OTC: What We Carry Everyday

What I Carry Picture OTC: What We Carry Everyday

OTC was recently asked to contribute a photo to the British site Everyday Carry UK showing what our editor-in-chief has in his bag and on his person any given day.  As bags and the stuff of life have always been a big part of OTC, we were happy to oblige.

While the sack may change based on need, style, and mood, what’s inside is fairly consistent.  When we tried to edit all the stuff down to a manageable representation of gear, one item inadvertently left out of the photo was a fantastic Chester Mox wallet that keeps his all-important Metro pass secure.  In addition, although out of view, the bag used that day was the Courier Messenger Bag from Frank Clegg.

This brief exercise reminded us of the many great brands, creative companies, and exceptional individuals we have met over the years.  We have linked to a few of those brands represented here.

Clockwise from top:

 

Frank Clegg Launches New Web Presence

President Obama Frank Clegg Bag Frank Clegg Launches New Web Presence
Today, we are excited to announce that master leather craftsman Frank Clegg has launched a completely new website.  With a clean new look that highlights his exceptional collection of handcrafted leather goods, Frank’s new site is a study in focus and clarity.

Frank Clegg has been in the luxury goods business for more than 40 years and makes some of the best leather travel bags, briefcases, and classic totes, and accessories on the market.  While Frank and his small team of craftsmen design and build elegant leather goods under the Frank Clegg name, the workshop also produces outstanding products for some of the most revered of American luxury labels.

Frank is an artist of the old school; he learned craft over time and understands that when true luxury is involved, less is definitely more.  What makes Frank particularly unique is that he is both a designer and a craftsman.  Everything sold by Frank Clegg was designed by him and made in-house.

Black Ziptop Frank Clegg Frank Clegg Launches New Web PresenceIn fact, he is held in such high esteem that when the White House went looking for a made-in-America personal briefcase for President Obama, they turned to Frank.  That Zip-Top Briefcase next to the Resolute Desk in the photo above, Frank made that himself.

You only need to examine a Frank Clegg product to know that he doesn’t just make leather bags; he crafts heirlooms, one at a time, by hand.  Luxury leather work is a deceivingly complex craft. Even the modern conveniences of machines and computerized design must bow to the master of time, because it still takes time to create such durable beauty.

Indeed, Frank may practice an age-old craft, but this creative innovator is very much on the pulse of today’s luxury goods market.

To that end, the new website also showcases a few new bags, including the moderne Diablo Briefcase and a Suede Shield Duffle Bag that is part of his collection with designer Michael Bastain, both below:

Frank Clegg Diablo Briefcase Frank Clegg Launches New Web Presence

Frank Clegg Michael Bastian Suede Duffle Frank Clegg Launches New Web Presence

 

Trackline Belt: Casually Sharp

Trackline Belt Trackline Belt: Casually Sharp

Lately, micro-adjust belts seem to be making more and more appearances, and for the most part it’s a nice chance of pace for many men.  Too often we have to deal with a belt that lands exactly between two holes and neither is comfortable.  Either it’s too loose or too tight – usually because we have eaten too much.  For whatever reason, an ill-fitting belt can ruin your day.

Belts that adjust without holes and instead rely on an adjustable track built into the backside of the belt’ strap can be a tricky endeavor.  Even though they are really just an evolutionary step forward from  friction or box frame buckles, their inherent mechanical design dictates a buckle of a certain form and bulk.  Also, they have typically been less than stylish and less than comfortable to actually wear.

We have previously highlighted a more formal version of the adjustable belt, but until now have not found a good casual version worthy of OTC’s readers.  Kore has come up with a great option for casual wear with its Trackline belt.  The simple and low-profile 16 gauge stainless steel buckle is available in a variety of designs and you can choose between brown and black  1 3/8 inch full grain leather straps.

We are particularly partial to the Evolve buckle because of its design reference to a classic engine turned belt buckle.  With clearly marked waist measurement increments on the back of the strap, it’s easy to size and quickly attach the buckle.  The larger size of the buckles pair well with jeans and khakis, and with 40 size positions from which to choose, your belt will fit just right.

While we typically err on the side of classic and timeless, at only $69.00, adding this modern take (and function) on a classic style is something we wholly endorse.

 

Evolve Buckle with Brown Strap Trackline Belt: Casually Sharp

 

H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

hb British Racing Green Breast Wallet 1024x668 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

H&B London is the kind of brand you might expect to find in England.  Small and smartly turned out, the firm produces exclusive luxury goods in small batches.  Launched this year, they currently offer two styles of mens wallets – breast pocket and billfold – and a range of geometrically unique sterling silver cufflinks.   Though grounded in traditional artisanship, H&B is not staid per se, even though its client list includes members of the British royal family.

