Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Review: Filofax 'The Original' A5 Yellow

Hi guys!
Another review for you all!!

I'd like to firstly say thank you to Jess from The Ideas Network for sending me this sample to review, and Steve for his support! P.S. All opinions are my own, and I wasn't paid to do this review!

It arrived in a box, wrapped in some lovely blue tissue paper, with a note. I must say I had already opened the package and unwrapped the Filofax, and then had to rush off to work, so I rewrapped it quickly- it was wrapped much more nicely than it is in this photo!!

I chose the 'Original Yellow' colour because I wanted something a bit different from all of my pink, red and brown Filofaxes! It is a lovely warm colour, very sunny!

The Filofax is wrapped in a plastic covering, as you can see above. This is a new type of Filofax cover which I haven't heard of for any other Filofax, and I don't know if Filofax intend to use this type of cover for all of their new Filofaxes, but I have to say I prefer the traditional boxes. I understand that this cover means that the Filofax can be handled in a shop without the leather being touched too much by people's hands, but I think that if this is the only cover being used to protect the Filofax when posted to you from Filofax directly or by Filofax online stockists, it wouldn't protect the Filofax and the ring mechanism as much as the traditional box!

With the cover off, the leather is gorgeous! It is very smooth and supple, a lot more so than I thought it would be, as I expected it to be stiff, similar to the Domino! There is no cardboard type 'stuffing' inside the leather as there is in other Filofax- just 100% leather! In fact, the leather is made by The Leather Satchel Company, a UK satchel company, so you know if should be great quality leather! You could even get a satchel to match your Original Filofax!
I'm excited by the fact that this Filofax was made in the UK, where the majority of Filofaxes were made in their heyday in the 1980s and 1990s! This is something people have been asking for for a while, so Filofax UK is listening to us, on this and a number of other features I'll talk about later.

The leather is so supple that this Filofax lays perfectly flat... not only that, but...

... it practically bends back on itself without any effort!

The Outside:

I think The Original binder has clean, classic looks. There is definitely a close resemblance between this style and the older Filofax binders of the 1980s and early 1990s, with the simple design, small clasp and button popper, as it is supposed to look like, being called 'The Original'! Many Filofax users love the 'vintage' binders of Filofax's heyday, and I think Filofax are trying to recreate that style to meet their users' desires. I hope that the quality of The Original is as good as the vintage binders!

I really like the button/popper- it has a very classic but cute design, and gold writing, which is a lovely touch to an otherwise plain exterior.

Down the spine you can see the rivets of the ring mechanism, similar to on the Domino.

The Interior:

I think this is the most controversial topic about this Filofax among the Philofaxy community. Many people haven't been impressed by the interior pocket layout, and I have to say I agree with them.

On the front inside cover, there are only two card slots- these are not pockets, because the card goes straight through to the underside of the yellow strip of leather, there's no fabric or leather lining or pocket that the card would sit in.
The elastic band in the middle is divided into three, with two pen loops and a wider 'loop' that is designed for a phone or something similar. In several of their products, Filofax is trying to sell to technology lovers by encouraging smartphone and tablet users to also use their paper products by making it possible to integrate their phone or iPad within a ring binder organiser, such as in the Pennybridge ipad case with ring binder attachment, or this strip in The Original to hold your phone. I'm not sure how effective this elastic strip is- once you insert your phone, you will have a big strip of elastic over your phone's screen/keyboard, so this feature must be designed for phone storage rather than being able to use the phone while in this holder. Also, I tried to insert my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone into the elastic band, but it wouldn't fit, as my phone is quite wide at 7cm, and trying to do this left the elastic almost out of shape- so I think this strap is designed for a narrower phone like the iPhone.
The placement of the pen 'loops' isn't well designed, in my opinion, as the loop on the left is too far inside the binder and the pen pushes down on the divider tabs when the divider is closed, and when a pen is in the right loop, it sits against the middle of the pages and creates a lump, which is especially annoying if trying to write on the left-hand pages when the pen is still in the loop. Moreover, it is difficult to get any cards out of the slots when a pen is in the right loop.

