All three items belong to Gnome & Bow’s Jekyll’s Hyde Collection, which mostly features reversible products. In my opinion, Jekyll’s Hyde is Gnome & Bow’s strongest collection – it’s certainly the most unique. I previously reviewed the Strand Briefcase which also belonged to the Jekyll’s Hyde collection. I have to say that till date, the Strand Briefcase is the favourite briefcase that I’ve reviewed!
Unfortunately, the Strand Briefcase has since sold out, and will no longer be produced. Fortunately, Gnome & Bow just introduced new Jekyll’s Hyde offerings. Let’s see if they are any good!
Gnome & Bow – the Brand
I’ve previously covered Gnome & Bow as a brand in my review article of the Kale Backpack here. If you like to know more about this Singaporean brand, do read the article above!
I shall start with the Milton Briefcase, which Gnome & Bow states “was created with the shape-shifting sophisticate in mind – sharp slim design, lightweight and infinitely versatile.”
Like the Strand Briefcase, the Milton Briefcase has two appearances – what I call the “Jekyll” (formal) form, and the “Hyde” (casual) form. Gnome & Bow designed this so that the bag is suitable both for work at the office, as well as after-work hours at the bar. I must admit, this is quite genius. It legitimately feels like owning two bags in one, due to the starkly different appearances of the two forms. I find it very cool, and it’s bound to be a conversation starter. At the front, one can see Gnome & Bow’s signature Oxblood stitching on the brand label, which is a very nice touch.
In its more formal “Jekyll” form, the outerside of the briefcase is made of water-resistant PU-backed nylon. As compared to polyester (commonly found in cheaper briefcases), nylon feels more premium to the touch due to its smoothness, and is also stronger and more durable. As seen in the above photo, the exterior nylon material has a glossy look, adding luster to the briefcase. Furthermore, the nylon that Gnome & Bow uses is augmented by a PVC that allows the bag to quickly spring back to shape when crumpled.
In the briefcase’s more casual “Hyde” form, the exterior is made of cotton canvas. The cotton canvas feels soft and supple to the touch, and is also coated with a water-resistant coating to ensure protection for the fabric. Wondering how the bag reverses to transform into these two vastly differing looks? The answer lies in the two side buttons found at the top of the bag. To reverse the bag, simply undo the two side buttons and flip to reveal two contrasting looks! I have to admit, I find this a stroke of genius. This makes reversing the Milton Briefcase a breeze, and it is much simpler to reverse the Milton Briefcase than the Strand Briefcase, where one had to physically reverse it from the inside-out. Furthermore, one can reverse the Milton Briefcase on the fly, without taking out one’s items in the bag first.
All of us who have owned bags before (be it briefcases or backpacks) know that the zippers are often the first area to spoil. Fortunately, Gnome & Bow uses YKK Japan Excella zippers here for greater durability. The zipping action here is very smooth, and they have not jammed on me in the 1 month+ time that I have been using them. Even if that unfortunately happens, there’s a one-year warranty on all hardware in case you run into any issues!
The Milton Briefcase comes with a nylon webbing strap – Gnome & Bow states that it is “ultra-dense” for greater durability. I personally find a sling essential on a briefcase – I’m a heavy duty user, and often pack my briefcase to the brim. As such, it becomes unbearably heavy especially after a long day. The ability to sling a briefcase is a life-saver. The strap here is well-made, as are the hardware that connects the strap to the briefcase.
According to Gnome & Bow, the handles of the bag are “double reinforced with hidden webbing at the handles and D-rings”, which should result in greater durability. Unfortunately, I found the handles of the bag a tad too slim for my liking. It might look good given the slim profile of the Milton Briefcase, but it just wasn’t that comfortable due to a lack of padding. As aforementioned, I’m a heavy duty user – as such, the briefcase often gets heavy towards the end of the day. I find the thin handles cutting into my hands as a result, and it is often at this point that I resort to using the sling.
