Mitchell Leather Factory
 
The Finest Leather Goods, Made in the USA Since 1968
Frequently Asked Questions
BRIEFCASES:

What are your briefcases made from? 
We use cowhides of varying color, texture, weight and finish.  We have thousands of sides of leather in inventory and regularly purchase special leathers for briefcase exteriors.  Everything on our bag is made from leather with the exception of the hardware.  We make our own binding, handles, straps, key holders, etc...  The exterior of a case needs to be made from leather that is carefully selected for durability, weight and aesthetic quality.  

Where does your leather come from?  We have acquired leather from different tanneries around the world but most of our favorite briefcase leathers come from the Midwest.  Our premium briefcase leathers come from Horween tannery in Chicago.

How should I take care of my briefcase? That depends upon the leather.  Some leather needs to be oiled or conditioned periodically, while other leathers are impregnated with a lot of oil or have a waxy finish and don't need any special care at all.  "Naked" leathers, those without any finish, are more delicate and prone to being spotted or stained, while leathers with a finish will resist staining.  Your best bet is to ask us how to care for your particular briefcase. 

What if my briefcase breaks?  We will try to fix any Mitchell briefcase for free, for life, to the original owner if we can (if you run it over with your car or start it on fire, there isn't much we can do).  There are times where a problem just can't be fixed, but we have gone to great lengths to make our briefcase extremely durable.  Should you encounter a problem, just let us know and we'll do our best to take care of it. 

Why don't you use "easy access" closures instead of buckles on your Classic model briefcase?  I see many other briefcases that have these quicker closures hidden underneath a faux buckle.  We have tried literally every kind of closure known to man over the last 30 years.  For a while we offered our Classic case with combination locks and other heavy duty push-button closures.  Over time some of them would break because the entire weight of the bag is pulling on that mechanism when you carry it with the handle.  We eventually decided that the buckle is the only indestructible closure.  Some people think the buckles are too time consuming to open and close, and for those people we recommend our Messenger briefcase which uses magnets for quick and easy access (which we can safely do because there is no handle to lift the bag from).  My father would say, "why are you in such a hurry?"  But we also believe that once you know the proper way to open and close the buckles and you do it a few times, it becomes quick and easy too. 

Why doesn’t the Messenger bag have a handle?  Because the handle would pull open the magnets every time you lift the bag.  We designed the Messenger as an alternative to the Classic which has our patented handle and real buckles, but in exchange for quick access you lose the handle.  

Can you customize a briefcase for me?  Yes we can within the context of our available styles
(Classic, Compact Classic, Messenger, and Document). You can tell us what color and type of leather you want for the exterior, interior, binding and trim.  We can also customize certain aspects of the inside of the case; things like adding a pocket to fit your iPad or other special need.  Our designs have evolved over the years to be as durable and functional as possible, so they are what we make.  We don't typically do one-off designs because they would be extremely time consuming and cost prohibitive, not to mention unreliable and untested.  So we cannot modify the basic structure of any of our cases and do things like adding gussets or changing the height, width or depth.

I want a briefcase that looks perfect, no marks etc...  Well then leather is not what you're looking for, at least not full grain leather.  You might be better off getting a bag made from synthetic materials or corrected top grain leather (re-finished to cover the animal marks).  We use mostly natural full grain leather and yes, that means that you will see lines and scratches and other "imperfections" because the hide came from an animal.  We try to incorporate the "good" marks in artistic ways on the most visible areas of the bag and minimize the visibility of the imperfections.  Personally I prefer when a briefcase has more natural character visible on the front of the bag, but everyone is different.  We can always work with you to ensure that your briefcase reflects your taste. 

I just put a big scratch in my new briefcase.  What should I do?  That depends.  Some leather gets scratched very easily and other leather is much more resistant to scratches because of a heavy finish.  The bags that tend to scratch easily can sometimes have marks rubbed out or minimized, but these leathers tend to look great as they collect more marks and age.  It's kind of like a favorite old baseball glove or bomber jacket, they develop character.  The leathers that are intended to stay more pristine can sometimes have stain applied to minimize a scratch.  Each leather is unique.  Generally, a briefcase is meant to be used and will gather scars over the years, so try not to get too worried when a new mark appears. 

Do your briefcases hold a laptop or netbook computer?  Yes they do.  The basic dimensions of our three main cases are approximately 16.5 by 11 inches, which will accommodate most 16" (or 15.4) and smaller laptop computers.  We can also design your bag with a custom leather insert that acts as a divider and will separate the middle compartment to provide a snug fit for your computer. 

I would like to order one of your cases without a logo on the exterior.  Is that possible? Sorry but we do not offer any of our cases without a logo on the exterior, nor will we relocate the location of the logo to any other part of the bag.  You can however ask for our smallest minimalist wallet-sized logo on any case.  Our wallets, valet trays and other accessories are all available without a logo.  



