Loyal Stricklin Front Pocket Wallet Review – $89.99

There are countless different types of front pocket wallets available, but few are as good as the one from Loyal Stricklin. Michael Stricklin started the company for a reason we hear a lot around here; he was tired of only having low quality goods available. Michael and his small band of artisans took it upon themselves to set things right and they nailed it. All of their products are meticulously handmade in an old railway depot in Opelika, AL using only US sourced materials to create simple, functional pieces of art that will serve their owners well for many years to come.

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Construction

The construction of the wallet is impeccable. Loyal Stricklin uses tried-and-true Horween Dublin leather, heavy-duty stitching, and durable hardware and finishes the wallet off with clean, burnished edges. After a month of daily use and close inspection, I couldn’t find any faults in the build quality.

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Function

I have always really loved the idea of front pocket wallets, especially for travel, but due to their size, I never found them practical for everyday use, that is, until this one. Loyal Stricklin has developed a design that easily fits in the front pocket and carries all the cash, cards, and all of the miscellaneous stuff that I carry in my everyday wallet.

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So how does Loyal Stricklin do this? First they made the wallets primary function as a card holder. The pocket is nice and wide so that I can easily fit up to ten different cards into it and once the flap is secured; there is no possible way for any cards to fall out of the wallet. The cash is held in by a tight flap on the back of the wallet. Even the flap has a small pocket that I have found useful for stashing a house key, a useful and necessary feature since I often lock myself out.

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Although this wallet has become my everyday carrier, there are just a few things that I wish were different. The first is the button clasp’s size. The large button creates a bulge that is sometimes noticeable when worn in the back pocket, but’s only a problem when sitting in uncushioned seats for an extended amount of time.

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Overall, this is not an issue and I definitely wouldn’t trade the bulge for a less durable clasp. The second issue is the money pocket. It takes a little bit of effort to get cash into the slot and if you try to fit anything more than five or six bills into it, you have to accept having some of the money sticking out. I never carry more than twenty dollars on me so this has never been an problem.

Aesthetic

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The Loyal Stricklin Front Pocket Wallet has a lot of character without being ridiculous looking. As stated before, it has a very slim profile, slimmer than a small smartphone, which makes it comfortable and natural to wear in a front pocket. The leather has a rich brown color that has quickly developed a lovely patina, especially around the button. My favorite aspect is the inclusion of dark blue stitching rather than black. It gives the wallet a subtle flare that I haven’t had in any other wallet.

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Conclusion

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This is one sweet wallet. The exceptional build quality and design create a wallet that secures cards better than the traditional variety and provides pockets for both cash and other small items while keeping the profile slim. Although it is priced higher than most other wallets, quality, character, and utility of the wallet justifies the cost. It definitely is built for people who use credit cards as their main form of payment so if you carry a lot of cash, this may not be for you. If not, this wallet will serve you well for many years to come.

Check out this wallet and other great gear from Loyal Stricklin here! While you’re at it, see what the team is up to on Instagram!

Bison No. 2 Wallet in Navy Review – $65

Bison has been hard at work over this past year upgrading and adding to their online store of top notch American made leather goods. Since their iPhone 5 Leather Wallet was first reviewed in February, the Bison workshop has put out some new materials and colors to their growing collections. I was lucky enough to get my hands on their popular No. 2 Wallet in their newest leather option – Horween Chromexcel in Navy.

CONSTRUCTION

Like all Bison goods, this bad boy is made of the best of American leather using precise hand techniques and strict quality control.  The leather used in the construction of the No. 2 Wallet is sourced from the Chromexcel leather line of the Horween Leather Company in Chicago, Illinois or the English Bridle leather line of the Hermann Oak tannery in St. Louis Missouri. Each piece is hand constructed with only a single piece of prime leather gently folded and stitched together to create two separate compartments. There are no linings, rubber, or glue. The stitching comes with Bison’s lifetime warranty of course. All together, this wallet measures in at a sleek 3.7” × 2.5” × .1”.

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FUNCTION

This sleek wallet is designed to be minimalistic and slim – perfect for a night out or when you don’t want that awkward bulge protruding from your pant pocket. There’s really not much more to say about function because it does what it’s supposed to. It holds things.

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AESTHETIC

While the No. 2 wallet holds things in, Bison’s packaging holds nothing back. There are no cost-cutting measures when it comes to the multi-layer packaging and production.

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For something so small, you would think there’s not much to say, but here is where this wallet really stands out. The design is so simple, but you would have to be blind to miss the many little added touches that demonstrate the precision of the craftsmanship. The stitching is flawless, the edges are cut impeccably, and the weight balance is perfect. Don’t forget to look inside and catch the flash of the Bison emblem emblazoned in gold on the side.

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This particular Navy color, unique to Horween Chromexcel, is sophisticated and dressy, but has just enough pop to add some edge. There are 9 other colors if you can’t decide on just one (natural, golden tan, cognac, burgundy, brown, whisky, malbec, jet top stitch, and jet.)

