The Silent Travel Companion: Saddleback Leather Company Handbags

20 Jul

All who know me will attest to the stellar collection of dresses and shoes in my closet. Seldom do I get excited over handbags and luggage, except ultra pricey ones that I often can’t afford.  Earlier this year, I came across a company whose sole mission was to create handmade leather handbags and accessories that will last a lifetime.  The original designs immediately caught my eye. The bags were rugged, masculine and classy, sleek in design and original in concept.  I immediately reached out to the company’s marketing department for an interview to learn more about the bag with a staunch cult following. After several email exchanges and phone calls, I was finally on the phone with Dave Munson, the man behind the brand Saddleback Leather Company, a Texas-based, family owned and operated brand that manufactures rugged and handsome leather handbags and accessories.  The story behind Saddleback Leather Company’s inception is as epic and rugged as the bags themselves and one that should be read in the first hand account by Dave, the designer and creator.

Saddleback Leather Company is a boys brand. It’s for the rough and tumble, handsome and rugged outdoors man who can don a suit for the courtroom and strip down to jeans and a plaid shirt with work boots for a day in the woods with the boys. An up-close and personal look at Classic Briefcase, will bring you to your knees.  Dave told me the bag was even more impressive in-person so he sent me the Classic Briefcase in an extra large.  The process of picking this particular bag was like picking a soulmate, one that required an intrinsic look into my life, personality and lifestyle. After all, I would be stuck with this bag for life, as evidenced by its 100 Year Lifetime Guarantee.

My Classic Briefcase in Tobacco Light Brown color suits me because I: am creative, love big dogs, never met a stranger, adventurous, a traveler and easy going. I reckon he nailed my personality to a T. The bag arrived and I immediately jet set off to Fashion Week in February, during the Snowpolcolypse. After tagging along with me in search of a mode of transportation to New York City, by train, plane or automobile, we finally found ourselves on the Amtrak train en route to every fashion fanatic’s biggest week. In a land where most gals carry Alexa Mulberry bags, Louis Vuitton luggage and Hermes Birkin bags, I decided to take Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase where its never been before: Fashion Week.

It’s been almost six months since I started carrying the Classic Leather Briefcase from Saddleback as my travel bag for my weekly New York trips and I haven’t gotten bored toting it back and forth.  Every man wants it and stops me in the street to tell me what a “beautiful” bag I have. An older gentleman backtracked on Park Avenue to ask me for the name of the company that made the handbag. This bag is take charge Humphrey Bogart; gun slingin’ Clint Eastwood in a cowboy tale; and rope swingin’, adventure seeking Indiana Jones. It’s non-fussy with a limited amount of hardware and hand stitched with perfection.  I might be dainty and feminine on the outside but my inner tomboy gives me the confidence to carry it proudly.

The Classic Leather Briefcase, along with the other leather goods in the Saddleback Leather Company, is easy on the eyes but don’t let their outer appearance fool you. They are made of high grade leather that Dave says is the Porsche of leather.  They’re smooth to the touch like a rich chocolatey milk shake on the tongue but straight as a shot of Blaton’s bourbon served neat with a glass of ice on the side, because ladies and gents, the bag is that cool. They are  kick ass tough and durable, which is why the company stands behind them by offering a 100 year warranty. My bag is the item my kids will be fighting over when I’m dead and gone. The bag that my grand children will tell stories about. As I make my way through the U.S. of A in my travel adventures, my Classic Briefcase has been my silent companion and wingman. Yes wingman! A very handsome finance guy toting the Thin Chestnut Briefcase complimented me on my bag and bought me a drink as we waited an hour for a train.

I interviewed Dave Munson about Saddleback Leather company, its origins and what makes these bags command such a cult following. Since our interview,  the company has expanded its offering with a collection of handbag cases that are priced just right for the gent or gal looking for a sleek alternative to the colorful cases on the market. I’m currently investing in a Saddleback Leather Company Suitcase in Tobacco Brown as well a Travel Case for my travels, especially on my upcoming trip to Ghana.

Read on for more from Dave Munson.

So what would you say to somebody who didn’t know your brand and asked you to explain it in a few sentences? 
Saddleback Leather is a real and adventurous company that has a sort of cult following. We makes simple designs with no breakable parts that don’t go out of style. And everything is over engineered with thick full grain leather and industrial marine grade thread.

You have a very loyal fan base who take awesome pics from different locations with their bags. Any funny stories?
I was in Costa Rican jungle once taking pictures of my bag by a waterfall and some lady asked if that was a Saddleback Leather bag.

Any exotic locations? 
A couple: Antarctica hanging on the South Pole, parachuting over Australia, Estonia, Victoria Falls in Africa, Rio de Janeiro, Great Wall of China and even on a refueling plane with a jet fighter refueling in the background. There are hundreds and hundreds more.

What kind of music do you listen to? 
Classical, Trace Bundy, U2, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, POD.

Who would you want to see carrying your bag?
Harrison Ford since Indiana Jones was my hero when I was young. I even bought a whip.

What’s in store for the next 5 years? 
My bags are extremely well made, but I want to make the greatest single bag to ever grace this earth, and with a very cool story behind it too. It’s going to be a surprise.

Let’s build the perfect Saddleback man. Who is he? What does he do?
He’s an easygoing fun loving adventuring dog lover with a very likable personality.  He’s a successful businessman who now and then opens his guitar case at lunch and plays until he gets enough tips for lunch.

Why does he carry the bag? 
To carry his laptop and other necessities that are there just in case.

What is your typical customer? 
Male college graduate married with kids a lot like the man described above.

What word describes Saddleback leather? Legendary or Timeless?
Timeless

This 100 year waranty…what’s that all about? 
Saddleback doesn’t use zippers, buttons, snaps or anything that can ever break. The leather is excellent and thick, the thread is the best there is. Then, like killing a fly with a shotgun, all stress points are reinforced with hidden nylon straps and rivets. Hard living is encouraged, but nothing extreme please.

Which Saddleback bag fits the personality of a Washington politico?
Chestnut usually. There are a number of Saddleback brothers and sisters in D.C.

What is the biggest challenge working with such a small crew? 
There really aren’t too many that I can think of. We’re blessed.

What are the rewards? We only hire people we like and who are stand outs. Therefore, those who work with us are fun.

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2 Responses to “The Silent Travel Companion: Saddleback Leather Company Handbags”

  1. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    How tall are you that you’re carrying the XL Briefcase everywhere? I’m 5’4″ and a medium briefcase full of books is about as much as I can handle for a daily carry. In fact, it’s a bit too heavy, but I keep telling myself I’ll build up strength by carrying it every day!

  2. The Glamazon Diaries July 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    I am 5’4 as well but I use this for travel. I usually transform it into a backpack if it gets too heavy for me to carry. The bag is pretty heavy on its own and when I add a few dresses and two pairs of shoes, plus toiletries, it becomes so heavy that instead of wearing it as an over the shoulder, I turn it into a backpack. It’s super durable and cute. I sometimes carry it with just my Macbook Pro and a few notebooks and electronics for meetings to make a statement.

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