Founder and Managing Director, Stephen Brister, told us that the company’s primary commitment to real luxury. “Part of the reason I founded the company was because I was disillusioned with the poor quality of products that were being sold by mainstream luxury brands,” he said. “For me luxury means the highest quality materials crafted by the finest artisans to make something rare and exclusive. So quality and craftsmanship are very much part of the DNA of H&B London.”

OTC has been using the British Racing Green Breast Pocket Wallet daily for about one month and, in a word, we find it to be exceptional.  The size and layout are traditional, with eight card slots and three receipt/currency pockets.  Nothing feels cramped or crowded; credit cards easily glide in and out of their spaces and the main currency pocket is easy to access.  Though, as noted above, the structure of the wallet is traditional, it is very much contemporary in nuance and finish.  It is a classic wallet, yes, but not old-fashioned.  Perhaps the word which best describes it is “elegant.”

2013 10 04 10.16.19 300x225 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade WalletsWhat truly sets this wallet apart from others we have tested is the quality of the craftsmanship and materials.  Each H&B London wallet is handmade in London by one of only three craftsman.  The leather is impeccably smooth and supple and the wallet’s refined construction provides a firm structure without feeling stiff or unyielding.

The finish on our British Racing Green wallet is both rich and translucent, allowing the natural pattern of the flawless hide to come through.  Brister feels that a luxury product should be made from the finest materials, be rare and exclusive, and adhere to exceedingly high standards. For example, H&B London’s leather goods are made from the most exclusive Italian leather from the hides of cattle grazed in the Alps where there are no barbed fences or mosquitoes to blemish their skin.  By definition, that’s a small universe of leather supply.

H&B London started with wallets because, perhaps more than any other male accessory, one’s wallet is used and handled daily.  Ours has aged gently and beautifully, acquiring the inevitable nicks and bumps of life that only add to its distinguished patina.

The firm is also happy to accommodate bespoke orders, making anything from briefcases or handbags to wallets and purses.  You can email them directly at bespoke@handblondon.com or call them on +44(0)20 8546 4775.

british racing green breast pocket wallet 2 1024x1024 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

8118468159 a5fa67a252 h 1024x742 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

hb London Hexagon Cufflinks 1024x690 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

hb london wallet H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Walletshb British Racing Green Wallet Detail 1024x1024 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

 

 

BeltCraft: Belts Designed By You

OTC Classic by BeltCraft BeltCraft: Belts Designed By You

Belts are one of the few ways the most men can strike a personal note in their wardrobe.  A belt is both practical and decorative, traits which make it a genuinely important item in your sartorial arsenal.  Sadly, belts are also an accessory to which too many men pay too little, if any, attention.

From wearing a one-inch glossy dress calfskin version with clearly casual khakis to refusing to acknowledge that a favorite belt should have been retired (read “thrown away”) years ago, men often fail to recognize the real importance of a good belt.  As with any other accessory or piece of clothing, choosing your belt should be an active and conscious decision.

BeltCraft Belts 300x176 BeltCraft: Belts Designed By YouThe right belt brings an outfit together, often blending into the overall harmony of your ensemble and not even being noticed.  Forest for the trees, if you will.  In contrast, the wrong belt can instantly draw attention to the disharmony of your clothing and quickly distract from what you say or do.

When someone dresses well, you know it, even if you are not able to put your finger on what it is that makes him look so great.  However, when dressed poorly, it is often immediately obvious what has gone wrong.  And often, it’s the small things, like a belt.

To make life a little bit easier, a company we simply love, BeltCraft, will help you design your very own customized belt that fits correctly and meets your own needs.  From formal or casually colorful, textured to sleek and simple, this innovative company lets you create the belt you really need; or just want.  These are top quality belts, individually hand crafted in New York City by a young belt maker using only the highest-grade leathers, suedes, and cottons.  All their buckles are solid brass and also made in America.  Suffice it to say, these guys are all about making the best belts they can possibly make.

We pulled together the “OTC Classic” as a great all purpose go-to belt.  Outside of a suit and tie, this matte finished cognac leather belt with a rounded silver buckle is perfectly appropriate for jeans, cords, or chinos.  It even looks damn sharp with a dressed-down pair of grey flannels.  The white contrast stitching gives the belt a slightly casual feel while the polished edges and tapered tip balance that informality with timeless, dressy details.

The BeltCraft site is easy to navigate and incredibly informative.  You can make your own or view designs already available from BeltCraft or, as with the OTC Classic, belts designed by other customers.  For what you get, the prices charged – topping out at $69 at the time of writing – are incredibly fair.

So, now you have no excuse for not having a couple of belts that work just right, no matter what you have on.  Check out BeltCraft’s video below to learn more.