Best Leather Tote 2019 — Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

While many people seek a sleek, small bag to provide a cute contrast, many people are simply looking for an everyday bag that can keep up with the realities of life. Whether you have to carry a laptop or a tablet as well as a wallet, keys, tissues, and litany of other items, a cute clutch just will not always cut it.

The top 10 most popular Tote based on sales on the website BestReviews.Tips. Updated daily.

1. MICHAEL Michael Kors Jet Set Top-Zip Tote – Most Styled Leather Tote

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Michael Kors is a giant in the fashion industry and with good reason. Seeking to blend the chic with the classic, his designs have earned him awards and accolades for the better part of two decades. His Jet Set lineup, for which there are numerous silhouettes, is just another in a long line of this philosophy.

One of the characteristic qualities about a Michael Kors brand bag is that they often use Saffiano leather. This is a top grain leather that is then pressed into a crosshatched design. This provides an elegant look while maintaining a soft, supple, and durable product.

The Top-Zip model of the Jet Set tote lineup also comes in a dizzying array of 31 different styles with numerous accents along a similar palette as well as a wide range of palettes altogether. To top it all off, this leather tote also features a robust number of compartments including both pockets and slips.

Of course, carrying the name and prestige of the Michael Kors brand definitely inflates the price a bit. Another concern is the fact that this is an exceedingly small tote. While the silhouette may be a tote, that style is generally designed to be larger and hold more than this bag is capable of doing.

Pros
  • Saffiano leather is top quality
  • Offers a wealth of compartments
  • Comes a wide array of styles
Cons
  • Is one of the smaller totes
  • Is a more expensive leather tote
  • Has a shorter drop than others


2. Ilishop Women’s Leather Large Shoulder Tote – Largest Leather Tote

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Ilishop is likely not a brand of designer fashion bags that you have heard and for good reason. While an American company, the brand imports their products from China. Moreover, this brand does not actually sell in brick-and-mortar storefronts like other designer brands, instead relying exclusively on online outlets.

Keeping that in mind, it is not that surprising that the Ilishop has some durability issues. More specifically, this bag’s zipper is known for coming undone or even losing teeth–the latter of which is a bit rare and highlights a lower grade of metal used for the zipper.

Another troubling aspect is that this is a genuine leather bag, which is the lowest grade of leather. To push that issue further, this bag is actually made from a single strip of leather that is then layered with a synthetic material, giving it a plastic look and feel.

Still, the Ilishop does provide some genuine advantages–especially in the tote silhouette category. Specifically, this is the largest leather tote we reviewed. Considering the silhouette’s function is be large and carry a great deal of items, this size might make up for some of the durability issues. Of course, if you prefer, you can also order the Ilishop in a more petite size.
Pros
  • Can come in a large or small size
  • Features a robust amount of storage
  • Is a less expensive leather tote
Cons
  • Does not come in many styles
  • Has a shorter drop than others
  • Does not offer many compartments
  • The zipper is not durable
  • Genuine leather is the lowest grade


3. Kattee Vintage Genuine Leather Shoulder Tote – Best Hobo Leather Tote

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Much like some of the other brands on our list, Kattee is a brand that eschews the traditional brick-and-mortar storefront approach to sell direct to the consumer online or through other online channels. However, unlike many of the other online only brands we reviewed, Kattee has been able to transcend the often dubious nature of that business model to become a reasonably well-respected brand.

In that vein, the Kattee leather tote is able to skirt the line between the different price points. Since they do not have the same prestige, they cannot sell their wares for over $100 like other brands, though their generally good reputation does allow them to still goose the price a bit. Ultimately though, they are still a reasonably price bag.

The tote takes a bit of a unique approach in that it seeks to blend a number of different bag types in one. First, it fundamentally relies on the tote silhouette and purpose to inform its design, primarily by providing a robust amount of storage space. Granted, those looking for a sleeker bag can purchase a smaller model too.

Still, this tote combines the size and shape of a standard tote with the soft, supple, slouchy feel and look of a hobo bag. To top it all off, the Kattee also provides a crossbody strap, so it can be worn in a couple of different ways. That said, this is all achieved by using a somewhat lower grade of genuine leather.
Pros
  • Can come in a large or small size
  • Is a less expensive leather tote
  • Features a robust amount of storage
Cons
  • Does not come in many styles
  • Has a shorter drop than others
  • Genuine leather is the lowest grade


4. Covelin Leather Tote Shoulder Handbag – Best Small Leather Tote

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The list of online only brands continues as Covelin follows a familiar trend in the different products we reviewed by ensuring that it is an American company, but it still handles most of its manufacturing in China. That said, the Covelin is at least one of the few brands utilizing this business model that does not have a significant presence of reviewers noting a failure in the durability or design quality with one aspect or another.

