It is no secret that Midori (now called Traveler’s Company*) does not like the fact that there are inspirations or interpretations of their covers (often called fauxdoris, though I prefer not to use this term myself, because I don’t feel they are faux anything. I tend to just say TN cover if it is not a Midori). Midori have been very clear about their disdain for people who make similar covers to their own, and refuse to sell refills anywhere that does not sell their covers.
I own several genuine Midori covers (brown, blue, black, camel, airport edition) but actually prefer the other versions. I do not feel I am buying fakes by buying them (though purists would not agree). Why?
- I am not a fan of the Midori leather – it is too soft and too easily marked for me. I like really thick leather (9oz belt leather is my favourite) that can take a bashing.
- I prefer pebbly leather.
- I don’t like the closure hole to be placed in the back cover. I prefer it on the spine. I also don’t like the protruding metal disk that the genuine Midori has.
- The covers are too small for me – I like up to 12 elastics (14 notebooks) in my cover and the Midori (with its two elastics) is designed for, at the most, 4.
- I like square spines like Terri at Speckled Fawns does, because it keeps the insert booklets flush against the cover.
- I prefer other sizes of cover – primarily A5 and personal. But you can also find regular size wide/Moleskine cahier, micro, pocket, Field Notes, A6, B5, B6, and even A4 – sizes that are not offered by Midori, who only offer passport and regular size covers.
- I like the different options offered by other cover makers – clasps (studs, straps, flaps), carved, painted, integral pen loops, internal pockets, external pockets, embossing, credit card slots, tooling, themed, stitched, trifold, quadfold, personalisation, combination Hobonichi/TN/Filofax covers.
- Van Der Spek offers custom covers (called Nomads) with 60 different leathers and all kinds of personalisation options such as secretarial pockets and rows of credit card slots. So you can have one to match your organiser.
- Gillio offers the Giramondo in the same shades and leathers as their organisers. How could you not drool over a notebook cover in their beloved and so very special epoca leather! My favourite would be gold or purple.
- For people who do not use leather products, there are plenty of non-leather notebook covers out there. Midori only offer leather covers.
- For TN users who cannot afford to buy covers, they are easy enough to make from found materials. Tutorials are easy to find on YouTube.
The same goes for inserts. I love the genuine Midori plastic pockets and pouches, their calendars, Kraft folders and their lightweight inserts. I also have rulers, stencils and a pencil case by Midori as well as several of their notebooks and some paperclips. But when it comes to specialised inserts, you can find plenty of them on Etsy – weight trackers, time management systems, reading lists, project management inserts, bullet management notebooks, and many more. Midori themselves could NEVER do things like DIYfish does with her time management inserts!
I don’t feel any of these other cover or refill artisans are encroaching on Midoris territory. Many people have always and will always prefer the original. Many have moved over from the inspirations to the original. Many use both. And many others who use ‘fauxdoris’ would never have bought Midori anyway because it would not suit their needs. I honestly think the market is big enough for everyone and each area brings customers to the other areas as well, as they search for what suits them.
One thing I really like is that the makers of covers are often artisans who work on a small scale. Van Der Spek and Gillio are both small family-owned companies. Chic Sparrow has moved from Etsy to her own site but is still very much a cottage industry, providing personal support to her customers and interacting in the Chic Sparrow Facebook group. You have Yochanan Israel from Zenkraft (who produces what can only be called portable desks!), and Monique Vanmeulebrouk from Lady Falcon producing outstanding work. Paper flower’s Glenda Slann specialises in themed notebook covers. And the other artisans often combine their work with a regular job. There is no mass production on an industrial scale and I think that is fantastic.
My favourite size is the personal. Probably because I am a user of Filofax personal-sized organisers and the size is optimal. Not too big and not too small. My favourite style has lots of elastics (8-12), holds up to 16 books and has inside and preferably outside pockets. Once I started using covers with pockets, I will never go back.
I think each one enhances rather than detracts from the other. I mainly use Midori refills in other covers but I also have original Midori covers. I use them together with a Filofax, who, incidentally, are in the same position with Filofax-compatible binders or inserts being readily available from several different companies ranging in size from small to enormous.
One thing I do really admire, is that Midori, unlike Filofax and Moleskine, have not sold out and diluted their brand in favour of trends and fashion. They have stuck to the tried and true, their heritage. The most they do is bring out the odd different limited edition colours and themes in the same sizes, with the same inserts. I hope they continue to do this because so few brands do. So many of them (Alexander Wang, Botkier, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors) started out with a small, loyal niche market but then sold out and were forced by their boards to capitalise on their popularity by flooding the market with cheaper versions, collaborations and they alienate their core market.
And, as far away from Midori while still being a Traveler’s Notebook as anyone can get…. Tony Mo’s Tough Old Boots! I have been in love with these for ages and ages! Are they not EPIC? Here is Tony’s Tough Old Boots Instagram. Those briefcases are so beautiful I want to weep!
*TRAVELER’S COMPANY consists of TRAVELER’S notebook, BRASS PRODUCTS, SPIRAL RING NOTEBOOK and other related products. We also own and run the shop TRAVELER’S FACTORY. All these products share the theme of traveling that takes place in one’s daily life. In order to pursue and enrich this theme, we changed the brand name from “MIDORI” to “TRAVELER’S COMPANY” in 2015. Through this change and the notebook we make, we would like to propose a journey where one can express themselves freely.