Herring Shoes is a family-owned British company that has a well-deserved reputation in the online style community for their high quality English footwear, frequent discounts, and top-notch customer service. Herring recently launched a new line of luggage and, coincidentally, I found myself in need of a new briefcase. It was destiny.
I ordered the Aldgate briefcase in brown, but Herring mistakenly shipped me the briefcase in black. When I informed Herring of the mistake, they immediately mailed me the correct briefcase via DHL, with overnight shipping at their cost. That’s the kind of service that Herring has built their reputation on; this company is consistently reliable, and they go the extra mile to make sure that their customers are satisfied.
The black. All black. None more black.
My first impression of the Aldgate was positive right out of the gate. It’s immediately apparent that the Aldgate is a high-quality piece of luggage. The leather is thick and soft without any blemishes, the stitching is as close to flawless as humanly possible, and the brass hardware feels like it will last for years. The Aldgate is fair-sized at 16.25″ wide, 12.5″ high, and 6″ deep. It’s also surprisingly heavy; at roughly 8lbs, the Aldgate is a substantial briefcase.
The briefcase’s leather is smooth, but heavyweight. The leather is thicker and more resilient than fine dress calf. Herring has clearly made durability a priority, and in that sense the Aldgate reminds me of Ben Madeska’s Dappered-reviewed Saddleback Leather briefcase.
Notice the contrasting lighter brown straps. Bit of a surprise there.
The black Aldgate is matte and uniform with a bit of texture to the leather. The leather is not as even or shiny as dress calf. There are small creases that reveal the natural pattern in the leather. In contrast, the brown Aldgate is visibly smooth with minimal creases. The brown leather is a beautiful mix of dark, rich tones that resemble antiqued mahogany. Both are handsome bags.
When I first inspected the brown Aldgate I was surprised to find that the leather straps on the side were made with a mid-tan leather that contrasts noticeably with the briefcase’s dark brown leather. I contacted Herring to ask about this, and they replied saying that the contrasting straps are a new feature that will be present on all of the brown briefcases going forward. Odd, and certainly not what I was expecting, being that the image on their website showed a case made of all the same color leather.
The Aldgate’s brass hardware is similarly top-quality. The interior of the briefcase is secured by two brass clasps that are attached to quick-release tabs. I find that the quick-release tabs are easy to use, and they make opening the bag quick and convenient. I’m confident that the clasps will last through years of daily wear.
Leather is quite nice for the price. Hardware is terrific.
The Aldgate has two front pockets that are secured with small snap fasteners. These pockets are open at the top, and they’re the perfect size for a small paperback book, electronic gadgets, or other items that one might want quickly accessible.
The inside of the briefcase’s flap is lined with thick, velvety suede. The interior is divided into two compartments by a large zip pocket. There are slots on the front of the zip pocket for pens, business cards, and a mobile phone. The rear compartment is lightly padded, perfect for a laptop. The back of the briefcase has a zippered pocket that’s just large enough to fit a thick magazine.
There are a few criticisms:
- Again, I need to mention that the leather straps on the side of the brown Aldgate are made with mid-tan leather. The lighter leather contrasts sharply with the dark brown of the rest of the bag. Some will love the contrast, but I’m not a fan; they say it was intentional, but it looks like a manufacturing mistake to me.
- Herring does not provide any stated warranty for the Aldgate. For a briefcase of this cost and quality, some are going to expect a 3-5 year warranty at the minimum.
- The briefcase was shipped in an unpadded box, and wrapped in a canvas sack. This is a top quality luxury item, and a little presentation goes a long way.
The Aldgate is manufactured for Herring by a company named Ashwood Leather in Birmingham, England. The briefcase design is also available through third party retailers Pediwear and Amazon.co.uk under the Ashwood brand name. Herring’s customized version differs in that it is manufactured with higher-quality leather, and the inside of the top flap is lined with suede.
Overall, Herring’s Aldgate briefcase represents an excellent value. The quality is exceptional, the style is timeless, and the design is ideal for those of us who use our briefcases for both work and travel. Just be aware that the brown option might show up with those contrasting straps, which isn’t what everyone will want.