10 Jan 2013

aspinal of london purple croc compact A5 organiser

Filofax tried really hard to combine fashion and functionality with their Temperley for London collaboration. Truth be told, I did love The Affair. However, it wasn't functional - I mean, the rings were dodgy after a few months of use!? (And some would also argue that it isn't fashionable, but each to their own!) And I think I've found a brand that does both fashion and functionality brilliantly, and without alienating their core customers too.

Aspinal of London.

When I first ordered this organiser, it arrived with major flaws and damaged rings. Let me explain.

The major flaws were in the leather - there were scrapes and whatnot and I tried to get rid of them using a slightly damp cloth, but to no avail. There were about five or six scrapes and this was not something I expected. With the rings, one of the pins keeping the rings in place and on the binder had come off altogether! See what I mean:

This meant that the bottom half of the rings were hanging off the binder. I contacted customer services about this with pictures attached and they offered me a replacement after sending this one back.

However, I sent it back and I didn't hear anything for days and that's when I emailed to find out what was going on - only to be told that it had been processed as a return instead of an exchange! Annoying, right? And to re-order, I had to give my credit card details over the phone and that is something I am reluctant to do (for some reason, I think doing it over the internet is a bit safer?). Anyway, I took pictures of the faulty binder before sending it back as I hadn't noticed this flaw until I opened the rings to move in!

I am gutted that the order didn't work out as I really did fall in love with this organiser - but due to a mis-communication between the customer services team, I did not receive the replacement. I am not sure if this will be the last time I will order from them, but certainly, at the moment, I do still have that 'raw disappointment' feeling and so, do not see myself buying anything from them - in person or online. Can you imagine if the product became faulty before the warranty was up? That is one good thing about Filofax - their customer service has always been top-notch.

Furthermore, all of this happened in the run-up to Christmas - a time when I was incredibly stressed and could have done without all this, so I hope you can understand my frustration! It was a time when nothing was going right and this really didn't help.

Anyway, as promised, here are pictures and a review (quite brief as I was expecting to do a full review after the replacement arrived).


So without further ado, let me introduce the Aspinal of London Purple Croc and Cream Suede Compact A5 personal organiser (what a mouthful, eh). The colour is more of a deep purple, rather than the Osterley purple:

When you open it up, you are greeted with this sight and on the left hand side, there is a slip pocket and also some card slots.

The rings are 26mm and although it would have been better for them to have been gold in colour, I think the silver fits in really well with the design:

And on the right, this is what you'll see: a pen holder and another slip pocket:

One thing to note is the detailing; the clasp isn't a button one and there is a small 'coat of arms' on the top right of the front cover of the organiser. This little shield does look a bit wonky, but I haven't seen other organisers to compare this.

I really love the suede and leather contrast, and the ring size adds that something extra. I honestly think that this organiser is the perfect balance between fashion and usability. I definitely would not be ashamed to whip this out of my bag in public (in fact, I would be quite proud to do so!) and because it isn't as common as a Filofax, I feel like I would love it all the more.

Moreover, the price is about the same as some of the higher end Filofax organisers and I feel like this one is of superior quality! The suede contrast adds that bit of luxury, and the purple croc colour introduces a bit of fashion to, what some would regard as, a trivial thing: a diary.

I've become more and more disillusioned with Filofax in recent months but still have not found my perfect organiser. A perfect organiser would be one that I love (like this one) but has been made by a company that provides brilliant service (which, unfortunately, Aspinal have not done on this ocassion).

Last words: the leather is beautiful. It is stiff enough to feel sturdy, but not so stiff that it doesn't lie flat! And the smell is awesome. Honestly, this definitely feels more luxurious than a Filofax and with the cost similar to the higher end organisers offered by Filofax, I feel this could be one of the options people could go for instead. Maybe I just had a bad experience with regards to the customer service but it is enough for me to keep looking for another company that makes Filofax-insert compatible organisers. I guess it just wasn't meant to be between myself and an Aspinal binder and, judging by what happened after, it seemed that a better thing was around the corner (more on this in two weeks!).

In another post, I will be taking a closer look at the inserts (I ordered a few packs of these too, though they are not of the Aspinal brand) and how different pens and ink look on them. So stay tuned for that!


  1. Oh wow, what a beauty! So far I'm still very loyal to my Malden, but this may be something to consider!

    1. The suede contrast is lovely. If it wasn't for the fact that the rings were like this (they arrived like this! The pin was somewhere else in the parcel!) and that the leather had scrapes all over it, I might have settled for re-ordering but it just wasn't to be. I'm posting what I am using instead on the 23rd so sit tight :D x

  2. If I may ask: why did you decide to stop using your Filofax? You were such a source of inspiration to all of us! I sincerely hope you will resume your love story with Filofax or at least find the organiser of your dreams (and let us know about it!).
    Eager to read more about your search for the ideal organiser! N x

    1. I was just getting more frustrated with the quality of the binders - the leather wasn't long-lasting (the best case scenario for me was just over a year), the ring mechanisms were bad and I just didn't like how nothing seemed to be improving. It felt like things were getting worse and that nothing was getting better :/

      I have found the organiser of my dreams :) it will be blogged about in just under two weeks' now, not to worry ;) x

  3. I love the binder! Gorgeous!

    Interesting that you prefer to leave credit card info over the internet; I always felt somewhat more secure doing that over the telephone!

    I see that the Aspinal has a "Bender's" ring mechanism, I am familiar with this manufacturer from working with their mechanisms at work (many legal books are published in looseleaf format with regular updates in ring binders) and from my Success Choice binder I bought last year. Every Bender's mechanism I've encountered works beautifully and precisely. Too bad you received a dud! I still wonder if no one at these companies bothers to take a quick look in the box before mailing out the product? Perhaps if you ever wanted to buy another you could go buy it from the store instead of via mail order? I always prefer to do this if at all possible, I really like to look over the actual unit I'm purchasing.

    Looking forward to seeing whatever you actually are using!

    I am totally in love with my Winchester but will try out a Franklin Covey binder I bought recently as I'd like to try out their inserts, which have great formats for my needs, are said to be high quality paper, and have a usefully wider page. So I may be out of Filofax too. But I might just end up trimming down the FC inserts to fit into the Winchester!

    1. It is a lovely binder! I'm sure the Amazona croc one is just as lovely, if not better due to the gold rings. Oh, it sounds like I was unlucky with the ring mechanism then! :( I'm tempted to look at one instore; but I'm currently using something else and am quite happy in it.

      I totally get the bigger sheets and higher quality paper - if Franklin Covey inserts weren't so expensive (they are considerably more than Filofax ones if I'm not wrong), I would be tempted to try them. I've never come across a store that does their stuff either, and when I'm just buying paper refills, I'd prefer to buy them in person to save on postage. Hope the FC experiment works for you - after all, it does have gold rings! :) x

  4. Ooh yay! I've been waiting for the big unveiling! Such a lovely binder, shame about the dud though! :( I'm still in love with my finchley, although I do wish they did bigger 30mm rings :/

    1. Hehe, the big unveiling hasn't come yet! The post will go live on the 23rd of January :-) 30mm rings sound heavenly at the moment. Funny how I've swung the opposite way from using a Slimline to wanting much, much bigger rings x

  5. I don't think it is you and customer services. I would recommend anybody visit their reviews on Review Centre to see what Aspinal are like. I have just had a poor experience with them too...never again will I purchase from them, and I would urge others to avoid them too.