When I first told you about the Cambridge Satchel Company’s olde school satchels, I was already smitten. I was going to get one, but I didn’t place an order immediately as I was wont to, because I couldn’t decide on the size. Lame excuse huh?
And then, Kahani got hers in 14″ Black and bag partner in crime LeGeeque got hers in 13″ brown and BOTH of them swore theirs was the perfect size. Alamak! What do I do?! So, I waited a bit more and at the earliest opportunity, met up with Kahani to paw at hers – also ostensibly to check it out. I was very happy with what I saw and as a personal reward for going 4 days with little sleep and no weekends, I placed an order for my very own satchel a little over 2 months ago.
Communication with the people at Cambridge Satchel Company is wonderful. I had my emails sent in the evening (Malaysian time) answered within an hour of sending (I even got a reply within 5 minutes once!). I wrote in to enquire about shipping and their availability of colour and size. That’s because I was impatient. If I was patient and picky about colour, I’d order the colour and size I wanted and wait – it can take up to a month before your order is shipped though since they have to make it first.
In my case, I was told that the 13″ Red Satchel was in stock so that was perfect for me! My order shipped within a week by FedEx and I tracked my package every step of its way to me. It took 2 days. Just 2 freaking days from London to Malaysia! How cool is that?! In the process, my bag visited Paris and Guangzhou before landing in my hands.
Now before I go into detail, let me show how it looks when it arrives.
Just like in the Sound of Music, “brown paper packages tied up with string” are one of my favourite things. The satchel comes wrapped in white tissue paper and then wrapped again with brown parcel paper and tied with parcel string. It fits just nicely into the FedEx box it comes in! If you want, you can personalize the message on the tag for free. Otherwise you get the regulation issue of “Best Wishes” which suited me fine.
Next thing – strong smell of leather. Takes some getting used to so do be warned. Air it for a spell and it’ll all be lovely. But the colour! Its a beautiful deep red full leather satchel that is impressively light. The leather is thick yet smooth on the outside and the bag is structured but not hard. Its not as stiff as I expected which is great and by now, 2 months later, it has softened a little, but still retains its shape well. I got caught in the rain not long after I got my bag, but the rain just rolled off the exterior of the bag.
Now the buckles. This was part of the reason I fell in love with this satchel. These are old school buckles that actually buckle on. Not a faux buckle with a magnet attached. I do not mind any hassle because I’d been wanting a bag with buckles that actually worked! Now I have it 😀 If you don’t like the hassle, don’t get this.
The bag is unlined – that’s not to say the inside is raw leather. Its finished so it feels smooth but there is no extra cloth lining. One less thing to wear out so you can be assured this satchel will stand the test of time. However, the red can stain a little. The edges of my white wallet have taken on a slight reddish tint. The strap sometimes rubs off some red bits (not quite stains) so I have to be a little careful with light coloured clothing. So far, no stains.
As for storage, all you get is one large main compartment and one large pocket. My Roo-Carriage fits in there actually if I want organization. But I don’t use it because my wallet can’t fit otherwise. If you use a small wallet, it’ll fit perfectly. In my case, I cut down the amount of rubbish I carry daily, and its all good!
I’ve been using it for well over 2 months now. I prefer carrying it on my shoulder instead of slinging it cross body (although I sometimes do) and I have it on the shortest length which is still pretty long – hits against my hip.
I love how edgy and different it looks and how it adds that splotch of colour to dull corporate outfits. Yes, I don’t mind being different – had enough of hand totes and hobos that every other woman is carrying for a while. On weekends, pair it with jeans or a shirt or shorts and go. Love it! Did I say that already? Oops. Here it is again.
I love it! 😀
My satchel is 13″ and according to the website, dimensions are 13″ x 10.5″ x 3″. It comes in lots of colours (might I suggest red? 😉 ) and it cost £70. Shipping to Malaysia cost me £20 so total is £90. No difference if you ship more. Each bag will ship for £20. If you have anyone visiting the UK, see if they can pick one up for you and save you shipping costs. According to Kahani, it might cost more in store though.
I might get one for a friend’s birthday – apparently, the 15″ one fits a laptop which would be perfect to replace their tatty old laptop bag 🙂
One more thing: While searching online for reviews on the CSC Satchels (there are very few) I came across another company called Tom Brown’s Traditional Satchels from Oxford. The bags on the site looked amazingly similar to that sold by CSC but were about £20 cheaper (a lot after conversion to RM). This company appears to be new and there aren’t any reviews on them. Still, I thought I might try them, so I contacted them, and they responded to my initial questions about shipping. However after 3 email queries which satisfied me, and when I eventually wanted to place an order, I failed to receive any further response from them to my last inquiry about how best to place an international order. I did give them a chance. I wrote to them over the course of 3 weeks, in case they missed my emails but I never heard back, even up till today. Hate to slag off a company, but poor email communication is not on and does not inspire trust in a new online outfit.
