If you don’t know me personally, here’s a snapshot of the pertinent bits. For the purposes of this article, I might describe myself as an endearingly mischievous – yet committed – contrarian. A passionate, lifelong loather of doing anything just because an “authority figure” tells me to. The relevant takeaway here is, if someone tells me to zig, I’m gonna zag. HARD. I don’t even march to a drum – more like a Casio Keytar. At least that’s the bad-ass way I saw myself when I looked in my bathroom mirror – until one day, not too long ago. On this day, I found myself about to click “BUY” on a “CART” containing a very expensive, loudly labeled and suspiciously lemming-like fanny pack.
The room started spinning. All hell broke loose. I had to take a long and potentially identity crushing look at myself – more specifically, at my clothing and accessories. The elegant elephant in the room was that my scrupulously thought out ensembles were making me nothing more than a pro-bono spokesmodel for a motley cru of designers who couldn’t care less about me or my poor Ramen eating children. Where the hell was Linda Evangelista when I needed her to explain the basic financial prerequisites for getting out of bed?!?? Hello!?!! Not even one of the cru was cutting this chic a check!
For this reason – I have put in a new, written in Sharpie, Susan Powter approved personal policy. I will exclusively invest in the kind of quality that needs no label. My excitement to put my money where my mouth is, led me to a man… a man in Massachusetts. His name is Frank Clegg. Heard of him? I know, me neither.
“Making the finest leather goods is a complex and labor-intensive process. When it comes down to it, a leather bag is only as good as the materials and craftsmanship that go into it. A label is for marketing, but when you pick up a world-class briefcase, tote, dufflebag, or handbag, you can instantly feel what makes it different from anything else.” F.C.
No Labels? When I read Mr. Clegg’s provocative policy on the Frank Clegg Leatherworks website, I was intrigued. A sartorial secret society? It seems this man was putting “the handshake” in the handbag business. Now that was bad ass. I immediately ordered the FCL Signature Working Tote in black. Crafted from the luxury leather world’s most sought French Bull hides and as omni-perfect as L.L. Bean’s old faithful Boat and Tote, this bag felt as close to the accessory industry’s version of an inside baseball home run as this Mets Fan was ever going to get. Could I trust this man?
I am very happy to report that the day my Signature Working Tote arrived, was my last as an unpaid haute-ho. As functional as it is flawless, this oversized tote (don’t worry, he sells smaller incarnations that are equally fab) is the type of bag that actually gets better looking with the patina of daily life. The most significant and excitingly enigmatic check firmly planted in this renaissance reticule’s plus column, is that the SWT’s unbranded beauty means I now walk into a room and define myself before my bag’s designer does.
If I ever meet Mr. Clegg, I will thank him. Along with a kick-ass handbag, he has gifted me with a real life illustration of the ancient battlefield strategy of Emptiness and Fullness. If Sun Tzu were alive today and needed a fabulous briefcase or tote bag, I have no doubt he would go directly to Frank Clegg and be just as thrilled with his purchase as I am.