Literally months and months in the making, our collaboration with Superior Labor has finally arrived! I’ve been hinting at it on Instagram, mostly because I just couldn’t keep it in any longer.
Exclusively available here at our shop is our newest leather offering from The Superior Labor in Japan: two leather portfolios, in A5 and A4. They’re also available in the shop to take a look at in person.
We sent photos and illustrations and emails and descriptions and prototypes back and forth across oceans, and after another few months of production time, and an almost unbearable coincidence with Japan’s Golden Week, where most operations are shut down for almost a week there, the portfolios are finally here!
How this all started is that, for literally years, I’ve been looking for the right sort of leather case/portfolio/flat document holder to carry my laptop in and full sized papers in. I came across ones that were a bit too modern looking or old-fashioned, or had single button closures and flaps that I worried would get caught and folded back or curl up over time or in different weather, or that were too bulky or too thin, or had too many or two few pockets.
Because a lot of our paper is A4 rather than letter (8.5 x 11), some of my choices were limited just by size preference, but I was looking for something I could have for years – timeless and classic and beautiful, while also being of extremely high quality – so I was willing to bide my time until just the right one came along.
And then out of the blue, Superior Labor said in passing that if we ever had any ideas on something we wanted to collaborate on with them, we should just let them know and start a discussion. Oh, the stars aligning!
As with everything made by Superior Labor, the Japanese workmanship is truly excellent: the zipper is extremely sturdy, and the stitching is precise and strong. I love the little details, like the extra leather stopper at the edge of the zipper, and the leather pulls on the zippers themselves.
Both the A5 and A4 portfolio have an inner pocket to hold loose papers, envelopes, tickets, etc.
The A4 case is the perfect size to hold a 13″ MacBook Pro, and I’ve been using it to bring my laptop back and forth to the cottage and on work adventures. The size is great because in addition to my laptop I can tuck in loose order sheets or a catalogue, whatever I’m working on at the time, along with a few pens and paper to take notes as needed.
I wish I had had this when I was teaching, because this would be perfect for a few class sets of tests or essays to bring out with me. Alas, my marking days seem to be over, unless I start Caleb in on some Hooked on Phonics.
I have been using the A5 case to hold a journal and a few letters or papers when I head out to cafes, as well as a pen or pencil in the front pocket.
Either one of these of these are great to just tuck under my arm if I’m heading out just to a cafe, along with a book to read. Especially if I’m just heading to a cafe for an hour or two, rather than packing up a bag with lots of supplies and snacks and things, I can just take what I need in my hand.
If I’m going to write letters, I can pack up an A5 pad, a few envelopes, my address book, the letters I’m responding to, and a booklet of stamps. I’ll generally try to make sure I have a pen to write the letter with along with a pen that has permanent ink to address the envelope.
Over the last few weeks as we’ve been heading back and forth to the cottage, I’ve been using it to keep my correspondence organized so no matter where I am I have a few letters I can respond to. I’ve been trying to select my oldest letters so I can make sure to get those replied to first, and also both letters that I know will be quick and easy, and letters that I’ll take my time getting into.
Both of these portfolios have also been convenient for me to keep things organized when I’m moving around and bringing lots of stuff with me.
They’re meant to hold their respective sizes, so the A5 portfolio is actually slightly larger to hold A5 sized notebooks, such as the Rhodia Webnotebook, Leuchtturm A5 notebooks, with room to spare for a little extra.
Right now it’s only available in the light brown leather, the same colour as the pen roll. We can take special orders for our next batch in specific colours (you can see all of the leather colours available in their pen rolls here), and if there’s enough demand, we may consider carrying other colours in regular stock.
If you’re international, feel free to send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org for a shipping quote to your address.
Of course with the nature of leather, each one may have ever so slightly different textures or markings, but I have found the leather Superior Labor sources to be very smooth and even. I can’t wait to see how these will wear in with time.
What I love about this portfolio case, though, is that it’s a collaboration with another small company and workshop, a family business a bit like ours. I love that the things we carry in our shop are things we love and that have a story to them, with real people.
I love that I know that the design of these was so highly thought out to the tiniest detail – the placement of the inner and outer pockets, the colour of the cloth around the zipper, the logo in the corner – and that these portfolios have been stitched and constructed with integrity. There’s nothing surplus or decorative to these cases, just enough for what’s needed. The craftsmanship and workmanship of Superior Labor has always been incredible, and to have this collaboration in our shop is truly something special for us.
That our shop continues to build relationships with and support other small businesses and studios from across the world is so important to us, and this, by far, is one of my favourite things we’ve ever brought into the shop.