BAGS vs BAGS – PART 3 (The Cambridge Satchel Company vs The Leather Satchel Company)

by Jingle Chen in , ,


Many local departmental stores are starting to carry satchels, so I decided to do a feature on satchels, as I am personally a fan of it. Not to mention Proenza Schouler, which is in the mid luxury range, let me do a comparison between the affordable yet reputable brands that sound really alike… but are they really the same?

1: History / Origination

The Cambridge Satchel Company (CSC)

Homepage of The Cambridge Satchel Company.

Homepage of The Cambridge Satchel Company.

Founded in 2008, Cambridge ,England, by Julie Deane and her mother Freda Thomas as a way to pay private school fees for Deane's children. These colourful handmade leather satchels are all based on an original Oxford and Cambridge satchel design and aimed at school children, but met unexpectedly high demand as a fashion accessory, and became, according to The Guardian, "a cult among twenty-something fashion bloggers".

Following coverage by international fashion magazines and a collaboration with the fashion brand Commes des Garcon , production of the satchels increased from three homemade items a week to 1,500 in 2011, and turnover increased from ₤15,000 to an estimated 8 million in 2011.

- Source: Wikipedia

Awards:

1.    The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise International Trade

2.   Drapers Fashion Awards 2012 Winner

3.   WGSH Global Fashion Awards 2012

4.   European Business Awards National Champion 2012/2013

5.   UK Fashion & Textile Awards Winner 2013

The Leather Satchel Company (LSC)

Homepage of The Leather Satchel Company.

Homepage of The Leather Satchel Company.

Contrary to their competitor CSC, The Leather Satchel Company was actually founded way earlier in 1966. While CSC founders were a women team, LSC was also a family business, founded by Stephen Hanshaw and later joined by his brothers, who are all British leather craftsmen. The brothers also had notable collaborations with Hérmes, Armani, Letts and Basso & Brooke, amongst others. They also offer a five year craftsmenship warranty.

Awards/ Member

1. Member of the British Guild of Master Craftsmen

2: Variety

The Cambridge Satchel Company

Brilliantly, aptly and neatly organized into 31 different types, SCS categorizes the variety into the below:

The Classic
The Batchel
The Designer
The Music Bag
The Harris Tweed Collection
University of Cambridge
The Backpack
The Shoulder Bag
The Mini
Seasonal Colours for Him and Her
Seasonal Colours with Pale Gold
Saddles Leather Satchel
Brogue Satchel
The Fluoro
The Clutch
Patent Satchel with Magnetic Closure
The 14’ Batchel with Magnetic Closure
The Two Tone with Magnetic Closure
The Portrait Backpack
The Satchel with Suede
The Colour Block
The Shoulder Bag with Suede
Seasonal Patents
14’ Black with Tartan
Brit Bag

While most of the above are self explanatory and imaginable, the noteworthy ones, in my opinion are

 a)   The Music Bag - A stylish traditional music bag with a detachable strap and signature steel bar completing the design. It’s a big hit with architects and I am starting to feel in love with this minimalist design too!

Love the minimalist structure!

Love the minimalist structure!

b)   The Harris Tweed Treasure Trunk – Their special limited edition trunks are covered in Harris Tweed, hand woven in the Western Isles of Scotland. This unique British made trunk will add vintage appeal to any space and is a true British design classic. This is a rare find and I know you might be thinking what is a trunk doing in a satchel company’s website. But I simply love the surprise element.

Something different from a satchel company.

Something different from a satchel company.

c)   The Mini - This is the newest addition with all the traditional features of the classic in miniature! It also features a new style top handle, detachable shoulder strap and handy magnetic closures for easy access.  Look at the pink mini, it’s so very me!

No, it's not a car...

No, it's not a car...

 There are also small accessories like card holders, enamel bag charms and even school badges to get you into the mood of being in a British high school in the 1950s. Cool.

Little swanky adds on...

Little swanky adds on...

The Leather Satchel Company

While the variety of LSC is not as exciting as CSC, the former offers customization services and also offers gift wrapping for a little fee.

This is how I used to wrap my presents.. brown paper, tweed string and a little message tag.

This is how I used to wrap my presents.. brown paper, tweed string and a little message tag.

The colours offered in LSC is also more classic, staying within the comfort zone rather than being too adventurous like the women’s leaders in CSC.

 One thing to note for LSC is that they come in half sizes, e.g 12.5” and are looking into bringing in 16.5” and 18.5” satchels.

Certain colours in LSC is also more classic like the Loch Blue, the London Tan, the British Racing Green, although they also tan their leathers to go with the trend of neon and pastels. 