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BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Bison No. 2 Wallet in Navy  for $65 is a must-have for Horween leather lovers. For everyone else, there are nine other color options to choose from. The decision to get this slim wallet is as simple as its design. With its sophisticated packaging and classic design, the No. 2 wallet is a well-priced gift option for you or a loved one this coming season.

 

Origins Leather Company The Simple Wallet Review – $45

For those avid readers of BestLeather.org, you’ll recognize the name, Origins Leather Company.  We recently did a review on their Classic Briefcase, and followed that review with a giveaway of the same briefcase.  The giveaway was extremely well received with over 14,000 entries, the best giveaway that BestLeather has had to date.  After the giveaway we knew that Origins had a unique recipe for producing quality goods.  That special recipe is quite simple, like many goods recipes are.  They use very high quality vegetable tanned leather and thread, crafted by experts with a high degree of precision, into a good that is practicable and useful.  That recipe is also used for their Simple Wallet, which we’ll take a look at in this review.

LEATHER

In the Classic Leather Briefcase review, I wrote that the leather Origins uses “feels as good as butter tastes”.  That same leather is used for their Simple Wallet and it feels just as great.  It is a little difficult to describe, but the leather has a soft but substantial feel.  You immediately recognize that the leather is the type that will last a long time (Origins offers a 100 year warranty on all of their products by the way), but has a certain luxury to it as well.  Origins uses a five ounce leather, which is boot leather thickness.  The leather is also slightly burnished on all edges, which gives the edges a nice finish, and it comes in a beautiful chestnut color.

The inside of the wallet is unlined, which allows you to appreciate a different element of the fine leather.  You really don’t need a wallet to have a liner of course, but I also appreciate bags and other goods that are unlined.  There is something about the underside of finished leather that is tactile and fulfills some sensory need to fully appreciate the raw material something is made from.  In other words, I like how it feels.  There certainly are some applications where having a liner of some variety is appropriate, and often it is used for aesthetic purposes, but when it’s not completely necessary, I say let it be.  Perhaps it is because I am a leather purist at heart.  When you use leather as nice as Origins, this certainly is a great way to produce your products.

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DESIGN

The Simple Wallet is as its name implies – simple.  It has one open compartment for stashing your cards and bills.  You can fit at least 10 cards along with some bills comfortably, so it has ample room for what most people need.  The top flap slides securely into the attached strap and the wallet can fit nicely into either a front or back pocket.  When opened, you will notice a small scoop that allows for easier grasping of your cards or bills.

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The Simple Wallet is made from four pieces of leather.  The main body and flap are made from one solid piece, one piece for each side, and the front strap.  Its construction reminds me of how many quality messenger bags are made.  The two side pieces are sewn to the main body with a small flap on bottom of each side piece riveted to the bottom of the wallet.  This manner of construction produces a very hardy and durable wallet and forces the wallet to have a more open pocket.  This could be a benefit to some as it makes sliding cards in and out easier, and also provides more room for additional cards and bills, but could be a drawback to some as it produces a wider footprint.  The rivets at the bottom prevents the wallet from flattening out completely, especially if you only had a couple of cards and wanted a slimmer profile for example.  This makes the wallet a full half inch in width, and provides a rigid bottom, but that is still slimmer than many wallets.

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THREAD AND HARDWARE

The only hardware to speak of on the wallet are the two previously mentioned rivets.  They are approximately 1/4 inch in diameter, with a dark antique finish, and are solid brass.

The thread is a marine grade polyester thread with a brown color that matches the wallet nicely.  Polyester thread is three to four times as strong as nylon thread, and will not fade when exposed to sunlight.  It is some of the best thread that can be used for high quality leather goods.

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BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

In a world with ever increasing options for minimalistic wallets, the Simple Wallet from Origins Leather Company is a very strong contender.  Made with some of the best leather I’ve seen, leather that is struck through (dyed to the core of the leather), is beautiful to see and feel, and crafted with precision and attention to detail, the Simple Wallet is an excellent choice for those seeking a simpler approach to carrying their daily essentials.

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Waskerd Madison 3-Pocket Slim Wallet – $75

The Waskerd Madison 3-Pocket Slim Wallet arrived at my doorstep about mid-September. After opening up the attractive packaging and inspecting this fine looking, well-put-together wallet, it was quickly “claimed” by my oldest son. It’s a tough crowd here in my house when it comes to leather products. My crew sees a lot of leather come through and when they jump on something, it means it’s a good piece.

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About Waskerd

We’re not strangers to Derek Shaw and his Waskerd Leather creations. BestLeather has reviewed a couple of his wallets in the past: the Pinnell Money Clip Wallet and the Slim Strayer Wallet. Recently Derek relocated to Norfolk, VA from Philadelphia, PA and has continued his business there.

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Construction

As with Waskerd’s other wallets, the Madison is made from thick, full grain leather. And, it sports the heavy gauge, waxed polyester thread that has become a hallmark of Derek’s designs. The stitching is all done by hand and is impeccable. At common stress points, the stitching is reinforced. Derek also offers your choice of seven thread colors on all of his wallets. On this particular wallet, we chose black, which I think creates a clean, classy look for the wallet.

