A light brown zippered cover made from super soft leather
I received the A5 sized Superior Labor leather portfolio as a Christmas gift from my wife and loved it. This has quickly become my daily carry stationery cover as it nicely fits my Leuchtturm Bullet Journal, a spare Field Notes notebook and a pen slot with which I carry my Pilot 823 fountain pen. This portfolio is a great colour, and the leather is very soft and pleasant to the feel.
I have seen the Superior Labor products for some time, but as the sleeve is on the more expensive side of leather work, hadn’t yet purchased one. Being gifted one was delightful and thoughtful. My wife picked it up from Wonderpens in Toronto via online order, which was painless even for someone who doesn’t do much online shopping. I am not sure if these portfolios are unique to Wonderpens, but I believe they are one of the only retailers in North America that carry them.
The Superior Labor
Superior Labor is a Japanese specialty maker making a selection of high-quality leather, canvas and metal parts with unique and attractive designs. They make a selection of pen cases and portfolios which are highly attractive to stationery enthusiasts.
The A5 Leather Portfolio
I have had my eye on this portfolio for quite some time, but at $220.00 Canadian, it always seemed a little out of reach. I had never got an opportunity to hold one in person and perhaps that was part of the hesitation. Even though the pictures are lovely, I find leather to be a tangible product that must be touched and held to really fall in love with (or not). Perhaps I am particular, but I do have a fondness for soft, brown leather that will wear nicely for my stationery products. This Superior Leather portfolio does not disappoint.
The first thing I noticed about the portfolio that I wasn’t aware of before ordering is that it is a zippered pouch style. A high-quality and seemingly durable zipper unzips two sizes (the top and the right side - sorry lefties). The interior is a compartment to slide an A5 notebook into. I was expecting more of a flat-opening portfolio that one installs a journal into, similar to my previous covers. Having used this for a couple of months though, this is actually a nice benefit. I get to take out my notebook to write on and see more of it (my 2019 journal is a Leuchtturm1917 red dots which I enjoy seeing). As an added advantage, it is swift to replace. I have a specific journal for a club that I attend one night per week and can just pop out my daily journal and replace it in seconds. I have found that I can carry just this portfolio rather than taking a backpack with the extra notebook.
The leather is very soft and is a rich brown with a little orange tone to it. It feels very smooth and warm to the touch, and I assume it has some type of finish on it.
The inside has a large cavity for storing your A5 notebook of choice as well as a slanted pocket on the back cover for any loose papers or flat ephemera that you need to carry. Folded letter paper fits perfectly in the back. The zipper mentioned above also has a beautiful leather zipper pull and a key-chain style Superior Labor leather tag. I left this on, but I am sure you could easily detach if you found it was too big for your carry.
The front of the portfolio features two pockets - one large enough to store a Field Notes style notebook and a pen-sized pouch. Because of the softness of the leather, I felt comfortable carrying a reasonably expensive fountain pen in the slot - my Pilot 823. This is pretty as well as functional with a large vacuum filler and high ink capacity and means that I often carry just this portfolio rather than a bag with journals and pens.
The Superior Labor logo is stamped and gold filled on the bottom left corner of the front. It will be interesting to see how this wears, but after 2 months of carrying around in my backpack, the gold does not show any sign of damage.
The Superior Labor A5 portfolio is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. With soft, high-quality leather and perfect stitching, it is worth the investment. Given the price point, I do consider this piece to be an investment that will provide many years of use, and I expect it to patina and wear nicely.
I do recommend this portfolio, and Wonderpens, the retailer that carries this beautiful product. If you pick one up, let me know what you think!