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更新时间:2014-3-10 13:13:08 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Making the Case for the Briefcase

BRIEFCASES ARE SERIOUS. Always have been. It's hard to imagine the daily nuclear launch codes, which traditionally have accompanied the POTUS in a briefcase, being shoved into a messenger bag. The idea of Don Draper carrying a gym bag into Sterling Cooper & Partners is downright incongruous. Even the noise a briefcase makes is serious business; that distinctive 'tchunk' (halfway between a click and a 'thunk') of the latches springing open conjures memories of a father, home from the office, extracting vital professional documents.

But the briefcase also has a dusty rep, perhaps because of the paternal association. That's likely what's prompted menswear labels to start offering all manner of alternatives, from handsome leather portfolios in a variety of sizes to sportier messenger and gym bags and even backpacks. Now a nascent pro-attaché movement is afoot, with young designers discovering the briefcase and older labels returning to it. And why not? Choosing the right hold-all accessory is as important as selecting the right suit, shirt, watch and shoes.

'Should a man wearing a suit carry a proper, equivalently formal, ergo, style-appropriate, briefcase?' said Alan Flusser, a custom tailor and author of 'Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion.' 'If he's interested in projecting an in-command, finished look, I would opt for 'yes.' ' Thirty-six-year-old Cliff Moskowitz, who owns a private-equity firm in New York, put it more directly: 'If a guy has a gym bag, I assume he's going to the gym. If he has a backpack, I assume he doesn't care.'

Some menswear experts will argue, however, that what matters is simply whether you carry a leather bag--briefcase or not. Still, you can't ignore the energy that these new accessories designers are investing in the briefcase's resuscitation. 'We consider it the quintessential item for any man on the go,' said Dexter Peart, 41, one of the twin brothers behind Want Les Essentiels de La Vie, a Montreal-based men's leather goods brand. Les Essentiels' inaugural 2007 collection introduced the soft, zippered Trudeau case, now a brand staple. This popular bag marries the classic and the contemporary, with modern elements like a detachable strap and a quick-access pocket on the exterior of the bag 'for your Metrocard, business card, gym card--the things people are using in real, everyday life,' said Mr. Peart.

Some of these new briefcase makers are zeroing in on precision functionality to transcend the bag's sepia-toned origins. British label Troubadour Goods, for instance, polishes each zipper tooth on its stealthy-looking $1,620 black leather briefcase to ensure that men can open and close their cases with nary a snag. The handles and shoulder strap are reinforced with steel rivets (leather-covered, of course) where they attach to the bag.

Accessories label Passavant and Lee--founded this year by former models Jon Passavant, 35, and Benj Lee, 31--covers its case's card slots with a special-grade aluminum to protect credit cards with RFID chips, which transmit data wirelessly, from identity thieves. The duo's sleek leather-and-metal briefcase--its design inspired by midcentury aircraft--is also lined with a high-density foam to cushion electronics. 'The briefcase market was underserved,' said Mr. Passavant of the decision to launch the brand. 'People were forced into the classic leather attaché-type case. We wanted to re-master the form.' To this end, they narrowed the case's width, rounded its edges and added slip-in interior pockets that can house an iPad and smartphone, as well as pockets sized for a pen--ink or stylus--and small zip pockets for change or flash drives.

'Men's apparel has gotten slimmer, so we're seeing slimmer briefcases, but also there is less paperwork to carry,' said Eric Jennings, Saks Fifth Avenue's vice president and men's fashion director. 'What's important is internal pockets--for phones, keys, mobile tablets. When we look at bags now we're looking at the inside as much, or if not more than the outside.'

For some men, however, the most important detail on contemporary briefcases may be the shoulder strap. While a strap can undeniably ruin the line of a perfect suit shoulder, and nudge a respectable briefcase into messenger bag territory, every busy person can speak to the importance of having hands free to carry a coffee or thrust a passport into the hands of a waiting official.

Traditional luxury brands like Hermès and Louis Vuitton have acclimatized. Half of Louis Vuitton's 'Business Bags' feature shoulder straps, while Hermès--whose Sac à Depeche may be the quintessential soft-leather briefcase--offers 'document holders' with straps.

'We trust that a lot of men do, and will continue to carry elegant and functional objects like the briefcase,' said Laurent Dordet, Hermès's CEO of leather goods and saddlery. 'Nevertheless, other creations of the house will keep on responding to new uses and functionalities of today and tomorrow: crossover straps, bags for hands-free use, et cetera.'