Still, this leather tote is just technically leather, much like the other online only brands, preferring to use the less expensive genuine grade of leather rather than the higher grades of top or full grain. The Covelin also reinforces its leather by spraying synthetic plastic material overtop it. This can give it a fake appearance, though it does not actually affect its durability.

Though, it definitely seems like Covelin sought to strike a balance with their tote in terms of comfort. For one, this is one of the few bags we reviewed that can come in either a vertical or cross design. Also, the Covelin provides one of the better handle drops we saw at just under 11”.

Pros
  • Can come in vertical or cross arrangement
  • Is a less expensive leather tote
  • Features a good drop length
Cons
  • Does not come in many styles
  • Is one of the smaller totes
  • Genuine leather is the lowest grade


5. S-ZONE Vintage Genuine Leather Tote Shoulder Handbag – Best Budget Leather Tote

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S-ZONE is another brand that outsources the design and manufacturing of its products to China that ends up with mixed results. For one this is another product from a company following that business plan which uses the lowest grade of leather that is then reinforced with a plastic spray. Keep in mind, most of the products that do this are using a single strip of cross section leather.

That said, the S-ZONE definitely seeks to differentiate itself from the other budget friendly Chinese brands by providing a tote that offers a number of design features which are generally not found in its specific niche competitors. For instance, this is one of the largest totes we reviewed at just under 1000 cu. In.

On top of that, the S-ZONE features a vertical design that comes in 8 different styles to choose from. Also, while the leather may not be spectacular, the nylon lining is actually a better material used for the inner than many of the designer brands which opt for a cheaper, less reliable polyester instead.

Unfortunately, the construction woes of this bag are not merely limited to the use of thin genuine leather. For one, while the lining may be made out of a durable nylon, the stitching for the lining is single weld and not durable. Durability issues also plague the handles which are thin and ultimately are at a higher risk of breaking due to the vertical design’s stress point placed on them.
Pros
  • Is a less expensive leather tote
  • Features a good drop length
  • Comes a wide array of styles
  • Features a robust amount of storage
  • Nylon lining is a quality material
Cons
  • Genuine leather is the lowest grade
  • The liner stitching is not durable
  • The straps are not durable


6. Michael Kors Mk Jet Set Signature Shoulder Tote Bag – Most Compartmented Leather Tote

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Michael Kors continues its philosophy of the simple blended perfectly with chic in its Jet Set lineup with the MK Signature series model. In doing so, the brand takes a definitive step beyond its purely designer roots as it makes a play towards the more functional by loading this bag with design features that are frankly somewhat rare for a Michael Kors brand bag.

For instance, this bag seeks to provide an option for people of all sizes, rather than simply erring on the side of a single model. The MK Signature accomplishes this in two ways. First, the shoulder drop of this bag’s handles is a solid 9 ½”. This is a sharp divergence from the general Michael Kors design which is often too small for some people. However, Michael Kors makes sure that there is something for everyone by also offering this bag in both large and small sizes.

Fashion company Coach would purchase luxury retailer Kate Spade for $2.4 billion.

The familiar qualities of a Michael Kors bag are also to be found with the MK Signature tote as well. For instance, while not the most on our list, this bag offers 15 different styles to choose from which is still better than many of the other bags we reviewed. Moreover, Michael Kors uses its signature Saffiano leather so that the bag looks good, feels soft, and is also durable too.
Pros
  • Can come in large or small sizes
  • Features a good drop length
  • Offers a wealth of compartments
  • Comes a wide array of styles
  • Saffiano leather is top quality
Cons
  • Is a more expensive leather tote
  • Is one of the smaller totes
  • Amazon does not guarantee authenticity


7. AINIMOER Women’s Leather Crossbody Tote – Best Crossbody Leather Tote

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AINIMOER is a brand similar to many of the others on our list which do not make an attempt to seek storefront stocking. Instead, the brand prefers to sell either direct or through other online retailers. The benefit of this platform is that they can sell quality goods at a lower cost. Though, this is one of the brands like that which are not actually headquartered in America.

That still does not prevent AINIMOER from providing a quality bag. In fact, this bag actually uses that highest grade of leather out of any that we reviewed. Using a full grain leather, the AINIMOER has arguably the most durable outer that we saw–though, this does mean that the bag will be a bit stiffer upon arrival and take longer to break in.