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Function

Prior to my son snatching this piece from me, I was able to load the wallet up to test its capacity. With two pockets on the inside and one external pocket, it can carry all of your wallet essentials with ease. I was able to easily keep two cards in the outside pocket (my license and debit card) and 3 cards in each of the internal pockets. If I had the luxury of having cash on hand, I would have easily been able to accommodate several bills as well.

True to its name, this wallet offers a very slim profile. My son often carries this wallet in his front pocket as well as letting it reside comfortably in a rear pocket on occasion.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a fan of a wallet sitting on a countertop that looks all swelled up and overstuffed. The natural tendency of the Madison wallet’s design keeps it closed and maintains a natural profile – even when you have it at maximum capacity.

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Aesthetic

When you feast your eyes upon this slim little wallet, it becomes immediately apparent that it has been crafted with passion. It’s expertly cut, trimmed and sewn. Attention to detail is a priority and it is apparent from every angle when viewing this wallet.

When you pick it up, the feel and texture of the full grain leather adds tactile confirmation of Waskerd’s dedication to quality.

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This little wallet catches people’s eyes too. My son has received multiple comments on the look and design of the Madison 3-Pocket Slim Wallet. When cashiers or wait staff notice a wallet (they see dozens upon dozens of them everyday) and they comment on it – that speaks volumes about it.

Waskerd’s stitched logo is also nice, eye-catching component that gets commented upon frequently. The stitched logo is a nice touch and is certainly a unique hallmark for the brand.

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Conclusion

The Waskerd Madison 3-Pocket Slim Wallet is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a wallet that can be carried in casual or semi-formal situations where you want the option of carrying it in a front or rear pocket. It’s solidly crafted, by hand, using top quality materials, and will endure for decades while maintaining a great look and feel. At $75, it’s a great purchase. Along with the Madison 3-Pocket Slim Wallet, Derek also has several other wallet designs. Be sure to check them all out on the Waskerd website.

Tagsmith Leather Bifold Wallet – $54

At BestLeather, we see a great deal of wallets. Do we tire of seeing and using them? Well…no. It’s amazing how many variations of a wallet or billfold there are out there. They range from simple to exotic and everything in-between. I’m still on a quest to find “the one” that truly fits the bill for me. And, I’m getting close…really close. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I like simplicity. The Tagsmith Leather Bifold Wallet is an excellent example of simplicity in the crowded wallet market. Continue reading “Tagsmith Leather Bifold Wallet – $54”

Mr. Lentz Traditional Minimal Leather Wallet Review – $64

“Under Pressure” – The classic Queen song should be the theme song for all wallets. Think about it. A wallet spends 98% of its time in your back pocket, squished by your butt…under pressure. So, with all of that pressure its under, you better be sure it’s a well built wallet. Let me introduce you to the Minimal Leather Wallet from Mr. Lentz. Continue reading “Mr. Lentz Traditional Minimal Leather Wallet Review – $64”

Southwind Leather Two Slot Cardholder Review – $34

Wallets are everywhere and they’re made from just about every type of material known to man. So, what’s the deal with highlighting yet another wallet here on BestLeather? Well, we keep finding unique ones that stand out for one reason or another. Such is the case with the Two Slot Cardholder from Southwind Leather.

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About Southwind Leather

Southwind Leather, based in the United Kingdom, is the progeny of Dan Mroz. Dan hails from the southern part of England and has been fully immersed in leather crafting since 2012. BestLeather featured one of his excellent Bridle Leather Belts not that long ago.

All of Dan’s pieces are hand cut and hand sewn – he does not use any machines in the production of his crafts.

Construction

The Southwind Two Slot Cardholder received for testing features french buffalo calfskin in an attractive shade of color called rosewood. The leather is really incredible – super thin, tight grained, yet supple and looks to offer many years of wear. It also has a slightly waxy finish that offers up a luxurious sheen.

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The two slot cardholder is an appealing piece. In a not close up view, it looks fantastic. When you get up close and examine it though, it’s apparent that it’s handmade. This appearance can elicit two contrasting reactions: initially there will be those folks who will downplay it because the stitching isn’t perfectly even and the leather isn’t trimmed proportionally on both sides while others will look at this and appreciate it for just those same features, which quickly identify it as totally handmade.

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Function

This is not a large wallet at all. It’s very small to be exact. I have found myself using this exclusively for “date nights” with my wife. When we go out, I only need a couple of cards on me: my debit card, a credit card, my license, and some cash. So, in that role, it functions perfectly. I would be hard pressed to use it daily, as I just simply can’t fit everything in it. I don’t think I’d try to carry more than 5, maybe 6 cards total in it. If you’re a true minimalist, this might be just the wallet for you. The Southwind Leather Two Slot Cardholder is also an excellent business card holder. It will hold about 10-12 business cards easily between the two slots.

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In the role I’ve assigned to it, it’s splendid. It’s got a great feel to it. I often find myself just fiddling with it because of the calfskin leather’s feel. I’d be a happy man if I could get a chair made with this leather…wow, that would feel great!

