Lo & Sons has revolutionized women's handbags with its combination of style and function the last few years, but sometimes even companies fall victim to their own success.
At Map Happy, we've had the pleasure of reviewing Lo & Sons' numerous product lines, including the O.M.G., O.G., T.T., Seville and Cambridge. In other words, our closets are bursting to the brim with the stuff, and, finally, after a solid three years being intimately acquainted with the brand, it's time to get real. Unfortunately. there has been no bigger disappointment than the T.T., arguably the second-best bag they sell.
The T.T. is positioned as a stylish work tote built for traveling, complete with all of Lo & Sons' traditional features. Expect the same hallmark organizational features, materials and luggage strap to be part of this bag. For the low, low retail price at $260. (I know tone can often be misinterpreted online, so if there's any confusion, that's sarcasm.)
It is worth pointing out the T.T. is $15 cheaper than the O.M.G. which retails at $275, meaning this isn't a random purchase. However, as we've pointed out in the past, Lo & Sons frequently runs large sales up to 40% off, so its better to wait for one of these before pulling the plug. In fact, the T.T. we reviewed was purchased for $156 inclusive of shipping and handling during such one sale.
Lo & Sons is a solid brand but nothing, nothing is perfect. And like all bags, their products suffer from occasional stitching and manufacturing problems—luckily, most of it not extensive—which can be a serious problem when accounting for the price point. Splurging on a Kate Spade or Ted Baker bag is not out of the question at this price level.
It also begs the question: If I can purchase a $300 leather designer bag, why would I spring that for nylon? Sure, it's easy to clean and that's a selling point, but it becomes frustrating when you realize that after a while, these bags tend to lean toward the casual and business casual rather than formal.
How does the T.T. perform in terms of size and weight?
Before we get down and dirty, it's worth providing a basic overview of the T.T. The T.T. is a rather large bag tote, considering it is built for 13” laptops. Because that's what we do.
The T.T. bag measures 14 inches x 15.5 inches x 4.5 inches (35.6 cm x 39.4 cm x 11.4 cm). It weighs about 1.9 pounds (.86 kg), so is similar in weight to the O.M.G. It is not necessarily the lightest bag we have ever carried, and after a while, found us wishing for something lighter, especially when a laptop wasn't being toted around.
The handle drop length, or how much arm that can fit through when carrying the bag, is 9.5 inches (24.1 cm). I found it pretty comfortable whether using it in summer or winter, with a huge bulky coat on, so zero complaints there.
One of the most noticeable differences between the T.T. and the O.M.G./O.G. is the lack of a shoulder strap, perhaps attesting to the fact how bulky the latter bags can be after a while. In fact, it sorta reminds me of bowling bags, while the T.T. has a nice, straight rectangular shape.
In terms of capacity, the T.T. is still a rather large bag. For instance, the T.T. measures in at 11.9 liters, or 6.55 liters short of the O.M.G at 18.45 liters. That's 34% smaller in the volume that it is able to carry versus the O.M.G., though that may be misleading since the O.M.G. is curved and may not fit that full, true capacity as a result.
Sadly, this bag failed in terms of materials and construction.
Look, I don't know if we just got a shitty bag or what. But do you know that saying that you are only as strong as your weakest link? Perhaps it's time to be brutally honest: In terms of construction and quality, the T.T. was the most disappointing bag we've received out of the Lo & Sons line.
Lo & Sons is known for equipping their bags with travel-friendly and weather-resistant materials. The T.T. is primarily made of nylon, like the O.M.G. and O.G.. Its consistent in the fact that it does a good of resisting elements from rain to snow. Bonus point: It's easy to clean. Minus point: Can look on the cheaper side.
Everything seemed fine until we actually began using it. Our testing conditions wasn't extraordinarily rigorous with the T.T to begin with: It endured daily usage as an urban commuting purse and for short, frequent business trips for about a year.
But things began to unravel (literally) quite quickly: It was about three to four months when the stitching started coming loose and fraying around the leather straps.