The Milton Briefcase features 2 compartments, one for your laptop (13″/14″ laptop or 15″ Apple MacBook Pro) and one for….well, everything else! There’s also two 2 slots in the ‘everything else’ compartment, which I used as tech slots to store my earphones, power bank and mouse. There’s even a pen slot! Overall, I find the storage capacity of the Milton Briefcase to be decent. It’s not exactly spacious, but I could definitely fit everything I need for a day in the office (laptop, charger, mouse, power bank, earphones, various documents, book, bottle) in the Milton Briefcase! What I like most though, is the use of the cotton Maverick canvas as the inner lining of the compartments. Not only does it look dope, it feels great to the touch as well.
All in all, I think the Milton Briefcase is a great option for someone seeking a slimmer briefcase. I love its reversible nature, and I could easily store everything I needed for a day in the office. I find the price alright as well – at S$313 (after promo code below) it’s not exactly a steal, but considering that you’re essentially getting two bag designs in one, I would definitely say that the price is more than justified!
If you’re looking for something even smaller, there’s also the Milton Crossbody Clutch!
The Milton Crossbody Clutch is very similar to the Milton Briefcase – it is also reversible, and uses pretty much the exact same materials in its construction. Like the Milton Briefcase, the outerside of the Milton Crossbody Clutch (in its “Jekyll” form) is nylon. The only difference is that it comes in a smaller form factor!
I’ll like to highlight the quality of the stitching here, which I neglected in my review of the Milton Briefcase. I’m quite impressed with the stitching displayed here – all threads are tidily stitched, with no visible fraying. The Oxblood handstitching on the bookmark leather tag is beautiful as well, and adds an aura of luxury to the bag.
Flip the Milton Crossbody Clutch over, and you will be greeted by the same Maverick cotton canvas found on the Milton Briefcase. I have to say – I simply love the design of the Maverick canvas. I love the Victorian vibe it exudes – very Sherlock-esque. The whimsical nature speaks to my heart, especially after work. Reversing the Milton Crossbody Clutch to its “Hyde” form just makes me want to go to the Atlas Bar for a drink!
The Milton Crossbody Clutch is smaller than the Milton Briefcase, and is thus handy enough to clutch (no pun intended) in one hand.
However, if you so desire, there’s also a nylon strap that’s included. You can sling the clutch, though I personally slinging it a tad too feminine for my tastes due to the thinness of the strap.
Similar to the Milton Briefcase, the Milton Crossbody Clutch features 2 main compartments. Unlike the Milton Briefcase, the Milton Crossbody Clutch is only large enough to store an Ipad – not a full sized laptop. To me, this is its greatest limitation. If I’m going to the office, a laptop is essential. As such, this restricts the usage of the Milton Crossbody Clutch to a casual, “going-out” one for me. For that situation, I personally find the Abbey Clutch -reviewed below- more suited to my needs. The Abbey Clutch also happens to be half the price of the Milton Crossbody Clutch!
Personally, the Milton Crossbody Clutch spoke the least to me. If I was going to the office, the Milton Briefcase is perfect. If I was going out with friends, the Abbey Clutch fits the bill. In my time with the Milton Crossbody Clutch, I just couldn’t find an occasion in which I would pick it over the other two. At S$241 (after promo code), it’s a tad steep for a clutch as well. That being said, I think the Milton Crossbody Clutch is a product that is perhaps better suited to the female market – my mum loves it!
Gnome & Bow – Abbey Clutch
Last but not least, Gnome & Bow also sent me their Abbey Clutch for review!
In terms of materials, the Abbey Clutch is again near-identical to the abovementioned Milton bags. One gets full-grain leather accents, water-resistant PU-backed nylon (in its “Jekyll” form as seen above), YKK Japan Excella Zippers, as well as the Gnome & Bow’s signature Oxblood hand-stitched details.
Flip the bag over, and the Abbey Clutch looks completely different. Unlike the Milton bags, there’s no side buttons, no reversing – the Abbey Clutch is simply a two-faced bag. I personally find the look of the Abbey Clutch sleeker without the leather strip at the top and the side buttons – the beautiful Maverick cotton canvas can be viewed in its full glory.
Unlike the Milton bags, there’s also no sling on the Abbey Clutch. Instead, we get a leather wristlet strap. That’s fine by me though, as the Abbey Clutch is highly unlikely to get as heavy as the Milton Briefcase!
