I'd searched for a burgundy briefcase for long enough to believe that there weren't any available at a price affordable to mere mortals. Having accepted this and largely moved on, imagine my delight when I stumbled across the Bond Slim Briefcase in burgundy cross-grain on a friend's Instagram page. Intrigued, I reached out with some questions since the company is based in Singapore. Ryan from Faire Leather Co. was quick to reply and also generously offered to send me a Bond Slim Briefcase in exchange for an honest review.
Shipping & Packaging
Despite coming all the way from Singapore, shipping was extremely quick, taking only three days to be delivered. The blue Faire box you see below was encased in a larger shipping box and wrapped in a protective Styrofoam wrap. The inner box arrived undamaged. Inside the box, the bag was wrapped in tissue paper and covered in an almost gratuitous amount of Styrofoam wrapping that delayed my satisfaction for a few minutes but also ensured it arrived free of damage of any kind. I don't think I've encountered a more securely packaged product. Both the bag and the strap also came with elegantly branded dust bags.
Design & Styling
The bag is, true to its name, slim and minimal. It features central handles that close with a clasp, two d-rings for attaching the shoulder straps, a single zipper that runs the length of three sides of the bag, and a leather band for sliding the briefcase over the handle of a roller suitcase. The zipper fabric, inside and out, is a slightly lighter shade of burgundy and all the hardware is silver stainless steel. I enjoy the sleekness of the design and think it helps it work with formal clothing, while the cross-grain finish gives it just enough texture so it wouldn't be out of place in a more casual ensemble, which is all you can ask for.
Storage & Functionality
To put it simply, the Bond Slim Briefcase has changed how I think about briefcases and bags more generally. Previously, I would look for bags with a good number of roomy compartments and a few smaller pockets to store all the things I might need in a day. The Bond Slim is not that type of briefcase. Instead, everything has its assigned place, be it a pocket or clasp. Being a comparatively small bag, I thought I'd have no problem filling all the pockets to demonstrate its storage capacity for this post, but I quickly ran out of things to store and could easily have fit much more in the bag. Here's what the bag interior looks like, empty and full, from both angles.
At this point it makes sense to divide the discussion into the two sides of the bag, henceforth known as the laptop side and pen side.
The clasps running along the top of the pen side work marvelously for charging cords , earbuds, or keys. Gone are the days of me searching every pocket in my bag for my keys, storing them in one of the clasps makes them easy to find every time. The pen holder worked great for pens of a variety of sizes, including those without a clip. The large sleeve pocket holds a slim book nicely, but could be used for any manner of things. The zip pocket is likewise large enough to be used for a variety of purposes. I chose to display my rather large Moto Z2 Play to demonstrate its size.
On the other side, the laptop sleeve easily fit my 13" laptop and the clasp closes with a comforting snap. I chose to store watches in the larger clasps , but these could just as easily be used for the laptop's charging cord or a pair of glasses. In total, there are four slip pockets and one zip pocket on this side and I had trouble filling them all. The top left slip pocket is designed for business cards and works well for this purpose, complete with a pull tab to quickly retrieve them. The top right slip pocket is meant for a small wallet and Faire even has one in matching leather for all their bags. I used a similar wallet I already had and again the pull tab worked well to access the pocket's contents rapidly. (Watch the videos at the bottom of the page to see the pull tabs at work)
The other two slip pockets don't have a pull tab or any particular purpose, and while not large, can still accommodate many of the smaller items you might have in your daily carry. The small zipper pocket comes with a small leather and a small plastic sleeve that Faire suggests could be used to keep SD or sim cards. I haven't used them for such yet, but it seems a good way to keep from losing them and your precious photographs.
On the back of the bag, underneath the band for sliding the bag onto a roller bag, there is a hidden pocket with a magnetic closure. Inside this pocket there is a small sleeve that would work well for things you need quick access to like a passport or phone. There is probably enough room in the pocket for both and since the pocket is cleverly concealed (I didn't even realize it was there until I went through the promotional material again), your valuables should be safe.
Now I know if you're like me, you're thinking "that's all well and good, David, but I like to carry a book or two with me and I don't see anywhere for that to go." While there isn't any specific spot for a book (or e-reader), when everything else is stored the main compartment is plenty large enough for one or two medium sized books, as evidenced above.
The cross grain leather used by Faire for the bag has a nice, even burgundy color and the cross-grain texture is consistently excellent throughout the bag. The matching burgundy stitching is exquisite. The bag is full of beautiful little details, one of my favorite being the elegant shape of the bag's handles as they meet the body of the bag. The branding, on the hardware and etched on the leather, is sophisticated and pleasing to the eye. All the clasps close firmly and securely and the zippers slide easily, but are not flimsy. It is a beautiful bag that perfectly completes a burgundy accessories look.
I have very few complaints, and those that I do have are minor. While I like the sleekness of the bag design, the zipper configuration means that you must open the bag almost completely every time, which is a little inconvenient if you're just trying to grab one thing when you're on the go. The other small concern is that after a single use of the bag pulled over the handle of a carry-on, the leather developed a small rub that lightened it some. This can be seen on the left side of the back of the bag in the pictures above. The rub is quite small and I'm sure that it would be restored to life with a little leather conditioner, which coincidentally Faire offers.
Choosing the Right Bag
When I first discussed the bag with Ryan, I inquired about the larger Bond Luxury Travel Bag. He mentioned that the bag was rather large and suggested I try the Bond Slim Briefcase instead; I'm glad he did. As I've previously written, this bag has plenty of storage space and it's slimness makes it lighter and easier to carry. Now, if you need to carry a truly large number of items, then you should upgrade to the full Bond bag, which Faire is now offering with gun metal hardware.
Conversely, if the Bond Slim is too large for your needs, Faire also offers a padfolio and a tablet sleeve, both of which come with a unique hand grip for stylish carry. Faire also offers several colors of leather and two finishes on all their bags. I chose burgundy cross grain, but they also offer navy and black cross grain and black, navy, tan, and dark brown vegetable tanned leather.
The Faire team likes to talk about "functional luxury at a fair price," and I think they've achieved their goal. At $649 for the Bond Travel Bag, $499 for the Bond Slim, $329 for the Padfolio, and $239 for the Tablet Sleeve, Faire Leather Co.'s bags are an investment, but they are several hundred dollars cheaper than equivalent high-quality bags and likely much more functional for the high-tech life we all lead.
Ryan and his team are dedicated to making their customers happy, offer a three-year warranty on all their bags, and are open to feedback (The Bond Slim got its start after customer suggest the Bond Travel Bag might be too big). Faire has humble origins, starting with a Kickstarter less than two years ago and is still a young company, but one that has tremendous potential. If you're in the market for a new briefcase I can't think of a better company to buy from.