Still, the AINIMOER makes use of another feature that less established brands can get away with: hybrid silhouettes. In this instance, the AINIMOER blends the silhouette of a tote with a crossbody bag. This provides some versatility in how you can wear the bag. Though, it should be noted that the handles do feature a rather short drop of under 7”.

Of course, if you wear this tote as a crossbody bag, the adjustable 23.5” drop is more than sufficient for any shape or sized wearer. Even better, this bag offers 7 different compartments and 10 different styles to choose from providing both form and function.

Pros
  • Made from high quality full grain leather
  • Is a less expensive leather tote
  • Features a good shoulder drop length
  • Offers a wealth of compartments
  • Comes a wide array of styles
Cons
  • Is one of the smaller totes
  • Features a short hand drop
  • Stitches and clasps are not durable


8. Fossil Sydney Shopper Tote – Best All Around Value Leather Tote

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Fossil is far more well known for manufacturing high quality timepieces that are also designer in nature. On top of that, Fossil is a brand which cut its teeth making products designed more for a male market–something that continues today. In fact, even the products designed for women display some of the simplicity that generally informs products manufactured for the male market.

That being said, the male market also has a tendency to place a premium on durability and construction quality. Thankfully, Fossil continues that trend with this bag as well. This is on full display as the Fossil bag is the only one we saw which did not use a synthetic material for the liner.

For instance, the Sydney Shopper is made out of a high quality, top grain leather called Luxe leather. This type of leather is made so that the natural look is combined with exceptional strength during the tanning process.

Of course, the simplicity of Fossil does also rear its head specifically with a veritable dearth of styles at 3 total–the lowest number out of any leather tote we reviewed. On top of that, the bag is definitely a bit short in drop–though not excessively so. It also has fewer compartments than some of its competitors, though again not so few as to raise alarms.

Pros
  • Features a robust amount of storage
  • Cotton lining is soft and durable
  • Made from a high quality Luxe leather
Cons
  • Is a more expensive leather tote
  • Does not come in many styles
  • Has a shorter drop than others
  • Does not offer many compartments


9. YALUXE Horse Leather Work Tote – Best Vertical Leather Tote

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The YALUXE is the final product we reviewed which follows the business model that seems to be taking the designer fashion bag market by storm: sell exclusively online. The continued advantage of this model is that these bags have a tendency to be significantly less expensive than those from other companies which set up in storefronts.

Oddly, that is not necessarily the case with the YALUXE, but the reason why is well worth the slightly more expensive price point. This bag is the only we saw to use horse hide leather. While this may make some people a bit uncomfortable, it is undeniable in terms of the quality it provides. Horsehide is both softer and stronger than cowhide leather, though it does have a tendency to show the animal’s natural scarring.

Still, the YALUXE is not simply satisfied with providing one of the best leathers we reviewed, they also strive to ensure that their bag is simply one of the best constructed as well. For one, this bag uses a strap that is a bit wider than most and is held in place by a double cross stitch so there is no risk of it failing. On top of that, the zipper is heavy duty–even beyond YKK–and sewn to a thick fabric liner.

That said, this tote is definitely more limited in terms of style. This is due to the fact that to achieve the type of leather quality and look that YALUXE seeks, they are unable to stain the leather like some of the other brands. This also leaves the YALUXE bag more prone to being easily scratched.

Pros
  • Features a good drop length
  • Offers a wealth of compartments
  • Uses a durable and luxurious horse leather
Cons
  • Is a more expensive leather tote
  • Does not come in many styles
  • Is one of the smaller totes


10. kate spade new york Cedar Street Small Tote – Best Traditional Leather Tote

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kate spade is a brand with a founder whose impeccable eye for fashion began as an editor for Mademoiselle magazine. Dissatisfied with the products she reviewed, the designer decided if want something done right, you have to do it yourself. To that end, the kate spade brand seeks to take classic silhouettes and give them a modern appeal. While this is somewhat similar to Michael Kors or other brands, kate spade makes it a point to use vibrant, eye-catching colors that others might shy from.

As such, this bag definitely leans more on the classic style of the tote silhouette. For one, it features a solid amount of room which is the reason for the tote’s existence in the first place. However, where many other brands fill their tote silhouette with multiple mains, pockets, and slips, kate spade keeps with tradition by focusing almost entirely on a single large compartment. Add the high quality crosshatched leather, and this is the quintessential tote.

Of course, this can be a bit of a pain if you intend to use the tote as an everyday bag since the single additional compartment does not offer much in the way of organization. Another design feature that is troubling is the slightly short drop. While a 9” drop is standard for the fashion industry tote, it is not always appropriate for a real world situation.

