Review: Burberry Medium Banner House Check Leather Tote in Light Grey Melange

February 02, 2017

The Burberry Banner House Check Tote is part of the brand's permanent collection, and an inoffensive take on the ubiquitous rectangular satchel. I think it first caught my eye around January of 2015, when the Spring/Summer 2015 collection was rolling out. It closely resembles the Prada Saffiano Tote, which inspired an army of copycats.
 
QUALITY The textured, matte calf leather used is softer and more pliable than most stamped leathers that I have encountered. But there were no glaring workmanship issues that I could identify: the goldtone hardware gleams; the stitching is even; the zippers work smoothly; and the check fabric lines up.
Burberry Medium Banner House Check Leather Tote in Light Grey Melange
DETAILS The unique Burberry stamp on this (aside from the embossed "Burberry" at the bottom center of the bag) is the signature check side panels (the bag itself is also lined in the same fabric). Some nice(-to-have) features: protective metal feet/studs; side buckle details; rolled handle straps (4" drop); and a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap (16-18" drop). The bag can be secured with a top magnetic snap closure, which opens to reveal two open compartments separated by a zippered center compartment. Most Banner totes are currently made in Italy. 
 
CAPACITY The Banner Tote is sold in four sizes (Baby—8-1/2" W x 6-1/2" H x 4-1/2" D, Small—10-1/4" W x 7-1/2" H x 4-3/4" D, Medium—13-1/2" W x 9-3/4" H x 6" D, and Large—16' W x 11" H x 7" D); shown here is the "medium," which I feel is most versatile: it's large enough to be a functional work bag (though won't comfortably fit a 12" laptop because of the various compartments), but not so large that you might be discouraged from using it as a weekend bag. I recently emptied the bag and found the following: a large wallet, a small cosmetics bag, sunglasses, a travel mug, a phone, a portable charger, various cables, gloves, earmuffs, and keys. There was room for more too.
Baby (or "Mini") || Small || Medium || Large

PRICE The medium-sized bag currently retails for $1595 (Baby/$1150, Small/$1295, and Large/$1795), which is reasonable for a mid-range designer bag (compared to $2390 for the Prada Saffiano Medium Double Zip Top-Handle Bag, $2890 for the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour Small Satchel Bag, and $2435 for the Givenchy Antigona Medium Leather Satchel Bag). Can you find a similar-looking decent-quality bag for a tenth of the price? Easily. But shoppers acknowledge the built-in designer markup, so I won't include it in this discussion. The bag does occasionally go on sale in "seasonal" colors and may even be found in some outlet stores from time to time, but I would say it's unlikely that you will chance upon a bag matching your color and size preference on sale. Having said this, there's no need to pay retail for this bag. Most department store gift card events (Neiman Marcus and Saks events come to mind) include these bags in the promotion, so you can earn at least $150-$200 in gift cards; alternatively, you can exploit the exchange rate, and order from retailers who price the bag in euros or pounds.
You can buy the Burberry Banner House Check Leather Tote at Nordstrom (more colors here), Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, and Burberry.

Saks is currently running a gift card event, during which you can earn up to $700 in gift cards (on purchases of $3000+). Enter code FEB2017 at checkout. The entire Burberry collection is included.

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