Aesthetic

I’ve been on somewhat of a journey with the way this little wallet looks. When it came out of the box the first time, my initial reaction was, “wow, it’s great”. Then, I looked at it a little closer. The stitching and the uneven trim caught my eye and became a turn off. Now, I look at it and think, wow…that’s some small stitching and it’s all done by hand…I’m impressed and could never come close to doing that myself.”

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I appreciate what Dan has created here and think it’s a solid little piece. I’m sure as Dan continues to refine his craft that his stitching will get even better. Leatherwork is a journey and skills take time to be sharpened and refined. And, I’m okay with that. What I have is a uniquely crafted piece of uber-quality leather molded into a useful little wallet that I get to enjoy every time I take my wife out or attend a more formal function where I don’t want to carry a full sized wallet.

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Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, the Southwind Leather Two Slot Cardholder is a pretty small option to serve as an every day wallet (unless you are a hardcore minimalist). But, I believe that it is a great contender for a more formal, special occasion wallet. It’s fashioned from some really luxurious leather and it’s 100% handmade. At $34, it’s not going to break your budget either…so, you’ll definitely have a few bucks to fold up and put into it. And while you’re putting it in your Southwind Leather Two Slot Cardholder, you’ll enjoy the feel of that awesome leather too.

*Dan is also offering a great special right now exclusively to BestLeather readers (thank you Dan). Use this code, SPECIAL 10, during checkout on his site and you’ll receive 10% off of your entire purchase. Enjoy!

Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Geometric Wallet Review – $605

be·spoke [ bi-ˈspōk ] – made to order: made to a customer’s specifications

Half-British. Half-Iranian. All Canadian. Andrew Diba is a British Columbian luxury bespoke leather designer who will personally meet with each of his customers to create any design that both he and the customer would be proud to own. No kits, instruction manual, or YouTube videos here – Andrew Diba has spent over five years in self-motivated learning through his own trial and error, an apprenticeship with a Budapest shoemaker, and designing and producing his own goods for house brands. To break through the limitations of price point and quantity, he has more recently branched out on his own, creating Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba to focus on the essentials of crafting instead of business.

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CONSTRUCTION

The Geometric Wallet is one of Andrew Diba’s flagship innovative designs. The design incorporates more pocket space while keeping it slim and interesting. This particular custom wallet is made with only two pieces from a single pristine high-grade juvenile American alligator skin chrome-tanned in Italy. The cutting of the skin is thoughtfully designed to maximize scale placement. The inner triangle is cut out from the (eh-hem) genital area where the scales coalesce into smaller rings for an attractive viewing window. There is lining even in the hidden slots, made from Australian kangaroo tanned in Italy and for good reason. Kangaroo provides the strongest leather for any given thickness, insuring lifelong durability and hold to the wallet’s shape. The inner leather is a terracotta vegetable-tanned Sokoto goatskin from Nigeria using unique tanning agents from the Bagaruwa tree (a.k.a. Acacia Arabica) which is then tanned again in the UK with Sumac. All imported exotic skins are sustainable leather sources and CITES-labelled and approved.


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Everything at Neo Nouveau is 100% hand-stitched to 10 stitches/inch by Andrew Diba with traditional saddle-making techniques and French linen threads. Because exotic leathers are frequently chrome-tanned, the edges cannot simply be burnished. This particular finish is hand-sanded and melted, re-sanded, and repeated several times using special French waxy edge paint with a six-month shelf-life. After six months, even if only a drop has been used, the rest is thrown away. No cutting corners here. This extra effort to find the optimal edge paint is to maximize the range of available colors while providing much more durability and water resistance. Finishing can take up to several days but the waxy edge doesn’t have the typical unnatural or plastic look and is much less likely to separate at folded edges due to increased wear.

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Tools, paint, thread, leather – quality is essential to this wallet’s construction.

For final confirmation and quality control, Andrew Diba e-mails multiple photographs of the custom item prior to any shipment to guarantee a satisfied customer. If it isn’t right, it’s thrown away.

FUNCTION

The sheer amount of details and construction of this particular wallet makes it so that it no longer functions as a wallet. Instead, it is a showpiece. I can’t bring myself to stuff too many things into it for fear of ruining its stunningly fluid look. Should I stuff an old Costco receipt and my five coffee stamp cards into it? Probably not. Will it hold everything if I wanted to? Of course. The wallet is thin enough to fit comfortably into both back and front pockets and the alligator is surprisingly soft and light. The leathers are expected to self-condition with oils from the hands which is good since you will find yourself not wanting to let go of this wallet. Andrew Diba recommends Saphir Reptan conditioner for all his exotic skins.

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AESTHETIC

Text doesn’t do this wallet justice. It is beautiful, well-crafted, and screams luxury. Why waste time on describing the wallet when I can just post photos. The best part? No eyesore of a brand or label. It is better matched for formal or chic apparel but with something at this level you can wear it with anything and no one will dare criticize you.

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BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Geometric Wallet is a standout leather creation. At $605 with free international shipping for this combination of materials, you get a personally constructed heirloom quality product without breaking the bank. This is a bespoke good and as such, the entire construction can be customized online or in person, from color of edging and stitching to leather combinations ranging from Horween to shark. It may be an ambitious investment for some people, but once you have one in your hands, you won’t regret it.

