One of the things I have always found interesting about bags is the way they are defined by their intent. There is more to them than their fabric and stitch. To judge a bag, you need to look beyond what it is to what it aspires to fill itself with. In other words, bags have souls, and like people, you can’t judge them just by what they are. You must also consider what they want to be.
The Acme Made Clutch is a bag that aspires to be as sleek as the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro that it is designed to fit. At that, it succeeds. Those looking for an all-purpose laptop bag to throw anything and everything into should look elsewhere, though. The Clutch is as minimalist, meticulously organized and with as much eye to fashion and form, it’s as if Jonny Ive had designed it for Steve Jobs himself. But Steve never was a guy who needed to keep a lot of things in his bag.
Like its namesake, the Clutch is meant to be the effortless afterthought of laptop bags. As a bright young thing dashing out for a night on the town might grab her clutch purse on the way out the door, the Clutch is a light, slender and extremely fashionable bag, designed to hold the essentials of a digital life and nothing more. And again like its namesake, the Clutch is defined as much by what it won’t hold as what it will.
The Clutch is undeniably attractive, and I’ve gotten many compliments about it from more fashionable friends of mine. The exterior of the Clutch is made of a coated canvas with an appealing shimmer in direct light, and its design is simplicity itself: it’s a stylish padded envelope hanging over the shoulder by a black, silken strap.
Open up that envelope and the Clutch is still lovely. The interior is made of a quilted twill nylon, beautifully jet. Yet it’s the Clutch’s emphasis on svelte compartmentalization that really makes it just such a marvel.
A padded divider splits the main pocket into two sections: one is perfectly sized for a 13-inch MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, while the other is big enough for an iPad 2 and your power brick, side-by-side (or miscellaneous papers and folders). Beneath the flap of the envelope, there is a CD-sized zippered pocket, three business-card-sized holders, a couple of pen holders and a smartphone-sized pocket, perfect for an iPhone. Velcro keeps the flap closed, which is about the only criticism of the Clutch’s design I can muster, if only because velcro is the duct tape of fasteners: wholly inelegant, but nothing really works better.
Ultimately, the Clutch is lovely, but matching its intent to yours is important. This is not a flexible bag. It is not a jack-of-all-trades: just like a clutch purse is designed to hold just a stick of lipstick, a few keys, and some money, Acme Made’s Clutch won’t easily fit more than your mobile essentials. Your MacBook Air might slide into the Clutch as if they were concurrently designed, but try to cram a camera, a few books, a thick sheath of papers and a mess of other gadgets and knick-knacks in on top and the Clutch starts feeling like a dandy forced into a concrete-eating competition.
Not everyone is going to want to spend $99.95 for a bag like the Clutch. Attractive and well-designed as it may be, $100 is a lot to spend on a bag that fits less than most courier-style bags. And for those men who are already self-conscious of the supposedly feminine associations of an over-the-shoulder bag, the idea of buying a laptop bag that is so similar to a particular species of purse that it’s actually named after it is probably beyond the pale.
If you are a fan of Apple’s products and everything the represent, though, you will love the Clutch. As a bag, its intent is Jobsian: the Clutch smacks of zen minimalism, high fashion and a geek’s fascination with organization and compartmentalization, all at once. For me, that means it is the best laptop bag I have ever owned.