Colours are more classic, although they do carry pop colours.

Colours are more classic, although they do carry pop colours.

Some notable collections include:

a)    The Classic Loch Blue and Argyle Patten Leather Satchel – An excellent combination of colour and fabric, I fell in love with it at first sight.

Classic Loch Blue and Argyle Patten Leather Satchel.png

b)    The Patent Oxblood Red Satchel – there is something classic yet defying about this, a colour that is intense and attention grabbing yet understated, a finish that is ultra modern yet simple. This very me too!  As it is also a statement piece, I prefer to keep it at the 12.5” size. My brain is already trying to manage the temptation to click the BUY button…

Simply love the oxblood red colour.

Simply love the oxblood red colour.

3: Price

The Cambridge Satchel Company

Price starts from approx. SGD$210 for a Classic 13 “ to SGD$520  for a shoulder bag with suede. They do charge a small fee for personalization of name, but what’s a statement piece without some personalization on it!

The Leather Satchel Company

Price starts from approx. SGD$176 for a Classic 13 “ to SGD$341, but as the craftsmen claim you can customize your satchel in anyway you want ranging from colour (yes you can do different combinations), size, depth of gusset, strap length, leather type (they have over 30 types), it price might be a little hard to quote on the web, that’s why they send the final price over to you, and that’s what bespoke service is all about !

4. Usability

The Cambridge Satchel Company

Extremely versatile in my opinion with an easy to understand and refer size guide for all the satchels, batchels and clutches. Multiple sizes from mini to trunks allows the undecided ones to purchase different sizes in different colours and finishes!

A sample screen shot of the size guide from the website.

A sample screen shot of the size guide from the website.

Also reviews on the forums by users that claim that the leather dye do not bleed (important on rainy days when the worst thing that can happen is you get a bloody red stain on your white jeans).

Also, in case you are wondering what is the difference between a batchel and a satchel, the former has a handle at the top.

 Look at the best sellers and it’s interesting to see the signature style and colour of this brand would be anything within the red, maroon and brown hues.

The best sellers in hues of reds and browns.

The best sellers in hues of reds and browns.

The Leather Satchel Company

Although not as swanky as CSC, the ability to add the below to any purchase is definitely a good move. I love the various customization options like the below.

Customise a satchel

5. Availability

The Cambridge Satchel Company

Easy to find and easy to buy, you can choose and purchase from the whole range in their website with customization of your name with the option of different embossing colours and placement. Other websites to get a good deal (depending on website promotion), includes Asos, ShopBop, DoorStepLuxury, and of course ebay and Amazon if you don’t mind a worn leather bag with some character.

The Leather Satchel Company

They are available in Asos and of course Amazon and ebay, but have a wider range of stockiest all over the world. I would prefer to buy off their original website as I can customize all of the features, and that’s a great retail therapy experience!

6. Brand

I have added in this additional comparison just for an extra analysis.

The Cambridge Satchel Company

One interesting thing you don’t see smeared all over the satchels is the brand or logo tag, which might be mistaken for other brands like Zatchels (which has a black tag sticking out), or The Leather Satchel Company. The logo features a sketch of a bicycle, which is interesting because there seem to be some association and disassociation. Perhaps they were trying to communicate a certain versatile lifestyle or a carefree spirit one might have while riding a bicycle, or most students in the 1950s do cycle to school with the satchels slung across their backs.

Seen on their blog page is “The original and the best. Based in Cambridge, all of our bags are made in the UK. Loved by bloggers & fashionistas worldwide.”

I do have some clarification to make about them claiming to be “original”, as they were founded later than The Leather Satchel Company, so what were they claiming originality about?

Brand Culture

On a lighter and heartwarming note, I find their website the most personal and authentic of all, (do view a short interview with the founders with a whimsical soundtrack). Two motherly ladies with a down to earth aura that is humble and hardworking… if you are debating between a few brands, look no further. 

The Leather Satchel Company 

A small brand card is inserted on the front window of the satchel, so you can remove that. Best option because I don’t really fancy a black tag sticking out like Zatchels. Another brand promise proudly displayed in their website includes a steadfast adherence to quality and craftsmanship.

Company values

The website is no frills and I guess because the brand owners are down to earth leather craftsmen (compared to the ladies of CSC, who are a little more sensitive to the retail experience), they have a different “taste” on aesthetic when it comes to web design.

Their logo also do not steer too far away from the place of origin, however I do prefer the vertical stack rendition on the bag rather than the horizontal format on the web as the former gives more presence and authenticity, balancing modernity with timeless British classic design.