Monday, December 16, 2019

Review: Shibui 5-Pen Case in Saddle Brown Leather


When I started using and collecting fountain pens, I didn't realize that the hobby would include a lot of other products. A few months into the hobby, I learned that aside from adding more fountain pens to my collection, using these pens involves a lot of other fascinating products -- paper, ink, and carrying cases such as pen wraps -- or rolls -- and pen cases. For so many years, I enjoyed using a blue 12-pen flannel pen roll as my daily pen carry. The cloth was safe for my pens, it was easy to wash/clean, and it carried a lot of pens. But I realized I needed a smaller carrying case for only a few pens, too. I needed one that's sturdier and more secure.

During the 2018 Manila Fountain Pen Show, I came upon Shibui PH and their leather pen cases. It was love at first sight! Shibui's leather pen cases became one of my must-haves as a fountain pen user/collector. They are well crafted and looked like the perfect pen case that I needed! Two months later, I received Shibui's 5-pen case in lovely saddle brown leather. The pen case is beautiful, well built, and ready for the rough and tumble of being an everyday carry, or what we call our EDC. I was ready to use it and write a review, but my health held down everything for a while. For most of 2019, blogging, calligraphy, and my other hobbies were grounded as my body needed time to heal from surgery. I am now fully recovered and back to blogging and reviewing with Shibui's leather pen case as my comeback review before 2019 ends.

Shibui's white boxes — neat, simple, elegant. 

Shibui's products are packaged in large white boxes printed only with the Shibui logo. This careful, efficient, and elegant product presentation is very classy and truly impressive. Inside the box are the pen case, a small flyer with leather care instructions, and a postcard. The inside bottom of the box contains the Shibui brand philosophy, contact details, and their social media accounts.

The pen case inside Shibui's iconic white box.
Inside the box: flyer for leather care, postcard, Shibui brand philosophy, and their contact details.

Shibui pen cases are handcrafted by artisans in Bulacan, a province in the Philippines' Central Luzon region where leather crafting is a major industry. The leather used in their beautiful pen cases is locally sourced from either Bulacan or Marikina City in Metro Manila where specific cowhide colors are made for them. Unlike other companies that outsource their production, Shibui PH makes their pen cases in their leather making factory. Awesome!


Shibui pen cases have their own characteristics — no two pieces are alike and each carries its own look and personality.

The Shibui leather pen case looks beautiful out of the box. The full-grain leather is smooth to touch and has a rich earthy scent. The pen case has excellent stitching and a good quality zipper that is easy to reach. Shibui pen cases are all handcrafted from real leather, and each piece is unique — no two pieces are alike — in appearance and characteristics. I'm excited to see how this pen case will look after several months of use. The leather will surely develop a patina, a character marked by occasional scratches and darkened by the oils from my hand.

The full pen case fits inside my backpack comfortably. It's not too thick because the leather is not padded at all.

During their design process, the creators of Shibui wanted their pen cases to be strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. They thought of making the insides of their pen cases as sturdy and durable as its leather, but still flexible to accommodate different fountain pen sizes without the use of elastic bands. This led to the creation of the most unique feature of Shibui's pen cases — the Pull-Tag™ — an adjustable soft leather band holding the pens securely in their slots inside the pen case. Most pen cases use elastic bands for pen slots, but those become loose and are easily worn out through continued use. Shibui's Pull-Tag™ allows pens in any size and thickness to fit securely in their slots without any risk of pen damage due to tight elastic bands. Anyone who has a Shibui pen case can add and mix different pens safely in their EDCs!


Shibui pen cases are the only pen cases in the market with the Pull-Tag adjustable leather band.
The Pull-Tag replaces elastic bands that turn loose and are easily worn out due to daily use.
The zippers on Shibui's pen cases bear their logo. Love this!
This Shibui pen case accommodates pens in any size and thickness...
...without the risk of pen damage (scratches, cracks) that usually happens due to tight elastic bands. Each pen — thin or thick — fits comfortably in their slots. The leather band looks nice on the pens, too! 
This pen case has compartments, too! There's one which fits a pocket notebook or a small notepad, and two smaller ones for business cards, receipts, or tickets.

During the 2019 Manila Pen Show in November, Shibui PH introduced exclusive and limited edition leather 2-pen cases. The pen cases are made from 100% veg-tanned genuine cowhide leather. The pen cases are available in two variants and color combinations to represent the second pen show in the Philippines. The color scheme, on the other hand, is inspired by the new wave of the milk tea craze that took over the Philippines in 2019. The color combinations are The Classic, which has white leather on the outside, and brown leather on the inside; and The Brown Sugar, with brown leather on the outside, and white leather on the inside. These pen cases are still available from Shibui PH.

Exclusive and limited edition Shibui 2-pen cases for the 2nd Manila Pen Show.
(These 100% veg-tanned pen cases are still available at the Shibui PH website.) Photo from Shibui PH

Shibui PH products are designed and crafted by Filipinos whose vision has always been to create a brand that will promote Filipino leather craftsmanship to the world. Shibui's creators are firm believers of local craftsmanship and their goal is to enrich local industries and compete with other brands on a global stage. They envisioned a brand that will have a strong local and international following because they believe that providing jobs to Filipino leatherworkers means that more families can stay together and will no longer need to look for work overseas. This way, fathers can stay with their children, train them, and pass on the legacy of leather crafting to the next generation, a skill that is slowly fading as next-generation leather workers become interested in other endeavors.

My Shibui pen case's saddle brown leather is a perfect match for my brown Traveler's Notebook!

Aside from this pen case, Shibui offers 3-pen cases, an 8-vial case, Hobo Weeks Cover, A5 or A6 Notebook/Journal Covers, A5 or A6 Life Organizers, Travel Wallet, and Travel Organizer. To see (and buy) these amazing Filipino products, visit the Shibui PH website (https://www.shibuiph.com/).

In the Philippines, Shibui pen cases and other leather products are also available in the following stores: Scribe.ph (SM Aura, Glorietta 4, and Eastwood branches), Analog, Noteworthy (Podium, Rockwell, BGC, and Alabang Town Center branches) and Everything Calligraphy.

And did you know? Shibui PH has now reached the global stage! Overseas, Shibui leather pen cases are available in Malaysia (Pen Gallery), Singapore (Cityluxe), and the United States (Endless Pens). Shibui products will also be in Hong Kong and Korea very, very soon!

The Shibui 5-Pen Case in this review is provided by Shibui PH where it retails for PhP2,650 (~US$65). For more details on purchasing from Shibui PH, visit their website at https://www.shibuiph.com/.

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