Waxhaws Leather Co. iPhone 5 Signature Design Wallet Review – $78  

The Battle of Waxhaws was a pivotal but barely talked about battle during the Revolutionary War which galvanized American Patriots to ultimately win the war. The Waxhaws Leather Company is a small quiet California-based company less than two years old, created with the goals of producing classic and timeless full-grain leather pieces against today’s trend of softer, manipulated, mass-produced leather goods targeted at the pockets of female shoppers. Its owner, John Fred, prides himself on his honesty and work ethic passed down to him by his grandfather. Originally inspired by the Coach and Hartmann of decades past, John Fred aims to create focused and practical leather goods for men and women using full grain vegetable-tanned English bridle leather carefully selected to patina and burnish gracefully.

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CONSTRUCTION

This is a small family affair. John Fred designs his own concepts with the occasional nod of approval from his wife (who just happens to be a professional designer). The Signature Design Wallet is crafted using Italian full grain vegetable-tanned leather with three card slots and a full length compartment. All leather materials are imported from Italy and manufactured by an experienced Chinese production firm personally visited and chosen by John Fred. The leather is designed to wrap around the entire wallet including the interior whereas other wallets sometimes fill this space with cheaper microfiber or suede. Special attention was also given to the rubber casing holding the phone. As the area most prone to any wear and tear on the wallet, a special 3M adhesive is used to seal the casing to the wallet. On top of all this, John has a satisfaction guarantee and lifetime full replacement warranty for all his products and provides direct personal communication through e-mail. He uses and tests all his product lines himself and has a video on his website demonstrating the appearance, malleability, and durability of his own iPhone wallet case after long term use. With the upcoming release of the iPhone 6, a similar case will be released for the new dimensions.

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FUNCTION

Since this is full-grain leather, the brand new cover does not immediately lie flush with the phone screen. However, with time and natural conditioning from your hands, the leather softens and conforms around the phone. The pockets are useful but not numerous enough to function as an entire wallet. This is a good thing considering the main purpose of the wallet is a phone case and carrying tons of weight will only get in the way of making phone calls. The rubber casing has a solid attachment to the leather base and makes a snug fit with cutouts for all the speakers and cameras of the phone. The side buttons are guarded nicely but still easily pressed. For someone used to a plain silicone case, it takes time to get used to opening or bending back a cover to use a phone, but there is definite extra protection to the screen with the full grain leather padding.

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AESTHETIC

Instead of tearing away the packaging when you first receive the wallet, you will want to keep it. It comes in a handsome gift box which opens to an even nicer color and smell of full-grain whiskey (or black) veggie-tanned leather. The wallet is subdued in its appearance. There are no gimmicks or trendy style-lines. It is compact but beautiful. The leather looks like it is just begging to start building its own patina with the oil from your hands. Inside the surprisingly full leather interior adds that extra quality and luxury not found in most mass-produced leather iPhone wallets. My $3 silicone case from the mall went straight into the wastebasket. Never again.

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 BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Waxhaws Leather Co. iPhone 5 Signature Design Wallet is sold on the Waxhaws, Amazon, and Etsy websites. Offered at a reasonable price with free two-day Amazon Prime shipping available, it has earned a perfect 5/5 Amazon rating and deserves it. It is simple, it is quality, and it is beautiful.

Creel Leather Calf and Zander Leather Bifold Wallet Review – $180

The source of leather, known to most, is usually cow hide, pig skin, or even alligator but to my surprise fish skin can be made into leather as with this collection of wallets from Creel Leather based in Wiltshire, England. Luxurious and soft calf’s leather with bright and shimmering zander fish skin leather makes quite the statement. Enter the world of exotic leathers. IMG_7476 Jonathan Gurney founded Creel Leather in 2010 after years of being a lawyer and yearning to let his creative side burst out. Well made products such as shoes and various other leather goods always tickled Jonathan’s fancy so he decided to take a few leather work classes and try his hand at it. After getting an understanding of process and work that goes into quality and luxury leather goods Jonathan realized his skills were in design and sourcing of materials rather than the actual manufacturing. Jonathan designs and sources the materials for his products 100%. He then sends samples and designs to larger manufacturers in the UK for the precision work and is looking to expand to other countries as well.

Construction

The outside of the wallet is comprised of a black calf’s leather that Jonathan sources from long established leather dealers in the UK. The leather comes from calves in the middle east and India and is treated at various tanneries in Europe and Asia.

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The shimmering showcase of which is the red fish skin leather on the inside and the card slots is derivative of a zander fish which is a freshwater fish belonging to the perch family of fish. The tannery is owned by a Russian woman and her business partner who has a chemical engineering background and has spent many years developing the tanning process for fish skin and developing dyes that accentuate and complement the scale pattern and texture of the fish leather. They source their zander skins from the Baltic Lakes.

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The wallet has 6 main card slot pockets with 2 hidden pockets and 2 bill pockets.

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The card slots and two bill pockets are lined with a fantastic red silk almost matching the color of the fish skin leather. The silk is called ‘Silk Dupion’ is sourced from a manufacturer in South India.  The silk is machine loomed for extra density and strength.