Mitchell Innovations and Patents

My father, Jerry Mitchell, was obsessed with solving problems, especially when it came to the critical support areas of a briefcase.  There are two places where every briefcase is most likely to fail: 1) the two points at which the handle connects to the top of the bag and 2) the two strap holders which are stitched and/or riveted onto the side or back of the bag.  We address these two "problem" areas in ways that no one else has before or since.

First, is our patented Modular Handle with Integrated Frame.  Instead of attaching the handle to leather at two points as is commonly done with a stitched and riveted technique, our handle is screwed through a long steel plate that is sewn in between two layers of leather and stretches across the entire width of the top flap of the bag.  The purpose of this is to transfer the stress from two small points in the leather to the entire long steel plate.  Whatever weight is being carried by the handle, is spread evenly across the entire width of the steel plate.  In order to prevent the steel from hurting the leather by cutting through it over time, we make special leather "pouches" that are fitted around the ends of the plate to encapsulate the edges.  Also, because the handle is screwed through the steel bar and two layers of leather, if something were to go wrong with the handle, it can be replaced in a matter of minutes.

Second is our patented Resistance Pouch.  Unlike most bags where stitches and/or rivets have to carry the entire weight of the briefcase, ours has two pieces of Velcro stitched into a pouch that forms our strap holder.  When tension is applied to this pouch, the force is spread across the entire surface area which includes the Velcro.  By trapping the Velcro in place inside the pouch, much of the force is dissipated as the two opposing pieces of material (hook and loop) try to move in opposite directions but cannot. This technique has been so successful that customers who carry a lot of weight in their bag for many years actually wear through the solid brass hardware instead of the leather and the stitches!  When this happens we can quickly install new hardware at no charge.

Other things we do to make our Briefcases better...

We use four leather trimmed solid brass feet to protect the bottom of the bag from wear and provide a nice additional detail to the appearance of the case.

We stitch the entire bag twice.  First the bag is assembled and stitched to lock the structure in place.  Then binding is applied which provides a second layer of stitching and a finished and aesthetically more pleasing look than rough exposed edges.

We stain any and all visible leather edges on the inside, outside and strap of the bag.

We make our own straps, binding, handles, pockets, lining, etc... from scratch and use the same leathers that we use to make the rest of the briefcase. 

We make our own shoulder pad (improved as of 2009) that uses three layers of leather for maximum comfort when carrying a heavy load.

We do not rely on rivets alone (which have a tendency to eventually tear leather) in any of the critical stress points on our briefcases or straps.

We use double layered leather on our straps for exceptional durability (they are actually much tougher than the metal hardware) and have an elegant finished look.

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MONEY CLIP WALLETS

How many cards can your money clip wallet hold?  
Anywhere from as few as 4 (1 per slot) to as many as a maximum of about 10 to 12 cards.  I generally have about 8 to 10 cards in my wallet every day with 1 in each of the lower slots and 3 to 4 in each top slot.  See the video "Taking a Closer Look at the Money Clip Wallet" at the bottom of our video page.

How does your money clip wallet compare to other similar looking ones I've seen?  While it may look similar it's quite different.  Our hardware is specially sourced from North America and is far superior to the Chinese made versions that everyone else uses.  The spring clip has no moving parts and is custom made for us by a local manufacturer in Grafton Wisconsin.  We also take great pride in our leather and are as careful selecting hides for our wallets as we are with our briefcases.  The design has continuously evolved over decades and has benefited from constant improvements.  

Can I order the wallet without the logo?  Yes

Do they need to be conditioned?  Not really.  Most of the leathers we use are deeply impregnated with oils and waxes that will protect the leather for years.  Also, a wallet is not exposed to the elements like sun and rain the way shoes or briefcases are, so they can be left untreated in most cases.

Are there any differences other than the leather between more and less expensive models?  No, the design is identical.  

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BELTS:

Do you stock belts in any sizes?  No, we make each belt custom to order.

How are your belts constructed? They are made from 2 layers of carefully selected leather glued back to back and then re-cut to the final width of 1.25" (our standard) or 1.5" (optional wider belt).  We then stain the edges by hand and box stitch the belt to insure that it doesn't come apart the way inferior belts often do.  Our keepers are hand made with rolled edges and double stitched.  Finally we provide 7 holes spaced 3/4" apart for better fit.

I wear size 34 pants so can I just order a size 34 belt from you?  No, we ask that you measure according to the diagram on our Custom Men's Belt page for an accurate sized belt.  The problem is that there is no consistency for pants sizes nor belts purchased off the rack at stores.  Also, because we build each belt custom to order, we get as specific as 1/2" odd sizing such as 33.5".  

What can I customize on my belt order?  You can choose the main exterior leather, stitch color, and buckle hardware.

Can you make a belt for an old buckle that I would like to use?  Yes, provided that the buckle is sized at 1", 1.25", 1.5", 1.75", or 2".  These sizes correspond to what our strap cutter is capable of.  We cannot make belts to fit European buckles that fall between these measurements.



Mitchell Leather Factory
414-272-5942
dave.mitchell@ultrafi.com