I love this stamped area, which also attests to being 'Made in the UK'.

The layout of the interior back cover is simple, with two slots into which the cover of a 'jot pad' can be slotted. There are two slots, so theoretically you can use the binder upside-down, with the pad on the left for left-handed users, as with the Domino. The slots aren't big enough for to insert a traditional A5 notepad that most A5 Filofaxes come with, however, with some cutting down of the backing card of this A5 notepad, it would be possible to insert an A5 pad!
There's no zip pocket on this Filofax, however in the inserts of this binder, Filofax have included a zip-lock pocket insert.

The cover of this Filofax is 100% leather, and besides the pocket area of the interior, the remainder of the interior is made up of the very smooth underside of the satchel leather. The photo above shows some marks in the leather of this binder, which are barely noticeable!

The ring mechanism on this binder isn't too bad, the 2nd and 3rd rings don't come together completely, but they don't snag on the paper, which is the important thing. I do wonder how the plastic cover will really protect the ring mechanism of The Original binder during transit and shipping!

The Inserts:

There are some very interesting inserts in this Filofax!

The first insert is the flyleaf, which on first glance looks like it has this partial Union Flag design on it, but on closer look it's a plain, regular flyleaf, with the Flag design printed onto paper underneath it.

The dividers are 1-6 blue and green dividers, similar to the ones available in the Chameleon range. Interestingly, there are no A-Z dividers in this Filofax.

The paper inserts in this Filofax are different than inserts available in previous organisers.

The organiser comes with lined white paper, which I suppose is intended to make up for the lack of the lined white notepad. Additionally, they have provided sheets of gridded paper- interestingly, this isn't squared paper like normal, but rectangles! The Filofax also comes with plain paper inserts.

The coloured paper inserts provided are three colours- dark blue, green and pink. I've never seen green coloured A5 paper made by Filofax before, so this is new! In fact, all of the inserts in this Filofax are dated 2013, so they are all new; Filofax isn't just using up its old stock, but making new inserts for us!

The To Do and Contacts pages are white, but are based on the design of the cotton cream personal pages. Members of the Philofaxy community have been asking for cotton cream inserts for the A5 size for ages, because the cotton cream paper is much better quality, and the layout of the cotton cream for personal size diaries are generally better designed than the white diary inserts.

The diary inserts provided in this Filofax are the WO2P horizontal 2013 July to December multilanguage format, and the 2014 WO2P vertical format. It's nice that Filofax would provide 18 months of diary, but I think it's a little strange that they provide two different types of diary! 
The vertical format is based on the cotton cream format with its fonts and non-capitalisation of the names of the days, again on white paper, which is interesting! I've tested this paper briefly with some inky fountain pens, and I must say that, on first look, it looks like it handles ink much better than existing white Filofax paper! I will be doing more paper tests on the inserts provided in this Filofax in another blog post. I would say that Filofax have been listening and trying to carry out Filofax users' wishes for future inserts!

I'm quite pleased that the Filofax comes with a frosted ruler and an ziplock pocket insert. Until recently, I had never seen a frosted ruler for A5, and had to buy two of them in the Conduit Street store because I had never seen them for sale anywhere else. Many people have complained that the black rulers that are typically provided with Filofaxes are annoying because they get in the way and you can't see through them, so it's great that Filofax have started to provide this ruler as standard! It does seem like Filofax are listening to their customers! Also I've never used a Filofax brand ziplock pocket, and as there is no zip pocket in the Filofax itself, it's a great touch that Filofax have provided one in here.

All in all, I really like The Original Filofax Organiser! Filofax have tried hard to listen to their customers and make positive changes, such as manufacturing this Filofax in the UK, using 100% quality leather, and making improvements to their inserts and the accessories they provide with it!

