FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARDsureshjain.com
If you’re a long-time reader of The Pencilcase Blog, you may remember a review I did about five years ago, of a product from a new South African company called Frara Road. Back then, I reviewed their Pen Roll (find the original review HERE): a cleanly-executed, well-thought-out leather pen roll made from a beautifully soft brown distressed leather.
In the years that followed, it remained a bit silent from the people at Frara Road, and the brand, unfortunately, remained in the background, despite having an – IMHO at least- excellent product on their hands with the Pen Roll! So you could say I was quite pleasantly surprised when Jamie (one of the two brothers who run Frara Road) reached out to me again a few months ago, to ask if I was interested in checking out their new product: A store-exclusive version of the Pen Roll, created in collaboration with one of our sponsors, Casa Della Stilografica!
The result of Frara Road’s and Stilografica’s collaboration is The Pen Roll Mustard. This special edition stands out from the crowd (not hard to see why!) with its wonderfully bright warm-yellow leather. The name Mustard is aptly chosen, though I find the color mostly reminiscent of a bright and sunny Italian summer day! Admittedly, if you know me you’ll know that the joyful and cheery yellow color of the Pen Roll Mustard is perhaps not the first color I’d choose. But it’s hard to deny that I get a little smile on my face every time I pick it up. And as an added bonus: it’s very easy to find (even from a mile away)!
The leather on the Mustard is a beautiful and pristine full-grain leather with a nice texture. It’s a bit of a departure from the more distressed and tough-looking brown leather on the original Pen Roll, but it’s every bit as supple and soft to the touch. The Mustard leather does seem to be ever-so-slightly thicker than on the original, which makes it just a little trickier to roll up neatly.
The closure system that Frara Road created for the Pen Roll remains a very clever and simple one that I enjoy using. The strap is sturdy and stays neatly out of the way when you don’t need it. Again here, the slightly thicker leather of the Mustard seems to want to unroll and open up just a bit more than the original did. Although with more use, I assume it’ll break in and become easier to close.
Construction quality of the Pen Roll Mustard is excellent, just like the original. Edges of the case aren’t polished but the cuts are clean and precise. I’d perhaps say that the stitching on this newer case is a bit neater and more deliberately positioned, compared to the original case I reviewed five years ago, but the difference is all in all quite minimal. Just like with the original, I would’ve liked to see some extra reinforcement stitches around the loop for the closure strap, as it does stretch out a bit when you tighten the closure.
|L to R: Montblanc 149, Visconti Homo Sapiens, Pelikan M805, Leonardo Art Deco 2021, Leonardo Furore, Lamy 2000|
The Frara Road Pen Roll is a fairly space-efficient way to carry around six of your pens, and the rolled-up form factor makes it particularly easy to hold in your hand on the go. In my original review of the Pen Roll, I mentioned that pens as large as a Montblanc 149 can fit comfortably, but in hindsight, that was still a rather conservative size indication. Especially nowadays, where we’re seeing increasingly larger oversized pens hit the market, the Pen Roll still holds up very well. Even one of the largest pens in my collection, the Leonardo Momento Zero Grande Art Deco 2021 – a whopping 15.8cm long pen! – still fits comfortably.
If you look at the above image, all pens, even those very large ones, are nicely tucked into the slots so there’s no chance of them scratching each other. The clips can be attached over the leather, though the slots are roomy enough to accommodate the entire pen with clip.
The back of the leather on the inside of the case is very soft and plushy, so there’s no risk of it scratching your pens. The leather also has a certain ‘grippy’ quality to it, so pens inside don’t slide up and down in the slots. Even smaller and thinner pens will – for the most part – stay quite firmly in place and won’t always slide down to the bottom of the case.
|All neatly tucked away!|
One of the downsides about the Frara Road Pen Roll that I also brought up in my original review, is that it takes up a considerable amount of desk space when opened up – about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. It looks tidy when you have it opened, though: the top flap folds back to get out of your way, and the closure strap is attached in a way that it naturally lies underneath the roll.
I raved about the original, and the Frara Road x Stilografica exclusive Pen Roll Mustard scores equally high marks: It’s a beautifully designed and produced case, the quality of the leather is fantastic, and it remains an excellent option to properly protect your pens. – Only, now it also comes in a bright and cheery yellow!
The Frara Road x Stilografica Pen Roll Mustard retails for 95€ (or around 85$ without VAT from Stilografica. Use discount code ‘Firenze’ for 10% off!), which is the same price as the regular brown and black versions. While that’s a bit more expensive than they used to be 5 years ago, it’s still an excellent value proposition in my opinion. Now having Frara Road’s products available from a reputable European retailer also helps in making them a bit more accessible, which is nice. But I hope to see them become more easily available in other corners of the world, also.
Note: This product was provided by Frara Road, free of charge, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.