It seems as you get more into menswear and dressing well, you begin to appreciate the nuances of clothing design, trends, colors — the whole nine yards. That translates, at least for me personally, into a greater interest in the deeper nuances of everyday life – things like home design, accessories, better-tasting coffee, a greater appreciation for craft beer and nice food … you get the picture. And so it makes sense that lots of sites – and individual companies, from Huckberry to Bespoke Post and beyond, are catering to guys who are interested in nuanced style and lifestyle upgrades all the way across the board – not just in menswear. That’s created a trickle-down effect, and an opportunity, for companies who appreciate and practice craftsmanship and quality, particularly in the smaller areas of life – like leather goods, for example.
Issara is one such company that’s emphasizing quality and nuanced design in its pieces, creating premium offerings that can offer a style upgrade to an area you might not think about. Exhibit A: your laptop sleeve. I myself used a freebie I got back in college for the longest time – but when founder Rosh Govindaraj approached me last year about learning more about her brand and reviewing a sleeve, I began to think about the idea of larger upgrades as a whole, from a laptop sleeve to a nice leather bag to small home goods from the likes of Owen & Fred and beyond.
And Issara’s story is an attention-grabbing one, too – the brand’s name means “freedom” in Thai, and its roots stem from Govindaraj’s love of travel – and her search for well-made leather bag that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. So the brand was born, and its focus on working with two small workshops to produce its leather goods – including beautiful leather bags and minimal wallets – echoes the commitment to craftsmanship that so many are taking an interest in nowadays. The company’s emphasis on social responsibility and improving the lives of its workers is again a welcome change from headlines you tend to see across the fashion industry.
With all that being said, I can say that after taking the company’s Navy Laptop Sleeve across the globe and packed in my trusty Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag for daily work commutes, I’d recommend you look into making a similar upgrade yourself (budget permitting, of course).
Again, we’re not talking about something you can readily see, like a sturdy pair of everyday boots or tough chinos – but in the same way that those items can be used time and again, a dependable laptop sleeve can go with you everywhere, every day. Issara’s version in particular, while pricey at $129, is an investment that lives up to the price – and size options allow you to hold something as small as an 11” laptop or as large as a 15” laptop (like the sleeve hown here). Note that if you’re looking for something a bit different, Saddleback Leather also has a selection of tech sleeves. The navy color of this Issara piece is a nice neutral that stands out in a sea of plain black laptop sleeves (it also comes in a beautiful shade of Cognac). If you believe (like your humble author) that style is in the details as much as the overall product, then here’s a nice example.
It’s lined in slate grey twill, so that’s a neat touch with a bit of #menswear roots. The option to have your sleeve monogrammed for $10 extra is a customization that again can set you apart from the masses in a good way. The sleeve is sleek and stylish – it’s not often at all that you can say that about a laptop sleeve. While the price might seem a lot compared to the lower-budget options available, the protection and the thickness of the sleeve is solid, the Japanese zipper (with a leather pull) has proved sturdy, and the interior side pocket is just large enough to carry a 5” x 8” Public Supply notebook and a few pens.
This Navy Laptop Sleeve will definitely look handsome alongside everything from a standard leather briefcase to a durable satchel, and mine personally has stood up to being lugged around through airports and the subway just fine. The great thing about the sleeve itself is that it has more than enough room for a folder or two within, plus your laptop. And, as seems to be the case with people looking for more minimalism in their lives, you could feasibly carry the sleeve sans bag without it clashing at all alongside an #OOTD ensemble.
Ponying up that amount of money up front for a laptop sleeve might not be achievable at the moment for everyone, but like those dependable winter boots or a warm topcoat, it’ll feel great to use it as often as possible. And when the color and styling of a laptop sleeve falls in line with the sort of style you’re looking for in the rest of your outfit, that can only be considered a positive.
Would you consider making this style upgrade? Or will you stick to what you’ve got in your bag right now?