This worsened significantly as time went on. Seven months in, we had to stop using the T.T. completely because not only did it become increasingly noticeable, it was past the point of being acceptable in business meetings.
For the most part, when these things occur, depending on the extent of the damage, we will sometimes provide feedback on quality control and a chance for the company a chance to address any concerns (it's only fair, we think).
Lo & Sons quickly responded and offered to replace our bag. I'm quite upfront in the fact I realize we sometimes receive preferential treatment over the average customer, so I brought up this question to their spokesman over their lack of warranty. Their response:
To answer your question, our customer service team is one of our greatest attributes as a business. We don't have an official warranty in place, but we are always willing to work with customers, especially when it comes to issues pertaining to quality...
We have moved the T.T. production to a new factory because we were not pleased with their performance. The new factory that we are working with has to undergo better rounds of testing to assure there are less issues on all fronts.
So while it's easy to shit on a company, here's the thing I realized after being the designated “bag lady” for ages: Quality control is one of the hardest things to control for any business, period, and it's even harder for manufacturers that have to deal with a physical product.
So while I'm not totally pleased at how the first bag turned out, Lo & Sons seems to have a high regard for how they treat their customers and making sure standards are up to par. In some ways, that's almost as important as the bag itself but the inconvenience of dealing with the hassle comes at a cost. Is that something you're willing to put up with?
Interior organization is a win, like always
One of the strengths in terms of buying a Lo & Sons bag is how standard some of its interior pockets are: there is always an emphasis on functionality. There's absolutely no fail here.
The front, interior, luggage strap and key strap tend to be signature on most if not all of their bags, The bag fits a 13” laptop comfortably, and should have no problem fitting smaller devices. (The laptop pocket measures 13 inches x 13 inches x 1.4 inches or 33 cm x 33 cm x 3.6 cm.)
There is also a dedicated tablet or Kindle slot in front of the laptop compartment, that can also be used for documents. In this particular aspect, it excels, because it is the perfect spot for documents, provided they are in a protective sleeve of some sort. Documents can be fit in either lengthwise or widthwise.
The front pocket, save for a few minor differences, is exactly similar to the interior pockets of the O.M.G./O.G. There's an inner zip, keychain holder, two pen slots and two side pockets.
(In the O.M.G., one of the side pockets is subdivided to include two more pockets, presumably to hold ID or something. These are missing in the T.T.)
The luggage strap is exactly identical to luggage straps on its other bags. It looks like as a double-zipped pocket on both the top and bottom. The added bonus is that when the bag is not attached to a suitcase, it’s possible to keep the bottom zipper closed and to use it as another pocket.
The T.T. around town, and long-term use
Interestingly enough, when I first received the T.T. it immediately and definitively replaced my Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag as my main piece. That has changed as time has wore on, throughout the year we've owned it.
There is a noticeable absence of a shoe compartment, but that's really not much to quibble about, since this bag is aimed for a completely different purpose.
To be completely fair to the T.T., I was able to shove a pair of heels along with a 13” Windows laptop inside the bag. It's possible to hold both if you're in a pinch! The bag will be bulky and heavy, but that's fair game if you expect to put an entire life inside the bag.
It's worth pointing out it's no longer our main bag. Maybe that says everything, eh?
Comparing the bags
The big question that most people will have between the O.M.G., O.G., T.T. and Seville is which piece they should invest in. I have had quite a bit of time with all these pieces and while the T.T. is by far the bag that will get the most use of the lot, the O.M.G/O.G. is probably the best investment as a first-time piece.
The O.M.G. distinctive shoe compartment—or the ability to function as a overnight/weekender piece—is less common on the current bag market. But as a second piece, without the overnight functionality, the T.T. is a fantastic, less bulky, work piece (if product quality holds up).
The Seville simply just isn't worth the investment at $428 per bag but may be the only choice for those who have huge 15” laptops. (It does have significantly upgraded materials and the option to change out the shells, though the shells come at an additional $178 per pop.)
Make no mistake about it: The T.T. is a well-designed bag if somewhat lacking in execution. Time to get it together.