|For:||Leather quality, workmanship, features, charm, ease of use|
|Against:||Sturdy and heavier than other journals|
The Italians are finally on the scene – with a range of leather journals teeming with style and passion.
Borlino has a range of leather products which are handmade in a studio in Italy. This includes briefcases, messenger bags, travel bags and accessories like notebooks and journals.
The Borlino team pride themselves in a design process that is thoughtful, meticulous and never rushed, and it shows. They use ancient vegetable tanning methods dating back to the Roman Empire, and their Tuscany leather is amongst the finest we’ve reviewed.
Upon opening our postage box, the “Vachetta Walnut” or dark brown leather journal arrived in a very elegant matte black box, with the Borlino logo stamped in chrome. Upon opening the lid, this product had black tissue paper gently folded on top, as if it arrived from an expensive boutique fashion store.
The first thing that hit us was the smell! The most glorious smell of vegetable tanned Tuscan leather. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s like a hybrid between the normal vegetable tan smell, and the traditional metallic tanning smell – with a dash of honeymilk. Yep you read that correctly!
The second thing we noticed was the quality of the leather and stitching. Make no mistake, this is the finest leather we have ever seen on any journal or notebook. It looks like it belongs on a fine pair of Italian shoes. It has all the artefacts, scratches and scrapes you’d expect to see on full-grain leather. It’s also quite solid and heavy, and at least as solid as our “Noise Goods Leather Journal” we reviewed earlier. The stitching is perfect and absolutely faultless.
This product boats a fine array of features, with a leather pocket on the inside cover for housing folded documents, receipts, or even your mobile phone, and 4 business card pockets line the inside rear cover. We’ve never seen them in this horizontal arrangement before, and will pay close attention to their usability during our one-week test.
The pen holder fits neatly within the closure strap, which is a new approach for us too. It doesn’t have an adjustable elastic piece like the Artex and Franklyn-Christoph products we reviewed, which may sacrifice a little usability whilst upholding its premium look and feel. Now to the closure strap, how do we even describe this? Well it basically hugs itself closed. It goes without a magnet, button or pin clasp, and the continuous leather (without the interruption of metals) adds to the classic feel of this product.
The inner A5 notebook is spiral bound, with classic white lined pages. It doesn’t have many notable features (see what we did there) that stand out, like the perforated pages or ribbon place holders of other products. One cool feature was the addition of an extra back cover, so that the first can slide under the leather fold, and the second (which matches the front cover) becomes the new back cover. It appears sturdy and well-made, with a minimalist feel that doesn’t subtract from its sumptuous leather surroundings.
SPECIAL NOTE: We had to follow up with the Borlino Company 10 days after placing our online order as we hadn’t received any shipping notifications. The customer service rep apologised for the delay, dispatched the leather notebook immediately, and included a “Small gift on behalf of the CEO”. We were absolutely delighted to find a small black leather credit card/business card sleeve. Upon further investigation, we learnt this was fine ostrich leather, the softest we’ve ever felt.This is the best example of Customer Service 101 out there! To clarify, we made this purchase personally, with no mention of ourTop10LeatherJournals.com review site.
We carried the Borlino Fine Leather Journal with us for a week of everyday use. With our high first impressions, we needed to evaluate the usability and durability of this product.
The leather slightly carries marks and scrapes, but that’s to be expected, and we’d be worried if it didn’t. This is made from a very thick hide, with at least 2 layers of 7mm hide present throughout. As such, it’s heavier than cheaper leather journals.
Let’s have a close look at the features.
The closing “hug myself closed” strap does its job perfectly. Despite having no point of fixture, it never came loose. It does protrude from the front cover, and we expected this to disturb the flat writing surface when the product was open. However, it was so sturdy that it offered a good support base.
The front cover inner sleeve is probably thicker than it needs to be, but this held receipts, brochures, and even my new Galaxy Note 7 securely in place.
As pictured, the pen holder is cut from the inside of the leather closure strap. We had our doubts about this simple design, as it lacks the small elastic component built into other products we’ve reviewed. As it turned out, this was able to securely hold a pencil, a medium pen and even the thick Mont Blanc rollerball we use. It passed all of our tests, and closing the strap secures the writing instrument in place.
The four card slots on the inside back cover are perfect for business cards or credit cards. They hold secure, and again the stitching is robust and faultless.
Finally, the A5 notebook is universally sized so it can be easily replaced. This is the first “Premium” leather journal we’ve seen with a spiral bound notebook, and we thought it would cheapen the overall offering. The truth is that it did not. The book was easily spread open, and the brilliant white pages were easy to turn. The minimalist chrome logo on the front cover is also beautiful, in a quietly confident “I don’t need to prove myself” way. The only notebook feature we missed was perforation on the pages to neatly separate and share.
This is the finest notebook we have reviewed to date. It has the perfect combination of features, leather, workmanship, and price. The Borlino company excel at customer service, with their apology and small gift for the delay in shipping the product. It’s hard to imagine this beauty only costs $45 USD more than the Miansai Leather Notebook we reviewed earlier this month. The quality and workmanship are worlds apart! We think that Borlino’s team of craftsmen are experts in their field and should be commended. We’d happily recommend any of their leather goods, even beyond their journals and notebooks.