While menswear markets all around the world continue to grow, the most apparent development remains in the leather goods sector. Nevertheless, accessibility remains an issue for an area of the market so reputedly laden with demand. The jump between mediocre and passable leather goods often involves hundreds of dollars. That problem is complicated through the use of ‘inventive’ marketing practices exploited by brands at almost every pricepoint. It’s a veritable case of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and every man with a credit limit is his own obstinate monarch.
Given the mediocrity of the commercial leather goods market, there remains surprisingly little worth talking about south of the $1000 bracket. To be sure, the products of proven leather purveyors like Goyard & Lotuff are expensive, but are almost always accompanied by an implicit quality guarantee. What is remarkable about Linjer – the brainchild of Scandinavian-Canadian design duo Roman & Jenn – is that the company possesses the aforementioned quality proposition. That praise is made even mightier when considered in the context of a brand selling its flagship product at under $500.
Aesthetically, Linjer’s products echo a kind of Klein-esque minimalism at the heart of contemporary menswear’s success. Stark without being fashionable, simple without being sparse, these are designs appropriate for almost any white collar profession imaginable. Outside of that, the brand’s lack of detailing makes it a reliable choice for off-duty accessories, offering reliable fare in the mould of brands such as Filson – sans waxed cotton – or Mismo. By relating the design process to their personal experience, Jenn & Roman tick many of the boxes that large fashion brands altogether miss when producing bags. The trimmings are extremely good (for any pricepoint), and all Linjer bags are habitually made with YKK Excella zippers and vegetable tanned full grain leather. The duo’s time in the consulting sector has enabled them to design with the benefit of hindsight. The brand’s signature product, “the soft briefcase”, is made with metal taps on the undercarriage and storage compartments calculated to hold the bare necessities necessary for vocational life. The product of such cumulative improvements is a bag that improves the quality of everyday life without becoming a distraction.
At the outset it is necessary to acknowledge TVG have yet to perform any hands-on testing with Linjer’s products. However, based on what is commonly known about other leather goods manufacturers , certain assumptions may be made. Importantly, the brand remains one of a small minority that offer an empirical value proposition at such a pricepoint. Linjer’s crowdfunding origins have been lovingly echoed in their business model. The team there have focused their capital into iterating better design and left modest room for profit. Jenn & Roman issued lengthy (valid) criticisms at the snobbery associated with luxury branding, giving practical focus to the idea that good work bags should be accessible to as many people as possible. Though this is unequivocally commendable, there are other more tentative assertions the brand can’t sustain.
At Linjer, a common assertion tends to be that the only thing separating the startup’s products from those of more established luxury brands is markup. While this is contextually true for many fashion houses – gentlemen’s rules dictate we shan’t do any naming – the claim is an ambitious one and then some. Skins used in Linjer’s products are tanned in Turkey, as opposed to famed dyeing pits in Japan and France. Assembly is performed for the most part by machine, a far cry from the painstaking saddle stitching associated with Frank Clegg & Ortus. And whereas some luxury ateliers perform incredible feats of finishing – a la Corthay’s hand staining service – Linjer’s are completed to a predetermined standard. The aforementioned observations serve to undermine the Herculean claim that Linjer’s products are comparable to a $2000 bag. While this claim may be proven in numerous instances, there remains very good reason to invest in luxury leather goods after diligent research. But I digress.
Unfair comparisons aside, Linjer remain a reliable and well executed brand years into their inception. In a manner not dissimilar to Meermin, Linjer continue to dominate their echelon of the market past the point of newcomer’s novelty. Roman & Jenn were kind enough to give us a sneakpeek at their upcoming website, which includes comprehensive mens’ and womens’ collections on the way. With accessories, day bags, and a developing selection of travel luggage soon to be available, it is the perfect time to trade up from grocery totes to one’s first real leather workbag. As with all products that TVG covers, Linjer bags will reward long-term use and represent excellent value for money. That holistic quality is a different pleasure to decadence, but pleasure all the same.
Linjer’s new e-store will be online in the coming months.