Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Saturday, I review a couple of bags from Cincinati Leather.
While Cincinati Leather is a Vietnamese brand, it’s managed locally by Leatherback Co, a Singaporean purveyor of fine leather goods. Leatherback has kindly sent over two Cincinati Leather products – the Cincinati Leather Briefcase, and the Cincinati Leather Clutch – for me to review. Let’s see if they are any good!
Leatherback Co/Cincinati Leather – the Brand
As aforementioned, Leatherback Co is a local purveyor of fine leather goods. According to Leatherback, they believe in ““things that age well, things that don’t date, things that should weather the storms, that would eventually become living examples of the best”.
One of the brands Leatherback distributes here in Singapore is Cincinati Leather. Based in Vietnam since 2008, the brand works with local leather artisans to create beautiful Italian full-grain leather products. According to the brand, their products “… blend colour, character and functionality to create inspiring collections that are distinctive in style and classic in quality and finish.”
Without further ado, let’s delve into the review!
If you’re a leather lover, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase is for you!
Firstly, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase is crafted out of 100% full-grain cow leather, making it a wondrous thing to carry around. Just look at it – it’s beautiful! For those uninitiated with leather, leather generally comes in three quality tiers – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending order of quality. Unlike the genuine leather on briefcases that one often finds in this price range (from brands like Braun Buffel or Picard), the full-grain leather on the Cincinati Leather Briefcase will patina beautifully, gradually darkening over time. I should stress that it is very hard – if not near on impossible – to find a full-grain leather briefcase under $300, so kudos to Cincinati Leather for being able to offer such a stellar leather quality at a low price point!
The Cincinati branding is embossed neatly, in keeping with the overall minimalist aesthetics of the briefcase. The stitching is tidy as well, with no fraying or loose threads to be seen. There’s also a stainless steel clasp. The clasp is sturdy enough, though it does get smudged a tad too easily for my liking.
On the Cincinati Leather Briefcase, the handles are bolted on, instead of being stitched on as you may see in lower quality briefcases. This should result in greater durability, which is a great boon given that the handles of the briefcase are the ones that gives way the quickest.
In addition, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase also comes with a sling strap! I certainly appreciated this feature, as I’m often a heavy duty user who packs a lot of things into the briefcase when I go out. I loved that the strap is also fashioned out of full-grain cow leather – it’s clear to me that the brand prides itself in its leather.
Furthermore, the side hardware of the briefcase (which the sling hooks onto) are attached to a loop that’s stitched onto the briefcase, which should again lead to enhanced durability.
I have to say, I certainly appreciated the sling feature, as I’m often a heavy duty user who packs a lot of things into the briefcase when I go out. In such cases, the briefcase often becomes too heavy to hand carry, and thus the sling comes handy! As the sling is made out of full-grain leather, it should patina evenly alongside the briefcase, resulting in a nice overall rustic appearance.
In terms of interior compartments, it’s not exactly the most spacious briefcase I’ve ever used. There’s a general compartment for your larger items (books, documents, water bottles, etc), as well as a smaller zipper compartment for your knick-knacks (mints, keys, power banks, etc). There’s also three pen slots, though I’m not sure why anyone would ever need three pens. However, I did like the brand logo that’s engraved on a nice stitched leather patch – that’s a sweet touch.
Of course, there’s also a laptop compartment, which can fit laptops up to 14 inches. I should also highlight that the briefcase is entirely lined in leather, which is not cheap to do! I really appreciated the touch, and found the leather lining to elevate the rustic, artisanal nature of the briefcase. Overall, I think you can fit a decent amount of things inside – it can certainly carry all your essentials. However, if you’re a heavy user (say, you like to bring a lot of things to the office, such as a change of clothes for an after-work gym session) then this might not be the briefcase for you.
That being said, what I enjoyed most about the Cincinati Leather Briefcase is its aesthetics. I mean, look at it! Long-time readers of the website would know that I love leather products, and I feel that the Cincinati Leather Briefcase allows the sheer quality and the natural beauty of its leather to shine. It’s sleek, minimalist, and pairs well with almost any outfit. Honestly, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase is one that I get the most compliments on. I genuinely think that it is beautiful, and at less than S$300, it’s a steal given its full leather construction.
- 100% Full-Grain Cow Leather
- Fully lined in Leather
- Internal compartments – 1 zipper pocket, 1 large slot pocket, 3 pen slots
- Includes a Full-Grain Cow Leather strap
- Handcrafted in Vietnam
- Available in Brown & Light Brown
SIZE & FIT
Height: 25cm, Length: 36.5cm, Width: 9cm
If you don’t like lugging a briefcase around, or want something more casual to carry about during the weekends, the Cincinati Leather Clutch is a great option.