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Lastly the stitching is made of a strong nylon.

Empty the wallet weighs about 2 ounces  and measures (closed) 4.5″ x 0.25″ x 3.5″.

Function

The thing I appreciate the most of the function of this wallet is that it is big and can hold a lot if you need it to. The pockets are very soft and flexible and there is ample room in them as well as the back bill pockets.

One thing that takes time to get adjusted to with some leather wallets is the ease of putting in and pulling out cards and especially cash. In a busy situation on the go, I get agitated that I can’t pull out cash let alone store access bills and receipts in a smaller wallet if I need to. This is not the case with this wallet. With multiple cards, receipts and a wad of cash, it is still easy to put things in and pull things out of this wallet.

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I’ve been using this wallet as a backup wallet when traveling. I keep my minimal essentials in my every day carry wallet and put other things in this wallet like extra cash, extra credit cards and discount cards that I won’t always use and receipts. If I’m feeling fancy or just in the need to carry extra cash or cards on me, I can easily convert my everyday cards to this wallet and go out.

Aesthetic

In terms of the design and materials, this is a luxury wallet that not only uses higher end leathers but accentuates them as well. The black calf’s leather paired with the red zander leather is a flashy statement that holds to the context of the exquisite and exotic leather not to mention the red silk pocket lining.

The calf’s leather is subtle and soft and reminiscent of a well broken in leather. There is no stiffness to this leather whatsoever. Being black there are no visible scars, scratches or other blemish marks from a months use, but I suspect the patina to start to develop over time to a glossier finish.

The Zander fish leather on the inside is very soft and pliable as well. It does not smell of fish at all and in fact, smells nice just like any other nostalgic smell of quality leathers I have encountered. The glossy finish and uniform red color suggests that this leather will remain scratch free. My first impression of the fish skin leather was that it lacked a certain toughness for being so thin. Although I love the idea of fish skin leather, the finish is unnatural for me being a bright and glossy red. Another small detail I noticed is that the leather is sticky or tacky especially on a humid day. I noticed this dilemma lessen after some use and wear.

The silk is exactly what it is: a smooth and luxurious material that compliments the fish skin rather and calf’s leather while offering a soft and smooth protector for one’s credit cards, bills, and other items.

The stitching on this wallet is minimal and blends in to a point were it is barely noticeable. This was the point in the design to have a lightweight yet strong stitch but remain hidden as to not take away from the leathers.

Size wise, the wallet is what most would consider to be a large sized bifold wallet.   With the 8 card pockets and 2 bill slots, one can hold a fair amount. I don’t tend to carry a lot in my wallet so I tend to aim for minimal wallets. One can hold a minimal amount in this wallet and still retain a thin and lightweight profile. If the wallet is packed full, I would suspect this would greatly increase the bulk and shape of the wallet not to mention create and extra bulge in one’s jeans or other pockets. Some will appreciate having the extra room if needed but I personally feel that one is tempted to use more room given a bigger wallet. This is about preference and convenience in the wallet world.

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 BestLeather Conclusion

This is a luxury wallet and less of a everyday wallet. This is not a rugged wallet that gets ugly and wears in like many other wallets featured on BestLeather.org. It is however an exotic, beautiful and statement piece that is highly functional and convenient as well as lightweight.

Check it out here.

The Leather Shop Palm Wallet Review – $120

the Palm Wallet by the Leather Shop

The Leather Shop handcrafts quality leather products; marketing their products under the Moose brand in their online store. They make wallets, bags, belts and cases – Handmade in the USA, from American leather. In this review, we are going to look at the Palm Wallet which is in their series of stitchless wallets and a sister to the Rivet Wallet).

The Palm Wallet by the Leather Shop
The Leather Shop is a collection of craftsmen working in Georgetown section of Seattle. In two previous episodes, I have already discussed why Georgetown is a great place to find craftsman arts (here and here). It is only natural you should find the Leather Shop in Georgetown.

CONSTRUCTION

The Palm Wallet is made from a single piece of leather. This is why it is stitch-less. There are six brass rivets that hold the wallet together in strategic stress locations. The top folds down and tucks behind a leather strap – which is not part of the one-piece construction. The leather is thick and firm and the edges have been burnished. This is an important point because, so often, small wallets are made from thin leather and the edges go unburnished; but it is in the details like these that set the quality of the work produced by the Leather Shop above the average.