Meanwhile, Delvaux--a Belgian leather goods company that dates to 1829, and plans to relaunch its men's division soon--will offer no straps or specialized pockets on its calf-skin Presse cases that range from $4,750 to nearly $14,000. 'The Delvaux gentleman is the kind of man who only has a pressed white shirt in his briefcase and a major contract about to be signed,' said Christina Zeller, the brand's product and image director. 'All electronic devices, chargers or tablets travel separately with his deputy assistant.'

Tradition has its place on this side of the Atlantic as well. One of America's oldest leather brands, Mark Cross, founded in 1845, was revived in 2011 by financier Neal Fox. Working with the same factory the Cross family used 40 years ago, Mr. Fox is launching four versions of its briefcase, including one that's hard and rectangular with a short handle; the others are softer with slightly rounded edges and detachable shoulder straps. 'Men's briefcases today have a tendency to be soft so they can function as a weekender,' said Mr. Fox. 'But with what's happened in fashion, and the 'Mad Men' sensibility, young people seem to be reaching out for classic [hard] briefcases.'

The older generation doesn't need a fictional TV character, however dapper, to convince them of the briefcase's charms. For them, the aesthetic and practical appeal has never been in question. Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter, 64, has carried an oversize, hard-edged briefcase for many years. 'I need to cart a lot of manuscripts and papers home at the end of each day. Then I lug them, all marked up, back to the office in the morning,' he said. 'A small bag wouldn't do. And a messenger bag is just too hipsterish for me.'

Sales of classic box cases are on the rise at Brooks Brothers. The retailer reported the most growth in its higher-priced luxury briefcases. Still, the brand's customer, said Brooks Brothers' director of men's design Glen Hoffs, is looking at smaller shapes, as well as nontraditional colors. 'We have a navy blue coming in and some burnished leather,' said Mr. Hoffs. 'Those kinds of things are definitely appealing to a more sophisticated customer.'

But of course, there's sophistication and then there's sophistication. By one estimation, a man's ultimate goal might be to become so successful that the issue of briefcases versus backpacks versus portfolios becomes entirely moot. 'In many high-flying business corridors,' said Mr. Flusser, 'carrying nothing connotes the most power.'

公文包给人一本正经的印象,而且一直如此。很难想象,放在不离美国总统左右的公文箱里的核武器发射密码,如果被塞进一个邮差包中会是什么样子。想想唐德雷珀(Don Draper)提着一个运动包走进Sterling Cooper & Partners就觉得完全不相称。公文包发出的声响也是庄重正式的,其锁扣在弹开时会发出别具一格的“咔嚓”声(介于咔哒声与“梆”之间),令人回想起一位父亲下班后回到家,打开公文包抽出重要专业文件的情景。


《男士着装:掌握经典时尚之道》(Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion)作者、定制服装制作商艾伦·弗卢塞尔(Alan Flusser)说:“身着西服的男士应当提着一个得体、正式、风格相符的公文包吗?如果他有意打造一种大局在握又精致完美的形象,我的答案是肯定的。”今年36岁的克利夫·莫斯科维茨(Cliff Moskowitz)是纽约一家私募股权公司的所有人,他的回答则更为直接。他说:“如果一个男人提着运动包,我会以为他要去健身房。如果他背着双肩包,那我会认为他对形象无所谓。”

然而,有些男装行家会说,重要的只是你是否提着一个真皮包,至于它是不是公文包倒无所谓。尽管如此,你还是不能忽视这些新配饰设计师为公文包的复兴而投入的精力。德克斯特·皮尔特(Dexter Peart)是创建蒙特利尔男士皮革制品品牌Want Les Essentiels de La Vie的双胞胎兄弟之一,他说:“我们认为它是所有活跃男士都要配备的经典单品。”Les Essentiels在2007年发布的开创性皮具系列包含质感柔软的Trudeau拉链公文包,现在它已是该品牌的主打。皮尔特称,这款热卖公文包集经典与现代于一身,融合了可拆卸肩带等现代元素,并在包袋的外部设计了一个快取袋,“用来存放交通卡、名片和健身卡等这些大家在实际的日常生活中要用到的东西”。