Personally, I’d stick to Cambridge Satchel Company even if they do cost more, because I’ve dealt with them before. A satchel isn’t a bag for everyone. Get it if you dream of sleeping on springy heather, drinking ginger beer from bottles and buying farm fresh eggs… as they do in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. I was told by someone that satchels are also gaining popularity in Korean dramas so we might see more satchels popping up.
As for myself, I’m now itching to get another, maybe in Navy blue. I’m horrible! 😛 Might this be your cuppa tea? 😉
Update: As of August 2011 a friend is having a lot of problems with their orders from Cambridge Satchel Company perhaps due to an upsurge in orders and their inability to cope. She has not received her bag after a month and has had no replies to her emails asking about the delay. My friend has since cancelled her order and obtained a refund. There have been many complaints about the poor customer service on the company’s Facebook page. Its a pity their customer service isn’t consistent especially with their rising name, so do take note.
Cambridge Satchel Company Satchels come in various sizes and colours and can be found at www.cambridgesatchel.co.uk. Payment can be made by Paypal.
62 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Used to love bags like these. May take a look and consider. Heheh. Bad influence Paris!
teehee… I really like it as proven by the fact that I’m still carrying it without being fickle and switching bags at every opportuinty
Not for me personally, but good to know there’s a supply and demand for these.
Yep! Satchels aren’t for everyone 😀 But I’m glad too that there’s a ready (and affordable) site to get these.
it adds a bit of school touch for work~!! XD
maybe I should get it as my graduation present next year =)
Yep its a bit school like which is cute if you like it 🙂
Really beautiful leather bag. Love the Red color! may consider to buy but can’t make decision what color and what size to choose! headache ><
Yep I was in that position exactly 😀 For colour, go for one that you will like or that you think might suit your lifestyle. As for size, my suggestion is to go with any one from 13″, 14″ or 15″ – there isn’t that much difference in size and if you’d want to carry papers or a laptop, go for 15″. If you are more relaxed like I am, go for 13″ – it fits enough for day to day use.
Glad to hear that you love your satchel, Paris. I had the chance to *paw* one when I was at Selfridges last June. It is sold right next to the Cath Kidson area at basement 1. If not mistaken, costs about 80+ pounds for a 15 inch size. Online is definitely cheaper. Of course, tourists could get tax refunds at Selfridges.
Looks and feel nice but not my style. The inside is one not so big compartment that I dont think can fit all my umbrella, water bottle, pouches and wallet. Plus, I am those who love magnets and zips. LOL. I think the buckle is a bit on the flimsy side, as in the metal being on the thin side. Maybe to make it lighter. But, as you mentioned, some people would love all these details. =P
Looking forward to hearing how the satchel fares after maybe
You’re right – the compartment isn’t as big as I’m used to with other bags either as its a little narrow. Gotten used to it now though (and learnt I can survive with much fewer things in my bag) 😀 The buckle is rather light, but its alright for day to day use. Perhaps I’ll run an update in a year’s time 😀
Paiseh, cut off mid sentence. Sorry. This is what I meant to say:
Looking forward to hearing how the satchel fares after maybe a year or two!
jojoba (My Makeup Reviews) says
absolutely beautiful bag. stunning! the shot of you carrying it next to the window is lovely too. excellent purchase. and cheap too. i wouldn’t have guessed that price.
Thanks Jojoba! Yep the price surprised me too – its not all that expensive for a well made nice leather bag!
BIG WOW!!! Looks great on you PB, now you look super duper PROFESSIONAL! I know you’ve been professional looking to start with but hey, this is a nice touch!
Hehe… I’m always pro Nikki! *flicks hair* 😉 but thank you so much – its a great little bag 😀
if i were to get one, i’d get the red too!
and… fortunately me not a fan of buckle (lazy). 😛
Haha!! I do tend to leave it unbuckled when I’m in a rush but I love the buckles 😀
I was thinking to get a 15″ as my laptop bag. But I have a worry that it can’t sustain the weight of my laptop. What do you think?
Unless your laptop weighs like an elephant it should be alright. These days, laptops are usually much lighter. As for the strap its held by metal and riveted and sewn onto the side on the bag. I reckon its pretty sturdy. My suggestion will be to keep your laptop inside a protective sleeve before storing in the bag. The bag isn’t padded so it does not absorb impact as normal laptop bags do 🙂
Hi Paris! So that’s where you got your pretty red bag! I saw you carrying it at the recent Guerlain event and was ogling over it. i’m kinda digging the purple one. 🙂 anyone going to london soon?
Thanks Fuan! Its a great bag if you like the style 🙂 If no one you know plans to go to London I believe this is available at Selfridges but colour and size may not be in stock. Else the safest bet to get the colour and size you want is to place an online order. Its really quick once they ship but there might be a month’s wait for them to make it for you 😀
oooh it looks so luxurious that i initially thought it costs a few thousand bucks!! it looks really gorgeous on you la…
Thanks Juan! Its really nice in real life too – and its not expensive… relatively speaking 😀
Hi Paris! Remember me? So THAT’s what the elusive Cambridge satchel looks like…. and it suits you to a T. That’s a lovely shot of you posing with the satchel – great angle – is that a new haircut I see? What a pity the satchel wasn’t available for me to touch, feel and smell on my little mission, eh? Congratulations on getting it at a fabulous price too!