Pros
  • Crosshatched leather is a high quality
  • Comes a wide array of styles
  • Features a robust amount of storage
Cons
  • Is a more expensive leather tote
  • Has a shorter drop than others
  • Does not offer many compartments


Buyer’s Guide:

Materials:

The outer material of all the totes on this list is leather, but not all leathers are created equally. There are numerous grades of leather that will each influence how the leather feels, how durable it is, and most importantly the cost. This consideration gets even more difficult when you consider exotic leathers that are not made from cowhide.

Genuine Leather

This is the lowest grade of leather available. Rather than relying on a given layer of skin, genuine leather is actually made by gluing or fusing strips of leather together. While this is a significantly less expensive grade of leather, it is also the least durable. Also, genuine leather will often be treated with plastics or other chemicals which can make it look and feel “cheap.”

Top Grain Leather

This is technically the middle grade of leather used, but it is actually seen as the premiere choice of leather for totes and other bags. This is because top grain leather is significantly softer and more flexible than full grain leather. It is also much lighter which altogether make it a more comfortable leather to use.

Full Grain Leather

While full grain leather may not necessarily be the top choice for a designer handbags, it still remains the highest grade of leather available. Unlike the other grade of leather, full grain uses the entire layer of skin. While this may render full grain leather thicker and heavier, it also provides a significantly more durable material that will last longer than any other grade of leather.

Exotic

While this is not technically a “grade” of leather, exotic leathers involve using skin from animals other than cows. While cowhide leather is the most common, that is usually due to its availability more than anything else. Exotic leathers will often have the advantage of being both more durable than cowhide as well as lighter and softer. Unfortunately, exotic leathers are also far more likely to show the natural scarring of the animal which is not necessarily a feature all consumers desire.

Compartments:

Technically, totes are not designed to have a wealth of different compartments. Instead, this bag was meant to carry larger items that smaller silhouettes could not properly handle. That said, the modern person is often carrying too many item for that to be a reasonable expectation. As such, the addition of numerous compartments can make keeping your different items separate much easier.

The three primary compartments you are liable to find in a tote are the main, pocket, and slip. While every bag has a main compartment, totes are notable for being large enough to have multiple main compartments. In fact, some totes will even go so far as to have three main compartments.

Pockets and slips are much smaller compartments that are intended to hold your smaller items and keep them from getting lost at the bottom of the main. Pockets are noted for closing with either a zipper or a snap, while slips remain open for easy retrieval of often used items like smartphones.


Conclusion:

Depending on what your needs and budget are, which tote is the best leather tote for you will differ greatly from another shopper. If you need a larger tote explicitly for the increased storage capacity, the Ilishop and Kattee are both solid options.

In terms of organization, there can be two approaches. The first favors the more modern bag which offers a wealth of organizational features. In this vein, the Michael Kors MK Jet Set Signature series is the best bet. Conversely, the kate spade is the least compartmented tote we saw, which is more in line with the original intent of a tote–even if it is less convenient for organizational purposes.

Tote NameSize, inchColor 
MICHAEL Michael Kors Jet Set Top-Zip Tote miniMichael Kors Jet Set Tote
Review & Video
15 x 10 x 532Check Price
Ilishop Women's Leather Large Shoulder Tote miniIlishop Large Tote
Review & Video
19 x 6 x 125Check Price
Kattee Vintage Genuine Leather Shoulder Tote miniKattee Vintage Tote
Review & Video
16 x 7 x 114Check Price
Covelin Leather Tote Shoulder Handbag miniCovelin Leather Handbag
Review & Video
15 x 11 x 57Check Price
S-ZONE Vintage Genuine Leather Tote Shoulder Handbag miniS-ZONE Vintage Handbag
Review & Video
12 x 6 x138Check Price
Michael Kors Mk Jet Set Signature Shoulder Tote Bag miniMichael Kors Mk Signature Bag
Review & Video
16 x 12 x 615Check Price
AINIMOER Women's Leather Crossbody Tote miniAINIMOER Crossbody Tote
Review
14 x 10 x 510Check Price
Fossil Sydney Shopper Tote miniFossil Sydney Tote
Review & Video
13 x 12 x 53Check Price
YALUXE Horse Leather Work Tote miniYALUXE Horse Tote
Review & Video
14 x 11 x 63Check Price
kate spade new york Cedar Street Small Tote minikate spade NY Cedar Tote
Review & Video
17 x 10 x 6 9Check Price
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