The new Forbes and Lewis men’s bags collections offers contemporary style in timeless packages.

Long-term followers of The Science of Appearance will no I’m a big fan of Dorset-born label, Forbes & Lewis. I first got in contact with them over a year a go when I was first asked to review their debut collection of men’s accessories. You can read my first review in my Master the Art of the Man Bag blog post.

The first collection was impressive, it was a focused range with a clear aesthetic, it payed homage to traditional styles, blending in a modern, masculine aesthetics with a fashion conscious edge. It was a great first outing but the brand still had some steps to take.

Moving on to the present day an Forbes & Lewis are asked me to look at their latest additions to the range, I got my hands on the Devon rucksack, Wiltshire messenger bag and Somerset holdall. I took these bags out on a shoot with the lovely Emma Hoareau from Notion Magazine last week so all photo credits go to her.

The Devon rucksack

The Wilshire messenger bag

The Somerset Holdall

Well, it’s a all round thumbs up from me. Forbes & Lewis has paid close attention to their target market and their needs. The new bags are well-thought out, progressive and well made, all while keeping hold of the label’s country-born, city-worn style.

My first outing was with the Wiltshire messenger bag, it’s a modest size cross-body style with two front pockets under the flap fastening with a central main compartment and internal zipped pocket. The bag is made from 16oz waterproof canvas, a speciality of the brand, with a tonal leather flap fastening. The bag is detailed with Forbes & Lewis’ now signature colour pop on the cary handle, this time in lime green. One key area of improvement over debut styles like the Dorset satchel is loosening of the internal lining, this was something I picked up before and it’s great to see the brand making these changes, the new lining is flexible and moved with the flap opening. The bag is light, cleanly styles and has everything you need in a good day bag. It’s a little on the small side for myself, but that’s because I tend to carry half the kitchen sink with me (work docs, gym kit, multiple food/tupperware boxes etc), so I usually need to carry a holdall or additional kit bag. The Wiltshire retails at £125 and is available in black, khaki, tan and blue.

Up next was the Somerset holdall. This is a beautiful bag, well constructed, stylish with it’s canvas and leather build and best yet, the perfect size. It’s small enough that you can get away with it as a day-to-day bag for folks like me who cart gym kit about but don’t want to be seen with a shabby sports bag, yet is big enough to be the ideal travel partner for overnight and weekend stays.

The bag features the signature colour-pop handles with a webbing shoulder strap (detachable) and two internal slip pockets for quick-reach essentials. Hardware comes in the form of polished brass D-rings and clips and the finer details include branded leather logo tabs. The bag is available in black, khaki, tan and blue for £140 and is also available in full-leather vintage leather and electric blue styles for £190.

Finally we have the Devon rucksack. I am slightly obsessed with this bag. I have been looking for a rucksack for ages but finding it difficult to not end up looking like a juvenile or not being quite ‘street’ enough in my look to pull off contemporary styles.  Then this bag came a long and saved me.

Above all it is the perfect size, it fits in all of daily stuff including food and gym kit with ease and hangs effortlessly off your back. It’s so slick and masculine with it’s boxy shape and tonal black leather and canvas. contrast straps at the front pay homage to the brand’s signature style and the brass hardware gives a contemporary finish. Inside the flap fastening is lined in the canvas for a premium finish. and theres also a drawstring fastening for extra security - I love this feature and it’s tie in with the Arnold bag’s traditional duffle style. If I had to find one fault, and this is me stretching, is that there is no internal pocket, when I hit the gym I’d like to have somewhere to through my phone/keys/wallet for quick access later, but this isn’t a hindrance as I just put it in my accessories pouch where I hold moisturiser etc and grab that. This bag is about a near perfect as I have found any accessory lately, so much so I have been using it almost every day for 2 months. No matter what my styl eof dress is that day. It goes with everything. The slim canvas straps are understated and the clean proportions and solid colour make it effortless to wear. The Devon rucksack is available in black, tan and blue for £85.

You really cant beat the value of Forbes & Lewis bags, pound for pound and style for style. Anything comparable on the high street would still hit in at a similar price yet comes with the tag of being mass-produced for the commercial market. With Forbes & Lewis bags you are not only getting great style and quality, but your getting an independent story, I love it when people ask me where my bag is from, which they do frequently when I am toting anything by Forbes & Lewis, and I get to tell them about this awesome little country brand I know.

Forbes & Lewis is available online at and they also do a range of accessories including wallets and the coolest iPad/Kindle easels.

Follow Forbes & Lewis on twitter

And a final massive thanks to Emma for the pictures!

Be sure to take a look at her blog Lolita Says So and check out what happened when I put her in front of the camera.


Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.