Thanks Ginny and of course I remember you! I might have to pick your brains about NZ 😉 I didn’t have a haircut yet when I took the pic but I have now! Thanks for your help while in HK! 😀
Wish I could have helped more in return for the benefit of your blog opening my eyes to a whole new world of beautiful things. My brain is ready for the picking anytime NZ beckons to you. On an aside, my trip to Oz is just weeks away and my offer still stands……….
Enjoy your trip to Oz Ginny! I’d probably head there next year 😀
I’m also planning to buy myself a red satchel (going to uni this year, yaay). I also tried to contact with Tom Brown Satchel Company but I’ve been waiting an answer to my letter for 5 days now (nothing compared to your 3 weeks but still feeling suspicious).
I’m happy that I found this review, it has been very helpful.
Greetings from Estonia 🙂
I just ordered… lets just say a few online and theres currently a huge demand for them as the brand has been mentioned in Vogue and next month they will be mentioned in GQ so theres a waiting list.
They take around 4 weeks to make.
I ordered a red and yellow 13″ and a navy 15″ batchel and a black batchel for my bf.
cannot wait to get them
My mum had one of these from when she started secondary school (almost exactly like the 15″ brown one from CSC) so i got mine from my attic : ) using it for school this year… I wasn’t sure but now i’m definitely going for it!
I don’t know if you’ll reply since the article was written a while ago…
Have you found the satchel heavy? That is the one thing I am most worried about. I am considering a 15” for Uni next year but am a little concerned about how heavy it will be once I’ve got books, laptop, water bottle…. It is always uncomfortable travelling with a really heavy bag. (but maybe I’ll have to accept it. Your bag is beautiful!)
What are your thoughts on the weight?
I don’t carry books in mine as I use it for work. The 15″ is a little bigger than the 13″ I own and with a laptop and books in there, I can expect it will weigh it down somewhat. The satchel on its own isn’t too heavy, but there is some weight to it. Less heavy than some canvas satchels though. If you just plan to use it for a laptop and some papers, it’ll probably be alright but as it is quite narrow to start with (and doesn’t expand much) you probably couldn’t fit in too many things. If you have to run for lectures, as I used to, it will definitely be a bit of a drag. Hope that helps!
I have just bought an 11″ MacBook Air so I am going to order myself a 15″ Yellow Batchel as my new laptop bag. Figured a 15″ might be more practical since I will need to carry the adapter, external hardrive, mouse etc so 13″ might end up being too small.
My question is this: Did you get taxed by Customs for this bag? I hope not since that’ll really deter me from getting this lovely bag. Thanks in advance for answering my question! Love your blog!
Hi Penny, I didn’t get taxed by Customs but I can’t say that they won’t. Mine came by Fedex and it was quite quick. I hope you have a quick and problem free shipment too! 😀 The batchel looks awesome. I’ve been thinking of one and yes for laptops, I think the best bet is the 15″ Enjoy!
Thanks Paris for the speedy reply! I will go ahead to order one and fingers crossed I don’t get taxed.
Good luck Penny – do let us know how it goes *fingers crossed*
Got my 14″ Purple and Yellow Batchel one week after I placed the order. I was charged RM58.95 for customs duty, which was ok. Was so worried that I would be taxed more.
My batchel is only big enough to hold my 11″ Macbook Air, 2 external Hard Disks, charger and mouse. It’s smaller than I thought. I probably should have gone for 15″ but I like the purple and yellow so I got this one instead.
Oh dear, sorry to hear you got taxed 🙁 That aside, I’m glad despite it being a bit smaller than expected, it still fits your notebook. I’m sure you must really stand out in your Batchel! 😀
I ordered my 15″ batchel 5 weeks ago and they still haven’t written me if the back is already done. I contacted them but they didn’t write back.
Do you have any experience with this?
I didn’t have a problem when I ordered back in 2010. However, as my update points out, my friend who ordered in 2011 is facing a problem with lack of email replies and not getting her order for months. I’m sorry you are going through this and I have updated my post accordingly.
I placed my order over 2 months ago and am still waiting… I ordered 2 satchels, one of them arrived last week, the other is yet to come.
Their customer service takes a while to answer your e-mails and it can be difficult to get through to them on the phone. They are very polite over the phone though, and have already offered me a discount. However, as they’re still marketing a max 30 days wait on their website and not mentioning anything about the current delays on there at the moment, I am disappointed with this service.
As said.. I ordered more than 2 months ago and am still waiting….
p.s. Paris, thanks for showing us all the pics! I also found it difficult to decide on size. The satchel that has arrived was a 15” one, which I do find is smaller than I expected (it holds a A4 paper notebook, but not a folder). I am still waiting for my 13” inch which I intend to use for smaller stuff.