有些新公文包厂商将主要的注意力放在了精确的功能性上,超过了对其原型深褐色外观的关注。例如,英国品牌Troubadour Goods推出了一款外观不事张扬、售价为1,620美元的黑色真皮公文包,它打磨了拉链的每一个链齿以确保使用者能顺畅无阻地打开及合上他们的包。该款包的手柄及肩带与包相接的地方都采用了钢质铆钉(当然都以真皮包裹)加固。

Passavant and Lee是由35岁的乔恩·帕萨万特(Jon Passavant)和31岁的班奇·李(Benj Lee)在今年创立的配饰品牌,他们二人以前均为模特。该品牌以特殊级的铝遮住公文包的卡袋,以防止内置可无线传输数据的无线射频识别(RFID)芯片的信用卡身份信息失窃。他们受到上世纪中叶工艺启发,设计出时尚的皮革与金属材质公文包,嵌有高密度海绵以给电子产品提供缓冲。帕萨万特在谈及该品牌的创立时说:“公文包市场的需求得不到满足,大家不得已选择那种经典皮质公文包式样的包。我们想重新塑造它的样式。”为了实现这个目的,他们缩窄了公文包的宽度,采用圆边设计并新增了可收纳iPad和智能手机的滑入式内袋、大小适合放水笔或手写笔的笔袋,以及用于存放零钱或闪存盘的小拉链袋。

萨克斯第五大道百货(Saks Fifth Avenue)副总裁、男装总监埃里克·詹宁斯(Eric Jennings)说:“男士服装变得更修身了,所以我们看到公文包也变小了,还有个原因就是要携带的文件更少了。重要的东西是内袋——用来放手机、钥匙和平板电脑的。现在我们挑选公文包时,对内部空间看重的程度即使没有超过对外观的重视,起码也是同等看重。”


爱马仕(Hermes)和路易威登(Louis Vuitton)等传统奢侈品牌也应时而变。路易威登的半数“公文包”都配有肩带,爱马仕——其公文包或许是软革公文包的典范——也推出了配肩带的“文件包”。

爱马仕皮具及鞍具业务首席执行长洛朗·多尔代(Laurent Dordet)称:“我们相信有很多男士会而且继续会携带诸如公文包这样雅致又实用的物件。此外,我们品牌的其他产品也会继续针对现在与未来的新用途和新功能——如挎包和无需手提的包——做出反应。”

与此同时,始建于1829年、计划马上重新发布其男装系列的比利时皮具企业Delvaux却有所不同。其Presse小牛皮公文包的售价在4,750美元至近14,000美元,它将不设肩带或专门用途的袋子。该公司产品及品牌形象总监克里斯蒂娜 ·泽勒(Christina Zeller)说:“用Delvaux的绅士是那种包里只放一件熨好的白衬衫和一份即将签署的重要合同的男士。所有电子设备、充电器或平板电脑都由他的助手携带。”

在大西洋的另一边,传统也占据了一席之地。2011年,美国最古老的皮具品牌之一、创建于1845年的Mark Cross借助金融家尼尔·福克斯(Neal Fox)之力东山再起。福克斯仍与克罗斯(Cross)家族40年前委托的同一个厂家合作,推出了四款公文包,其中一款是质感较硬的短手柄长形公文包,其他的则是质感较软、配备活动肩带的圆边款。福克斯说:“男士公文包现在趋向于柔软质地,以便能在周末度假使用,但是由于时尚界的趋势以及《广告狂人》(Mad Men)的影响,年轻人似乎开始想要经典款的(硬质)公文包。”

老一辈的人则无需虚构的电视剧角色——无论他有多么风度翩翩——来让他们相信公文包的魅力。他们从来没有质疑过公文包在美观和实用性方面的吸引力。《名利场》(Vanity Fair)的主编、今年64岁的格雷顿·卡特(Graydon Carter)多年来就使用一款超大号的硬边公文包。他说:“我需要在每天工作结束后带大量手稿和文件回家,然后第二天一早带上全都做上了标记的这些东西回到办公室。小包就不行,而邮差包对我来说太过新奇了。”

在Brooks Brothers,经典款箱式公文包的销量处于上升之势。该零售商价格较高的豪华公文包的销售实现了最高增幅。Brooks Brothers的男装总监格伦·霍夫斯(Glen Hoffs)称,该品牌的客户也在寻觅更小的款型以及有别传统的色彩。他说:“我们将要推出海军蓝及打蜡皮质地的公文包,这些类型的包肯定能吸引更成熟的顾客。”