Like the Cincinati Leather Briefcase, the Cincinati Leather Clutch is fashioned out of 100% full-grain leather. As aforementioned, this means that the clutch will patina beautifully over time, resulting in a darker, more opulent hue. Once again, I think that the leather is stunning here – they really let the leather shine. There’s a little leather wristlet too, made out of the same full-grain leather.
Like on the Cincinati Leather Briefcase, the stitching on the Cincinati Leather Briefcase is tidy, with any loose or fraying ends. The clasp used is the same as well – polished stainless steel. Curiously, Cincinati Leather opted to drop the engraved branding on the exterior of the clutch.
Instead, the branding is subtly engraved on the inner-side of the clutch’s flap. I should also mention that leather lining is used here, with a suede-like texture. It’s soft and supple to the touch, giving the clutch a nice premium feel which belies its affordable price tag.
Instead of leather, fabric is used to line the main compartment of the clutch – probably for cost-saving reasons. I personally don’t mind it much, and I felt that the beige colour of the fabric complements well with the rest of the leather clutch. In terms of storage capacity, the clutch is big enough to hold a regular size Ipad, as well as several other small items. However, I wished that there were smaller compartments, or perhaps a zippered compartment for me to store my smaller items. I usually bring small objects such as keys/mints/power banks etc out, and I would have preferred them to be separated from larger items such as an Ipad or a book. There’s a practical element to this as well – I wouldn’t want to put my keys alongside my Ipad in the clutch for fear of scratches. I think the utility aspect can be improved here.
Nevertheless, I do think that the Cincinati Leather Clutch looks stunning as a fashion accessory. The sheen of the full grain leather pops, and it’s so versatile that the clutch would look at home in both a formal and casual setting. It adds the finishing touch to an outfit, while fulfilling a practical need at the same time. At around S$100 I think the Cincinati Leather Clutch a great value buy, provided you’re not looking to stuff it to the brim!
- 100% Full-Grain Cow Leather
- Lined in Leather & Fabric
- Includes a leather strap
- Handcrafted in Vietnam
- Available in Brown & Light Brown
SIZE & FIT
Height: 21.5cm, Length: 32cm
Shootout – Cincinati Leather Briefcase vs LAVNG Soft Leather Briefcase
If you’re a fan of minimalist leather briefcases that won’t break the bank, the LAVNG Soft Leather Briefcase is probably the best alternative to the Cincinati Leather Briefcase.
In terms of specifications, both briefcases possess superb build quality. Both bags are crafted out of full-grain leather, come with a sling strap made out of full grain leather, have bolted on handles and hardware, and are generally products that should last you for a decade, if not more. In terms of quality of materials used, there’s really very little separating the two briefcases. If I’m nitpicking however, I would say that the LAVNG soft leather briefcase has a slight edge due to its vegetable tanned leather. The full-grain leather that LAVNG uses comes vegetable (or what LAVNG calls “organic”) tanned, which lends a more natural tone to the leather and should be less abrasive to the skin as compared to regular chrome tanned leather (which are tanned by chemicals).
From a utility standpoint, I think the LAVNG briefcase has the edge as well – it’s simply more spacious on the inside, and even comes with a removable laptop sleeve! If you’re more of a heavy duty user, the LAVNG Soft Leather Briefcase would probably be a better choice. However, I would say that I prefer the aesthetics of the Cincinati Leather Briefcase more. I love its sleek, minimalist silhouette, and I love how the quality of the leather is highlighted. When paired with an outfit, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase really pops, whereas the LAVNG Soft Leather Briefcsae is more subdued.
In addition, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase is considerably cheaper than the LAVNG Soft Leather Briefcase. All in all, which briefcase is better for you depends on your needs. If you’re a heavy duty user looking for an everyday briefcase for the office, the LAVNG briefcase would be a better pick. If you’re more of a creative individual, and believe in form over function, then the Cincinati Leather Briefcase makes for the perfect compliment to any outfit. That being said, I genuinely think that both are superb leather briefcases – you can’t go wrong with either!
Conclusion – so Cincinati Leather “shiok” or not?
I definitely think so, especially if you’re someone who appreciates quality leather. Personally, I think Cincinati Leather to offer some of the best bang-for-buck leather goods on the market today. Take for instance the Cincinati Leather Briefcase – where else can you find a full-grain leather briefcase for under S$300? I think they look great as well, with their minimalist, rustic, almost retro aesthetic successfully differentiating themselves from the other affordable briefcases available today, many of which have that “office bag” look. Sure, it may not be your best option if you’re the type to lug a ton of things to the office, but for those that are looking for great looking quality leather products that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, Cincinati Leather is a terrific value proposition.
For those interested, Leatherback Co – the local distributor of Cincinati Leather – has offered readers an exclusive 15% off all products store-wide! Simply use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout. After the discount, the Cincinati Leather Briefcase can be had for S$298, while the Cincinati Leather Clutch would costs just S$102. That’s incredible value for money, in my opinion!
Buy Cincinati Leather products here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!