I'm in a line of business where briefcases aren't required, but every time I see a man in a suit carrying a briefcase I have to check it out. Of course, I am talking about those carrying proper briefcases, not those nylon things that come free of charge with a computer.
Nylon is not all bad, though. Piquadro's orange computer briefcase is nylon with leather details and it looks smart, urbane and trendy. Most lawyers and bankers probably wouldn't consider it (although they probably should), but if you are in a creative field it would add points to your appearance.
But every man should make a point of acquiring a briefcase made of leather. It doesn't just look great, it feels great and smells great. It tells people that you are a sophisticated man who means business.
A briefcase is not just a briefcase; it's a statement of who you are. So who is Barack Obama? The US president apparently carries Tumi's Alpha leather expandable briefcase, which only confirms that he has one of the toughest jobs in the world if he needs that much room for documents (and the bag looked full when he was recently spotted climbing into the presidential limo with it).
Not ruling the world just yet, I'd go for an attache case, like the Tumi T-Pass checkpoint friendly soft laptop case in ballistic nylon. The constructed box shape is sleek and modern, and it would go perfectly with a dark suit, a pair of grey chinos, or even with a pair of smart 'destroyed' jeans.
If I am going to carry a briefcase, it won't be black or even dark brown. It would be a Ferragamo Revival briefcase in tan pebble-grain calf leather. It is still classic in style but the light brown tone gives it a sensuousness that you won't get with black. It'll go easily with any suit - navy blue pinstripe, grey checked or even a dark suit - and it looks just as hot if you carry it with your weekend chinos and Oxfords to an after-hours meeting.
Or I'd carry a white leather Trudeau computer bag (4) by Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, a style that also comes in other colours as well as in 100 per cent certified organic cotton. The contrasting black leather handles and burnt sienna lining add the final touch to a style suitable for a young entrepreneur who prefers to work in a trendy cafe with Wi-fi than the sterile setting of an office.
The new generation of businessmen might also like the schoolboy-man look of what I call a 'deconstructed' briefcase such as the Dennis style by youngish Spanish brand Steve Mono (3). These bags are handmade in a small facility in Spain, which give them a personal touch. The playful feel of this style provides some much-needed relief in the competitive work environment.
Designed for business trips, the Louis Vuitton Damier graphite pilot case (1) has a three-level telescopic handle, a silent rolling system, a foam compartment for a computer and another for documents as well as extra little pockets for other gadgets and accessories. I can see a deal-closer carrying this on the road: the man arrives at the airport, gets the job done and off he goes again - maybe after popping open a bottle of Margaux to celebrate.
He might also carry an Alfred Dunhill double zip briefcase with dark gunmetal zippers, a front faceted pocket, two mobile phone holders, a zipped pocket, a front compartment with press-stud closure and a padded sleeve for a laptop lined in soft grey microfibre. What I love about this bag is the subtle way in which the brand motif is incorporated. There are two zips with D-shaped pulls, which can be locked at the loop for added security. An adjustable padded shoulder strap is detachable if you want a cleaner outline. It's ultra-elegant.
The few business trips I have taken have been rather messy. I've often shopped too much and ended up with piles of shopping bags. It's better to carry a Vitello leather Valextra Boston bag because I can hide my shopping and pretend I'm organised. And to top off that deception, I'd hold a swish J.M. Weston Friday document carrier (2) for my paperwork. Fashion is, after all, about appearances.
Piquadro, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2295 0933
Tumi, Prince's Building, Central, tel: 2869 7488
Salvatore Ferragamo, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, TST, tel: 2110 0668
Steve Mono and Want Les Essentiels de la Vie from Harvey Nichols, The Landmark, Central, tel: 3695 3388
Louis Vuitton, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 8100 1182
Dunhill, Sogo, Causeway Bay, tel: 2893 1026)
Valextra, available from Lane Crawford, Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2118 3638
J.M. Weston, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2234 7288