When humans first began gathering into early manifestations of civilization, pouches made of animal hide were essential in helping us carry useful items: a few spare arrowheads, a bit of dried food, a drill, a scraper, a small amulet.
That impulse, of course, has not left us.
Enter the venerable handbag. Those of us not among the fairer sex can be forgiven for assuming pockets would do the job of holding everything a woman needs. But women’s clothing is notoriously bereft of usable pockets.
As I’ve indicated before, my wife generally eschews purses. When we go out, particularly for a nice cocktail or to go dancing, she relies on me to Sherpa her lipstick and ID. Anything else, on such an outing, she finds generally superfluous.
But there are times, either for form or for function, that she carries a purse.
And with her current purse, an inexpensive hand me down, nearing the end of its useful life, she wanted a handbag from the upper echelon of craftsmanship, something that would last her well into her emeritus years.
For a fleeting moment, we considered J.W. Hulme. But when we discovered that it had begun outsourcing a good deal of its production, we demurred.
A cursory internet search brought Frank Clegg into our orbit. Frank Clegg has been around since 1970, making many varieties of leather goods in its Fall River, Mass. workshop. I could summarize the company’s history myself, but I think it does an admirable and charming job itself:
“In 1970, Frank Clegg … had been given a set of leather tools from his girlfriend as a Christmas gift. In time, his girlfriend became his wife, and the toolset became the seed for a brand that has set the benchmark for fine leather bags and accessories for over 40 years. A generation later, Frank Clegg with his two sons, Andrew and Ian, have continued the legacy of what is now known as Frank Clegg Leatherworks. From a restored mill built in historic Fall River, Massachusetts, they and their team of specialized artisans handcraft the finest leather goods in America. “
And that last line is no idle boast. I should note that the ladies at the PurseForum have a particular fondness for Clegg’s handbags–one even calling them “the closest thing to nirvana”–noting that they represent a value far in excess of their price range.
My wife picked the Lilly Shoulder Bag in cognac. After we placed the order, it took about four weeks for Clegg to make the handbag and send it our way.
Its dimensions are fairly modest–given the paucity of items my wife carries, a perfect size. And the construction and materials are absolutely first rate. It’s now her primary handbag, and for good reason.