Review of Luxury: The Barbershop “Pageboy” Bag

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. “ – Matsuo Basho, the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan.

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I can say that much of bags and shoes.  They are not the end but the means for a journey in which they enable the owner, the traveler.

By bags,  I am not talking about those you buy to use for a few times and then set aside for lack of lasting appeal.  Nor that which exists merely for keeping gear safe or worse faddish startup collaborations you regret the moment it got kickstarted.

What we are talking about are bags we buy to keep, to use and use again. And when not in use, we relish in their materiality and design. They command higher resale demand too.

Where beauty and function evolve to become value.

Many folks with good and even exotic tastes have imperious collections of bags, shoes, watches and other venerable fashion items.  However, there is something definitely missing in collecting fashion items when they are justified by price, complexity, maker’s reputation and rarity.  They lack decided function where tangible value is defined by.

Then comes the Camera Bag

As a photographer, I am of course in the journey of “beauty and function”.  The longer I am enmeshed with photographic gear, the clearer the camera bag becomes a specialist genre I am attracted to for both work and pleasure.  I now carry a photo bag as an Every Day Carry.

In all, I would classify photo bags into broadly two types; the functional and the fashionably functional bags.  In this review I would be writing about the latter.

If your intention is to just move cameras alone, a backpack or any bag with some protective foams/dividers would suffice.  Here I am referring to bags by specialist camera bag makers whose products are made to last with deep appeal. They must work exceptionally and look appropriate in the studio as well as in red carpet occasions (eg. when you are guest of a formal event carrying camera and personal stuffs).  Ideally backed by a long warranty for premium confidence.

There were only a handful of such capable companies.  Most have been family owned, rightly so, and some small startups.  Quite a few have now gone (or are going) with early success in funding but fizzled out without a vision.  These are usually collaborations between media personalities and general bag makers.  But still quite a few makers have made a name for themselves quickly.

The Barbershop

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I first came across Barbershop two years back on the internet and have been watching their progress.  Recently I bought one of their popular bag called the Pageboy and delivered to me in Singapore from Italy.  All within 4 days.

The Pageboy is an all 100% grained leather with a cotton webbing and matching shoulder pad.  This is to house my smaller cameras and personal items.  I wanted a slim leather and light carrier which will go well with formal outfits.

First Impressions of the Pageboy 

I am used to carrying European fashion bags but for camera gear, my favorite has been UK-made canvas and leather bags from Billingham.  My expectation is appropriately high.

The Pageboy doesn’t disappoint from the outset. The fine details of packaging is of Italian standard. It comes in a dark brown cotton sack, filled with well-printed literature of the brand and product information.

(Spoiler alert) I was given this personalized leather tag with the initials “EDC” printed in gold. The printing could be much better as the letters were slanted with ink smearing (different from the “Barbershop” embossing you see above).  Apart from this sore point which diminishes the overall presentation, on close inspection, the bag exudes above average feel.

Well, for those fashionistas reading this, it is not quite your  Gucci, LV or Montblanc, which cost much more for sure.  But it certainly is at a higher level than comparable Coach, Tumi or Michael Kors. As for leather camera bags, there is only one other German company I know that competes at a higher level in design and price.

More importantly, I believe the look of the Pageboy will suit both men and women equally well.  You can carry this in your tux or evening gown with confidence. This can also be your ideal work and pleasure bag for daily essentials no matter what you may be wearing.  Smooth grained leather indeed has this advantage over canvas over time.

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Functionality 

The interior is organized with dense dividers using velcro fitting well within a removable insert (which converts it into a general purpose bag).

The leather shell is padded with a personalized Barbershop lining. The grey colored nylon divider and bottom suits me very well.  I will overlook any bag with a black hole inside.  Black interior makes it impossibly difficult to locate dark colored items such as gadgets, lens cap and other pouches.  Why designers can’t imagine this is surely a puzzle of life.

The outside back has a slot as pictured above.  You can use this for small items like a passport, mobile phone, filters or for ladies, cosmetics.

The front has no pocket.  The top lid is dependent on a single metal button to close. Now I don’t fancy the idea of depending on this one little button.  I hope it lasts and stays strong.  I would monitor the usability of this unique but questionable closing form.  I also wish that Barbershop would send an extra button or have a warranty in place for confidence of more than two years.  If it lasts, then well and good.

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Usability

The leather bag is one of the lightest if not the lightest of similar bags. This is a great plus point because many companies have failed in this one regard. This include many popular brands that sell at premium prices and widely reviewed but seldom critiqued. How many of you have ditched your leather bags because weight?

If you are looking for a premium, modern leather and desirable everyday carry, the Pageboy is an obvious choice to get. It is very well made and the finishes is possibly among the bests in the industry.

Why other companies can’t resolve the leather weight issue like Barbershop will remain a mystery to many. This hallmark criteria alone will make or kill any leather bag regardless of brands.

Carrying this bag to any event will be a breeze and joy to use.  I dont think you will use this in rough weather or the outback. Doing so will be like wearing a tux to mountain hike.  There is a point for everything.

Yes, it is a tux or evening gown in the world of camera bags.

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Summary

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Pros

Great quality in material and workmanship

Designed to function and dress well as a camera and every day carry

Best in class weight control

Nice finishes in packaging

Suitable for both men and women in formal settings

Cons

Single Button point of failure

Two years only warranty for a premium bag (5 yrs or 10 yrs is my expectation for metal parts)

Short webbing for tall folks

To buy, head over to www.barbershopbags.com 

Head over to my instagram account for contemporary pictures here.

All pictures in post are taken by me with the Nikon D810.

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