Thanks again to Jess for providing me with this sample of The Original!


  1. I'd like to suggest that if the ring mechanism cannot survive normal shipping and transit it will not likely survive for very long in use either! I note that my Winchester was sold in a simple card sleeve, not a box really at all, and survived for decades plus shipping across the Atlantic Ocean... and has subsequently been toted in stuffed bags, dropped, handled in all sorts of ways, without any impact whatsoever on its ring mechanism.

    I see the appeal of the box, but I think that they may be unnecessary and a waste of resources.

    Great review, Kate. I think you're right on all points. I'm not sure if I could live with a binder which folds back on itself this way. And I certainly am in doubt about the elastic pen loop; I really prefer my pen to be carried outside of the cover, like many of the older binders do. The new design, which holds the pen within the edge of the cover, can cause issues with tabs and is simply less functional (although it makes a cleaner appearance).

  2. Thanks for this review - I'm very excited by this binder as I've been looking for a very minimalist A5 binder for work, as I don't want dozens of wasted credit card slots and zip pockets...I always feel bad when I'm not putting all the pockets to use for some reason. I've tried other systems like the Staples ARC but filofax's A5 size and secure rings can't be beaten in my book (so long as the rings are working, hah). I've ordered one in the rich green and am so excited for its arrival.

  3. I'm happy to see that inserts are being addressed - new colors, more cotton cream, etc. I would love to see some updates for the diary inserts too. Great review!

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  5. I love this color of the Original Filofax in A5, I wish I have the money to pay for it tho.

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  7. I have to say the Original is probably the last Filofax I'd ever thought I'd like, but it's growing on me. I may need to check one out.

    I've also nominated you like a lot of other people. http://littlelifeofandrea.com/2013/05/17/liebster-blog-award-nomination/

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  9. Great review thanks, I was wanting this in Brown but now i'm going more towards the yellow. The only thing that is still putting me off is the Elastic strap on the inside i'm not sure at all, hopefully I could live with it because I love the binder otherwise and I personally don't have much need for loads of credit card slots. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out on this one!!

  10. I love the idea that the Leather Satchel Co are making the Original.... possibly Filofax might allow us to match our Filofaxes to the Satchel and not just the other way round (red, please!)
    Interesting review. Still not absolutely sold on the design, unless I need a plain inside.

  11. Thanks for a great review, Kate :)
    I think I'd get one of these if I didn't already have my A5 Holborn zip. Bit of a disappointment that two of the rings aren't great though...

  12. Hi, Kate!

    I like the idea of the box, too! Not so much for the added protection like you mentioned but more so for the excitement of getting it in the mail, opening it up, and seeing your lovely new Filofax peeking out at you from inside the tissue paper. Like opening a present!

    Anyway, I love this yellow. I'd definitely consider this color should I decide to purchase one. The only thing that really makes me second guess it all are those darn pen loops. Don't know if I quite like them yet. Overall, great review!

    Carla from www.yayforfridays.com

  13. je ne suis pas convaincue de la qualité du cuir... ! il parait sympa, la couleur jaune très jolie... mais entre l'emballage et les fentes pour cartes, pour stylos, filofax va au plus simple dans ce modèle qui a du être très facile et économique de conception. Je serai curieuse d'en voir un un jour.. peut être je l'achèterai. Il est beau. merci pour les photos.. Nati Zou ;-)

  14. Thanks for this post, the colour is so nice and the fact that it lays flat like that is a huge plus for me! I already have the pink fluorescent in personal size but doesn't lay as flat. I LOVE the originals!!!

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  19. I would like to know more about the yellow color, is a mustardy yellow, or dark? Thanks!

    1. I find it difficult to describe, but it isn't a dark yellow!

  20. I too bought a beautiful bright sunshine yellow Original but I had to return it. The top ring had a gap of 1-2mm and caught the pages. I was so disappointed - this was the first brand new filofax I have purchased since the 90s and the yellow was sooooo lovely.