It has three compartments. At first, I was disappointed my business cards did not fit in the front compartment. But credit and gift cards fit well in the front and there is room for a dozen business cards in the back compartment. It is no harder to pull business cards from the back as it is to remove gift cards from the front. So, it works out fine. The middle compartment is big: while you may have a difficult time stuffing power tools in it, it is large enough to carry a lot of hardware, change or, as in my case, more department store and gift cards.
You can pack the Palm Wallet full and it still fits well in the pocket

FUNCTION

The Palm Wallet carries a lot of stuff. Right now in my wallet, I carry thirteen gift and department store cards, a CDL medical certificate, ten one-dollar federal reserve notes, two papers with notes, a spare truck key and a dozen business cards – and I could probably squeeze a couple more credit or gift cards in if needed. I always carry a lot of stuff but you won’t convince me to carry a man purse. The Palm Wallet is as close to a man purse as you will ever get me.
Palm Wallet instead of man purse

You might be wondering where I carry my driver’s license: in the Rivet Wallet, I carry my driver’s license, five credit and gift cards and a wad of federal reserve notes. The Rivet Wallet and the Palm Wallet make a complementary duo that fit well together in the front pocket. Between the two, I always have room to save a receipt or stuff a note for later. Or, maybe one of these days the Leather Shop will come out with the Mega Wallet that will hold more than the Palm Wallet and the Rivet Wallet put together.
the Palm and Rivet Wallets Together

AESTHETIC

The Palm Wallet comes in a nice black box with the company logo in white. The box is nice enough to be a gift box and I think the idea is that the wallet will make a nice gift.

When writing about the Rivet Wallet, I wrote, “It has a profile that is slim and smooth and it feels comfortable in the hand or the pocket…” At the time, I did not know the Leather Shop’s website described the Palm Wallet as “comfortable in the hand.” But it is true: the Rivet Wallet is comfortable in the hand and the Palm Wallet is even more so as it fills the hand and in that respect, one could say it is the ergonomic model.
The Palm Wallet and the Rivet Wallet

The wallet in this review is yellow. Other colors available are blue, green, red and black. The design is simple and utilitarian – the Leather Shop describes it as minimalistic. While it is not bling, it is pleasing to the eye. The wallet looks strong and healthy and you know it is made for life. The PalmWallet is 4.25 inches wide by 2.75 inches tall by 1.25 inches deep. Big – but not fat.

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

It is the conclusion of this writer the Leather Shop produces fine goods that can be trusted to last a long time – and in the case of their wallets, a life-long time. If you are looking for something to carry the bare minimum while you go out on the town – this one might be too big. But if you are looking for a wallet that will hold a lot of stuff – the Palm Wallet will handle the task. The Palm Wallet holds more than any other small wallet I have tested. It looks good and feels good – and it goes well with the Rivet Wallet. The product is good.
The Palm Wallet by the Leather Shop

Tom Barrington Stingray Wallet Review – $79.95

Cow, cow, cow….. stingray?! When everyone else is pulling out their boring leather wallet, only those in-the-know will be able to identify the unique texture of one of Tom Barrington’s signature designs.

Tom Barrington began leatherworking during his time in the US Navy but only turned his love of creating his own leather goods into a business in 2011. At only 3 years old, his Los Angeles-based company produces an assortment of goods from key rings to belts and bracelets with his self-designed stingray leather wallets consistently being one of the top sellers. Tom Barrington has a special focus on exotic leather designs after learning from his own experiences as a consumer and strives to blend style, quality, and color into a world dominated by shades of brown and black.

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The wallet arrives in a clean and simple pouch

CONSTRUCTION

First the technical. This particular Stingray Wallet is the bi-fold with ID holder and 9 slot design. The wallet is manufactured through small boutique studios around the world which focus on hand constructing fewer quality products instead of mass-production. Made of genuine Dasyatis Pastinaca stingray originating from South East Asia, Australia and sometimes New Zealand, it measures 4 1/4″ x 3 5/8″ x 1/2″ with 2 cash compartments and 2 additional hidden pockets below the credit card slots. The outer stingray leather is chrome-tanned and then spray-dyed to coat the natural calcium beads of the skin which do not readily absorb dye like cowhide does. Whereas many stingray wallets have a painted white “eye” over the sanded tubercles of the skin, Tom Barrington chooses to leave the tubercles unpainted to accent the natural texture of the leather. He additionally uses a proprietary technique which allows him to create a small stitching channel directly through the calcium beads to avoid using traditional turned edge construction where leather is wrapped around the edges of the calcium beads and having to grind off the edge of calcium beads to make stitching easier. Machine stitching is employed instead of glue with additional stitch rows placed in the high-use areas such as the gusset and cash compartment for additional strength. The interior is a buttery Napa chrome-tanned cowhide.

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The tubercles are left natural and unpainted.

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FUNCTION

The 9-slot wallet is a basic design for maximum utility. For those wanting a smaller build, there are other options available on store website. Some may complain about the stiffness or roughness of the leather, but that is the nature of the beast…literally. What are your hard bones and teeth made of? Calcium. So with hundreds of polished calcium beads creating the unique look of stingray leather, the leather is expectedly tough and sturdy. If you nuzzle it against your face, you won’t get that soft calfskin feel of other wallets, but you will get a nice micro-bead exfoliation – two products in one! One downside of the calcium is its inability to hold dyes so long-term wear and tear will eventually rub some color away. The upside is that it doesn’t hold conditioners either so maintenance for this wallet is low.

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AESTHETIC

Now for the fun stuff. This wallet is all about the look. Keep the wallet closed and the subtle texture of the leather might make people do a double-take. Then when you open the wallet, BAM! The flash of color (other colors are available) will definitely grab someone’s attention. Unfortunately, it may also draw attention to how much (or in my case, how little) money you actually carry. Tom Barrington is not afraid of color and the contrasting cobalt blue is just enough to keep this wallet looking luxurious and professional, yet stylish.  The absence of a painted white “eye” also keeps the wallet looking classy and clean.

