a couple of special details. That way, everything can be mixed and matched and he still feels like he’s wearing normal clothes. We teamed up with our friends at AllSaints to create a men’s look around our favorite bag from the retailer; think of it as a guide for male style newbies. Check out our picks after the jump or shop the full men’s selection at AllSaints. (more…)

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