Leather accessories brand, Harber London, attempts to go back to the basics in a lot of ways, focusing on no-frills function.
Does no-frills mean boring and uninspired though? And just how does their leather stack up in their price range?
I’ve been using two items from the Harber London collection for weeks now. We’ll answer those questions and more!
The Bottom Line
Harber London offers a compelling value proposition thanks to their use of full-grain leather and their simple yet classic—not to mention practical—designs.
The Everyday Briefcase and Card Wallet I tried out are (mostly) user-friendly and have a non-intimidating kind of fashion-forwardness that can satisfy a range of personal styles.
About Harber London, the Brand: A Focus on Simplicity and Function
Harber London started in 2012 as an answer to a gap in the market at the time: High-quality, laptop sleeves. This is likely why you find so many reviews on the brand in the tech realm.
Still, their attempts at straight-forward design and long-lasting function caught the eye of those interested in minimalist or classic fashions. A big part of this had to do with their focus on durable materials, in this case, good leather.
Harber London uses only full-grain leather, aka the best kind that wears in before wearing out, and patinates over time. Even more clever, is that they source this leather from Spain.
Though Italy tends to get the spotlight when it comes to the industry, Spain has an equally long history in leather, and boasts excellent craftsmanship. Harber London sources Spanish artisans to hand-make their products.
First Impressions: Promising, Right Out of the Box
I tested out two Harber London pieces: The Everyday Leather Briefcase in tan and the Card Wallet with RFID Protection in burgundy.
The briefcase came in a white Harber London dust bag, along with its detachable strap, while the wallet was in a pretty elegant invitation-style paper stock.
The leather on both items smelled very oaky, which was a good sign. It didn’t have that plasticky scent (or lack of a scent) that you get with cheap, fake, or overly treated leathers.
The main body of the briefcase was a soft, buttery, and subtly textured leather (you wouldn’t see this texturing in non close-up photographs). The entire wallet was made of this same variation.
If you press on the body of the briefcase with your finger, the material wrinkles deeper into its texturing, then pops right back up, displaying a healthy litheness.
I also loved the colors. The tan had a slight honey hue, but was neutral enough to go with any cool shades, and the burgundy was impressively deep yet vivid. Maroon shades can be hard to do on cheap leathers. It either ends up unsophisticatedly bright or too murky.
So basically, good initial impressions overall.
Style: The Structured Unstructured Look
Both the wallet and the briefcase are exceedingly simple in their design and look.
Aesthetically, the wallet is pretty standard. It’s flat, about three and half inches by a little over four, and sinks nicely into your pocket.
Other than a small embossed logo at the corner, there’s nothing unconventional about the look, which allows the leather and color to take center stage.
The Everyday Leather Briefcase sports that softer look that brands like Gucci have brought back into the attention of the trendy—though it’s a timeless, elegant look overall. I think this aesthetic is super versatile.
The parts where pieces are stitched together aren’t fortified with any harder, tougher boot-like leather, but it isn’t shapeless either. It’s somewhere between an old-fashioned, architecturally hard-lined briefcase and a luxury purse.
Style-wise, it’s like the briefcase equivalent of a high-quality leather loafer. You can wear it to work, and you can wear it with jeans.
The leather is so obviously lush, that it doesn’t need to be heavily oiled and extra shiny to communicate its quality.
And for me, personally, as someone who doesn’t enjoy going too formal or too casual, it’s the perfect “soft but tailored” style.
Overall, in a world where men wear athletic backpacks with their
Construction: Full-grain, With a Broken-in Feel
According to Harber London, they only use full-grain leather on all of their products, and as mentioned under my first impressions, this seems pretty obvious.
This continued to hold up after weeks of using the briefcase and wallet. The great thing about leather, is even if a lower grade manages to trick you initially, it doesn’t take a lot for it to start looking worn out.
Plus, the fact both the pieces I used were matte is a good sign that there aren’t any aesthetic treatments to hide the quality.
As far as other signifiers of quality, I noticed that even deep nail marks pop back up eventually, and that the natural leather smell never really goes away.
I don’t recommend this, but as a test, I overstuffed the briefcase with as many items that will fit in it while still being able to close the zipper.
I kept it like that in my closet all day. Once I relieved the bag of the items, the wrinkles from over expansion mostly filled in within an hour.
The inside is made of cotton twill that, according to Harber, is a natural and renewable fiber. With some exceptions that we’ll get into in the next section, it’s been a good combination of soft and strong.
The bottom is pretty solid, and the sturdiest part of the whole briefcase. It travels halfway up the sides, which fortifies the entire architecture of the bag, and ensures it doesn’t bow when you put heavy things in there.
Which leads us to functionality…
Function: Simple, With a Lot of Clever Touches
It has the softness of a travel bag, giving just a touch more stretch than the average briefcase. The handles are made of the same buttery leather as the body, but it’s folded and fortified with stitching and hardware where your hands would grasp it, offering sturdiness.
There’s also a harder leather strip on the back panel, providing extra options for convenient grabbing.
