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…)

For a long time, I wondered why Alexander Wang didn’t do men’s bags. Wang’s dark, industrial, ultra-cool aesthetic is patently unisex, and bags have always been a great success for the brand. Many of Wang’s larger women’s bags have been favorites of fashionable dudes for a long time, and when there’s a clear market, a smart company tries to fill it. Alexander Wang, as a brand, is nothing if not growth-savvy.

Enter the Alexander Wang Wallie Holdall, which is among Wang’s first men’s efforts. It’s exactly what you would expect – black leather, slouchy shape, minimal hardware for the men’s market – which is kind of perfect. Launching a new line requires fleshing out the basics, and this design is as good an attempt at that as you’ll find. (more…)

As we often note, men’s bags tend to be more subdued, more neutral and more cleanly designed than women’s bags; the men’s market just isn’t into as much look as female luxury consumers are. That’s the traditional view, anyway. The menswear industry is in a period of rapid modernization at the moment, and suddenly a much wider variety of aesthetics and ideas are considered within the mainstream. What better major designer to lead the way forward than Prada?

We’ve noted in the past that men’s bags are often adapted from successful women’s designs, but usually that happens with bags that are already well on their way toward unisex appeal. Taking the intricate motifs of the Prada Fall 2012 runway bags and streamlining them into the Prada Spazzolato Briefcase is a bold move, and in my mind, one that pays dividends. Thus, it’s the subject of this week’s Man Bag Monday. (more…)

Today might be Tuesday, but because of the long weekend, we’re going to call it a spiritual Monday so that we don’t miss out on Man Bag Monday, our weekly look at all things dude-oriented in the world of luxury accessories. Because this is the first Monday of unofficial fall, it seems only right that we look at what might be the chicest backpack on the market right now – the Paul Smith Leather and Felt Backpack. (more…)

Making a man bag in the image of an incredibly popular women’s handbag just makes sense. Most men who are in the market for a bag that costs four figures also have at least a passing awareness of women’s fashion, and I’ve heard lots of fashion-interested male friends lament that they’d love to have larger, less purse-sized versions of handbags from the Givenchy Antigona to the Hermes Birkin. Some of those bags, like the Birkin and the PS1, do come in larger, basically unisex versions that appeal to men who are sensitive to the stigma of a “purse,” but other brands choose to give dudes a slightly tweaked version all their own.

Both the Yves Saint Laurent Leather Holdall, a version of the ever-popular Yves Saint Laurent Cabas ChYc, and the Mulberry Piccadilly Holdall, which is a Mulberry Bayswater if I’ve ever seen one, stick to the idea that men are more than willing to buy womens’ bags if you butch ‘em up juuuuust a little bit. (more…)

After an unauthorized Annie Leibovitz-lensed image of 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps in a bathtub next to a Louis Vuitton bag leaked last week, it was pretty obvious that he would be the star of the brand’s next Core Values ad. After featuring astronauts, musicians and actors in past Core Values ads, Vuitton moved on to athletes this year, first with an moving image of Muhammed Ali and his grandson. After the spectacle of the London Olympics captured the attention of people around the world, it was only natural that Vuitton should turn next to the man who is arguably the greatest Olympian of all time.

Phelps isn’t the only Olympian LV tapped for these ads, though. Continuing the Ali ad’s precedent of juxtaposing the new generation of champions with those of the past, Phelps appears alongside Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast who won 18 Olympic medals between 1956 and 1964. She held the record for the most Olympic medals for 48 years until Phelps eclipsed her record in London. Latynina still holds the medal for medals in individual events – 14 – and with Phelps’ retirement, it would appear that she stands little chance of losing it in the near future. (more…)

I love having visitors from home come see me in New York City because it gives me an opportunity to try new things and go new places while playing tour guide. This past weekend my friend David came to town, and after seeing a particularly splendid grosgrain-trimmed blazer at Bergdorf Goodman, he requested we make a trip to the Thom Browne boutique in Tribeca. We did, of course, because there’s nothing I love to do more than gawk at things that cost more than my rent, and I couldn’t have been more charmed by what we found. Not only is the boutique itself incredibly nondescript (it has no exterior signage, save for a small, seemingly hand-typed note on the door indicating the store’s contents) and almost temporary-feeling, like they could pack it all up and leave on a whim if the Browne decided he was sick of selling clothes to the people of New York, but the small selection of goods contained therein was uniformly perfect.

Naturally, my attentions went immediately to the bags, which Browne makes for both men an women in styles based on traditional men’s work bags from decades ago. When I saw the Thom Browne Mr. Thom Doctors Bag, I knew it had to be the subject of our weekly Man Bag Monday. Not only this bag pristine in both design and execution, but it’s a perfect example of why shopping small, independent designers can be so rewarding. (more…)

You’d think that a black leather duffle bag couldn’t possibly be all that interesting, right? We’ve all seen them done in a thousand different ways by as many different brands, and at a certain point, they just all blur together. Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when met one of the founders of American leather goods company Parabellum during New York Fashion Week in February and was genuinely impressed with the materials used, the level of workmanship, basically everything. While some large designers tend to cut corners on their cash-cow accessories lines in order to maximize their bottom lines, Parabellum is a small company looking to do everything the right way.

Bags like the Parabellum Medicine Man Duffle are made from bison skins sourced from American farms, which are then tanned, barrel-dyed and hand-cut at an undisclosed location (this is all very proprietary, naturally) in the Midwest with old school tools of the trade that the craftsmen have been using for decades. For bags that use copper hardware, each piece is hand-shaped and hand-finished by a metal worker. On the other hand, the black bag above uses handmade ceramic hardware (think the band of a Chanel J12 watch), which is so difficult to produce in these sizes and shapes that major European brands have tried to buy the process from Parabellum, who declined to sell. And that’s to say nothing of how gorgeous the leather is. (more…)

We tend to write mostly about expensive man bags for Man Bag Monday, which I suppose makes sense in the context of the rest of the things we tend to fawn over; the men’s luxury market is opening up in an exciting way right now, and it’s fun to explore that. For the average style-minded male consumer, though, I get the sense that four-figure bags aren’t the first stop for something stylish. (Besides the Louis Vuitton men’s customer, of course. Those dudes are dedicated, and more power to them.)

That’s where a store like J.Crew comes in. It’s accessible both physically and aesthetically to a wide range of men, and although it’s an elevated price point for many dudes, a $100-$300 men’s bag is a palatable intermediary between carrying something thoroughly average and breaking into the true luxury market, which many men both gay and straight still view as a bastion of only the most effete. The new J.Crew Abingdon Bags are particularly strong – casual, a bit rugged, but still refined and classic enough to warrant their price tags. Check out our favorite J.Crew Abingdon options, from backpacks to weekenders, after the jump. (more…)

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