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The Evolution of the Briefcase for Men

The briefcase has been the bag of choice for men going back as far as the ancient Romans. The briefcase for men has undergone countless changes in the name of practicality, comfort, and style. Learn a bit about how the briefcase of today came to be and where it will go next.

Throughout the first to third centuries, the ancient Romans used a leather document pouch called a Loculos, the earliest known example of what we now call a briefcase. It was made from a single hide and fastened with a bronze ring and leather straps. Leather persisted in being the material of choice for centuries and after many transformations, the Loculos of the 3rd century became the letter case of the 17th. Men in those days would carry these letter cases to protect important or sentimental documents. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, new materials became available to meet the needs of a population now travelling more and more often. Handbags became wildly popular as they were sturdy enough to withstand travelling by train while also being fashionable. Men of the elite, like doctors and lawyers, were all carrying leather briefcases. The popularity of the briefcase for men remained consistent and spread to men of all classes in the 50s and 60s, leading popular designers to take notice. Throughout the 70s and 80s, big names in fashion began pushing the square, boxy briefcase out of style, in favor of more slim and sophisticated black leather bags. To this day, briefcases are still getting slimmer as books and laptops are replaced with kindles and tablets, but the strictly dictated black leather bag is no more. These days, it’s business appropriate to have a briefcase that suits your own personal style. We’re seeing rugged looking briefs, vintage briefs, briefs of all shapes and sizes. Briefcases began to be slimmer not only to accommodate their slimmer contents, but in consideration of the way people were now traveling. A crowded commuter train is no place for a bulky briefcase, nor is the business class seating in an airplane. Thus a generation a slim, flight briefs became trendy and widely used.

In the late 90s the briefcase for men saw a notable transformation with the advent of the messenger style. Jack Spade took what was formerly a bag used only by messengers and transformed it into a sleek and practical bag for the business elite. Over-the-shoulder messenger briefs became the de rigeur choice for corporate men. It wasn’t until nearly ten years later that trends began to shift and the handheld briefcase came back into style. The handheld briefcase for men resurged as consumers opted for comfort in carrying, over the messenger style which commonly caused back pain.

What’s next in briefcase style? We’re seeing now a culmination of style influences, new materials becoming trendy, and more room for personal style expression. All-leather bags are beginning to look too fancy for the commute, but well-placed leather accents are a great way to keep the comfort, dependability, and classic look of leather in your briefcase. Waxed canvas is emerging as a go-to fabric, sought after for its sleek appearance, extreme durability, and waterproof qualities. Over the years, the color scheme of briefcases hasn’t changed much, so as always, briefs are popular in neutral, conservative colors that will compliment business attire. We’re seeing beautiful waxed canvas briefs being produced with long-lasting materials and good quality hardware that are surely worth the investment.

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