For example, when I had the briefcase in the overhead compartment of an airplane, it was easy for me to quickly feel for and grab that strip, despite how my small stature kept the bag’s arrangement completely out of my sightline.
Another thing I was able to use that strip for, was carrying the briefcase in a flat orientation, like a pizza box.
This will rarely come up, but if you have something long that needs to sit flat and that you don’t don’t want to squish (in my case, it was a plastic container tray of mini cupcakes for a quick commute), that strip can work as a makeshift handle.
As mentioned, the inside is made of a canvas-like cotton twill. Overall, despite the simple compartment arrangement, there are effective touches that keep everything in place.
On one side of the interior is a large pocket that can easily fit a tablet, notepad, or a magazine or book. The top lip has a magnet that keeps it shut, which is great for loose leaf documents during travel.
Sewn onto the front of that, are three compartments, where I kept wallets, passports, and anything portable and of that nature. One of the pockets has a leather strip with a small hook attached to it that you can keep your keys on.
This strip-and-hook is removable via magnet, making it easy to attach and detach without having to do any finessing.
In general, Harber London makes clever use of magnets.
In front of those pockets is a leather strip, separated into a five-pen holder, then two slightly bigger holders where I keep my phone charger and a rolled up computer charger.
I read some reviews mentioning the internal pen loops are too low into the case, but I found them to be fine.
It likely depends on how full your briefcase is, since a more tightly-packed situation makes squeezing your hand into the midpoint of the interior a bit more inconvenient.
On the other side of the interior are two big compartments for your laptop with a secure button.
Attached to these, are stretchy pockets that I thought were way too loose. They’re definitely meant to be the “flexible” compartments, but it seems as if they were already overstretched and just drooped really low.
I’d say this is the only design miss in an otherwise well-organized and user-friendly interior.
A few notes…
Re: the briefcase
My biggest complaint with the design and function is with the woven cloth strap, and it seems I’m not alone in this. I don’t think it’s that bad, but it could use some improvements, for sure.
It’s a bit thin, though the leather shoulder rest ensures it’s still comfortable on your body. Moreover, the hooks at the end are a bit confusing.
I eventually realized that you attach them to the handles on the briefcase, but even then, they don’t fully hook around the handles, but instead clip onto them. It’s certainly quite secure, but has a bit of a DIY look and vibe.
Some reviewers mention that the woven cloth takes away from the look of the briefcase, which I don’t think it does.
I get that a leather construction may have a classier aesthetic, but the strap they come with is more practical, comfortable, and easily adjustable.
What I like most about the strap is that you can choose to clip both sides of it onto one side of the briefcase, which grants you easier access to the inside of the bag.
Or, you can clip each end to the different handles on each side of the briefcase, which is more secure like a traditional messenger bag.
The former arrangement is helpful when you’re constantly taking things in and out of your bag, like if you’re a journalist on assignment with your notebook or tablet, or if you’re on holiday, with a proper, non-phone, camera.
Since each side of the strap is on one side, it doesn’t squeeze the main opening of the briefcase shut.
And finally, a quick note on the wallet:
Harber London mentions that it can fit 18 cards. I stuffed 20 in there, as a test, and the magnet closure still held up!
The left main compartment (when you’re looking at it directly), even has a pull tab, making it easy to get your cards out.
Pros and Cons of Harber London
- excellent quality full-grain leather that’s both soft and sturdy
- colors are vivid, but not overly saturated, including in darker hues like my burgundy wallet
- Most of the design is straight-forward and functional, with well thought-out details like strategic magnets and close-to-body straps
- Simple designs and well-constructed accessories
- current collection is pretty comprehensive, with travel bags and backpacks, as well as briefcases
- The briefcase’s strap was initially difficult to figure out and feels like an afterthought
- Droopiness of the briefcase’s inner pockets is a bit strange
- The accessories, like my wallet, come in several shades, but the bags themselves are pretty limited in colorways
FAQs about Harber London
Is Harber London a good brand?
Overall, yes. Though their designs are simple, this London-based, family-run brand uses high-quality full-grain leather to make their products.
Where are HarbEr London wallets made?
They’re hand-made by leather artisans in Spain.
Is HarbEr London considered luxury?
Considering the quality of the leather and the handcrafted nature of their products, their goods are certainly luxurious. As a new brand, they aren’t a big name, nor do they make anything particularly complex, but there’s no denying Harber London’s artisanal and long-lasting value.
A Worthwhile Consideration For Leather Goods
Overall, Harber London offers beautiful, elegant, reliable, and easy-to-use bags and accessories, with absolute zero extra, unnecessary frills. The premium leather ensures that the products will last a long time and likely patinate beautifully.
It’s not the cheapest on the market, but it isn’t unfair by any means, and fills a small niche in the market: Upper-mid-tier pricing of high-quality materials that’s good enough in formal situations, but has a soft, unstructured aesthetic that’s appropriate for casual situations.
And as mentioned, there’s definitely a hand-crafted, artisanal feel that adds to its value. In fact, Harber London even mentions that the specs of the Everyday Briefcase slightly varies, since it’s hand-cut.
We hope this was helpful!
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