[FASHION PHILOSOPHY RANT WARNING]
It’s strange how what you wear can alter your mood and even how people treat you. It’s an extension of you. Maybe more than that, it’s your front cover.
You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but everybody does. It’s one of the ways we organise the world. It’s not possible to read every book, so we scan the covers on the shelf to find the ones that may be of interest to us in order to whittle them down.
Whether you like it or not, you are judged every day by people you do – and do not – know simply by your appearance. Until somebody speaks to you, it’s pretty much the only thing they can judge you by.
Therefore everything we wear is a reflection of self. Even if you don’t care about fashion and just throw on what’s to hand every morning – that in itself is making a statement. I, myself, don’t follow fashion closely, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about how I look. Vanity is a much-maligned aspect of humanity.
What’s happened to me? Right…
Hill & Ellis sent me a bag. A very dapper bag. If it wasn’t for its pannier clips hidden behind black leather padding on the hip side, it wouldn’t look like anything like a ‘bike bag’ – which is what The Discerning Cyclist frickin’ loves.
‘The Bertie’, Hill & Ellis describes, “is an English Gent, in bike bag form”. They’re not kidding either.
Bold in design and colour, The Bertie is a bright “postbox” red leather (although other colours are available under different names) satchel than can be carried by hand, over the shoulder or as a pannier.
It’s big enough to handle a 15 inch laptop with ease, measures in at 38x28x10cm and boasts a front pocket for any extra bits and bobs. You also get a waterproof reflective rain cover for the bleaker days, which is very easy to fit. The shoulder strap is removable, however it could do with some padding to prevent it digging in when carrying heavier loads, while the black leather strap buckles keep everything in place.
In terms of functionality, this bag is superb. The build quality is unquestionable (made in the UK to boot) and the pannier clips are outstanding. This satchel pops on and off the bike in seconds thanks to their spring loaded clips which are suitable for pannier racks from 6-16mm. The hooks also come with a two-year guarantee.
Undoubtedly, this bag oozes quality. But what was I on about earlier with that drivel about “your style is your book cover”? Well, it pains me to admit it, but having grown up in a ‘working-class environment in Merseyside’ (I know, I feel queasy just saying that), I did feel a little self-conscious carrying this bag around – it boasts a degree of pompousness. Maybe if I was involved with the arts, living it up in Shoreditch and nursing a latte, it would have suited me down to the ground. Maybe I’m just being a stereotypical pig. Or, maybe, I should be more comfortable in my own skin.
This bag tore me. I loved the style, but loathed my own insecurities which it exposed. You probably need broader shoulders than mine to pull off this bag.
At £190, there’s no kidding this bag isn’t cheap. But what you get is a British-built, real leather, environmentally-friendly, stylish satchel that should last you for years – if you’re cooler than me anyway.