In addition, the Abbey Clutch only features one compartment, unlike the Milton bags which has two. However, the Abbey Clutch is still able to fit a Ipad (though rather snugly) in it, and still manages to include 2 slots for essentials such as earphones and a power bank, as well as a pen slot. Again, the fabulous Maverick cotton canvas lining is used here!
Overall, I really liked the Abbey Clutch. It’s my go to bag now when I go out. It has a svelte form factor, yet still manages to store my “going out essentials” – an Ipad/Kindle to keep myself occupied on the train, a pen for signing stuff, compartments to store my earphones and power bank respectively, with enough space leftover to accommodate a small bottle of water! In my opinion, it’s the perfect “going out” bag for a weekend meetup with friends. At just S$115 (after promo code below), it won’t break the bank either!
Shootout – Gnome & Bow vs Pedro
Pedro is probably the most recognisable local fashion label for menswear. They stock a variety of men bags, including clutch bags. As such, I’ll be comparing the Gnome & Bow Abbey Clutch against the Pedro Leather Zipper Clutch for today!
In terms of build quality, I’ll say that the Gnome & Bow Abbey Clutch has a slight edge. Sure – the Pedro Clutch is made out of leather, but it is merely genuine leather. For those uninitiated with leather, genuine leather is the cheapest and lowest quality tier of leather. It does not patina, and will peel off over time. In contrast, the nylon and cotton canvas used in the construction of the Abbey Clutch is designed to be durable, with water-resistant features designed to withstand rain during Singapore’s monsoon season. In addition, the Abbey Clutch uses YKK Japan Excella zippers, and features a lovely Maverick design Cotton Canvas. As such, I will say that the Abbey Clutch has the better build quality.
In terms of design, I have to give it to the Gnome & Bow Abbey Clutch. The Victorian inspired Maverick print is unique, and I love how the Abbey Clutch transforms when flipped. It’s cool AF. In comparison, the Pedro Leather Zipper Clutch looks rather ordinary – there’s nothing much wrong with it, but it pretty much looks like any other leather clutch out there. Unlike the Gnome & Bow Abbey Clutch, there’s nothing distinctive about the design. As such, from an aesthetics perspective, I have to give the win to the Gnome & Bow Abbey Clutch as well.
In terms of price, both clutches cost almost the same. As such, I have to declare the Gnome & Bow Abbey Clutch as the winner of this shootout!
Conclusion – so the Gnome & Bow Bags “shiok” anot?
Yup, definitely. I found myself using the Milton Briefcase during the weekdays to the office (and reversing it for the afterwork hours), and turning to the Abbey Clutch when I go out with friends during the weekends. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find an occasion for the Milton Crossbody Clutch, but my mom is absolutely obsessed with it and loves it to bits – she takes both to work and when she’s going out. As such, I predict that the Milton Crossbody Clutch will probably be a hit with the female market, as it is beautiful in its own right. If I have a knock against the bags, it would be the price – if Gnome & Bow could knock S$20 off the sticker tag, the bags will be greater value propositions. As it stands, I would say that the prices are justified, but I wouldn’t exactly call their items bang-for-buck or steals. That being said, Gnome & Bow does offer monthly installments though Hoolah, whereby you can choose to pay in 4 monthly installments without interest!
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will let you enjoy 10% off all products from Gnome & Bow! If you’re interested, I would suggest acting fast. All of the bags reviewed above are only produced in limited quantities of 33 pieces worldwide – once it’s gone, it will never be produced again. Take the Strand briefcase I reviewed previously for example – that beauty sold out fast, and will no longer be sold, much to the chagrin of some. I really like the duality in the designs of Gnome & Bow’s Jekyll Hyde collection. I don’t think you will be able to find such inspired designs at this price point anywhere else!
View Gnome & Bow’s full range of products here.
Update: Gnome & Bow just opened their flagship outlet at Millennia Walk! Their store can be found at Millenia Walk, #01-78, Singapore 039596. And yes – you can still quote “WAHSOSHIOK” whilst there to enjoy 10% off store-wide!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!