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BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Tom Barrington Stingray Wallet is a worthy exotic addition to anyone’s wallet collection. You may be able to find similar stingray wallets for a lower price online, but the extra touches of the unique edge stitching technique and natural tubercle grain on these wallets really give that extra polish and finish to set them apart. For those who want it quick, the wallets are fulfilled by Amazon and are eligible for Amazon Prime Free Two-Day Shipping.

Craft & Lore The Pilgrim Wallet Review – $70

How many times do you go online looking for a leather wallet only to find yourself despondent about the minimal number of choices available? If you’ve ever actually looked, the answer is likely never. There are thousands of companies from huge corporate retail magnates to mom and pop shops in Michigan all peddling the same bi fold and tri-fold. They are cut from one piece of leather or two, faux alligator skin, finest saddle leather in the world, gold leaf encased “fine leather wallets”. Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with many of these options, except that maybe there are so many. The fairly simple reason for this market maelstrom of product: wallets are about the easiest thing to make from a piece of leather. Fold a piece over and sew it and you’re already halfway done. This is the challenging market climate the small, one-man outfit Craft and Lore finds itself in. It is the solo project of artisan Chad Von Lind, a budding fine-goods company based in the lake town Coeur d’Alene, ID. His product in question is “The Pilgrim Wallet,” a large wallet or small travel clutch intended for road trips, rugged expeditions, and the like.

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CONSTRUCTION

Craft & Lore Pilgrim Wallet 3

The wallet is made from two pieces of solid leather: one 4 to 5 oz piece that forms the surrounding shell and structure of the wallet and a much thinner piece of ⅔ oz calfskin that separate the passport and notes compartment from your cards. The two are saddle-stitched together by hand using .35” waxed polyester cord, making the joint close to as sturdy as the leather itself. The closure is accomplished with an antique brass snap. Two pieces of leather were used in the construction of the entire piece. This traditional simplicity, though not uncommon in the leather-working world, greatly enhances the strength of the wallet. Although the supple nature of the material initially made me question its lasting power, it is in fact very strong, flexible, and will likely outlast me.

FUNCTION

Craft & Lore Pilgrim Wallet 2 It is intended specifically for travel, in the style of a trucker’s wallet. It’s a little too big to fit into my back pocket comfortably, is not quite as streamlined as your everyday bi fold, and doesn’t hold bills all that naturally. On the other hand, none of these are the point. This wallet was designed to see you through a lot of gallivanting. My passport and field notes fit together like a glove along with about twenty plastics total. With only the passport and eight or nine cards there was still enough tension to keep everything in its place well enough. The aforementioned softness of the leather makes it a pleasure to both hold and behold, and the brass snap is satisfying enough. Personally I wouldn’t carry this around everyday without a bag or backpack, but can imagine that it would become indispensable on any adventure.

AESTHETIC

Craft & Lore Pilgrim Wallet 5 Von Lind is open about his love for “simple unassuming things that are built beautifully and built to last,” and that influence is clear in the wallet. The leather is a rich, solid dark brown with no flourishes save a thin pinstripe around the outside flap and a tasteful logo on the bottom right interior. At a glance the wallet might seem outdated; few have carried wallets this size since the west still needed settled. That all serves as part of the attraction though, once you realize it is meant to be a heritage relic, a fine piece of artistry in the new wave of modern-vintage. The piece as a whole screams Americana and minimalism both to great effect. In its simplicity it is elegant; in its elegance it is functional.

THE BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

Craft & Lore Pilgrim Wallet 4 Along with a small fleet of similar creations, Craft & Lore has built a nice product out of great materials and simple construction. The wallet is geared toward travel oriented use and that intention should not be ignored; it would be a bit clunky as an everyday carry and would likely hold either much more than you needed or far too little. That being said, it is a good choice for a travel wallet and an attractive piece of leather-working. At $70.00 the price is a little steep considering the limits of its practical use. However, if you find yourself looking for a convenient and attractive place to keep your cards, cash, passport, and small notebook with a little money to spare, keep this traditional offering from Craft & Lore in consideration.

Marlondo Leather Smartphone Wallet Review


Ma Londo, owner and proprietor of Marlondo Leather, is kind of an enigma. He burst onto the leather working scene a couple years back with some very cool and interesting takes on (what has become) the standard leather briefcase styles, and he also designed some smaller pieces like Dopp kits, belts, and wallets.

And then . . . Poof!

He was gone.  His website was taken down, there were communication difficulties, and all that was left were some very loyal fans and some really great leather pieces.

But now, he is back–with a streamlined operation, an Amazon storefront, and some new designs like this nifty little phone sleeve/card case.

Construction, Aesthetic, and Use

It is a pretty simple design–just a single piece of leather that is lined in pigskin, folded in half, sewn together, and then reinforced with rivets.  There is a second piece of leather attached to one side that will fit two or possibly three cards.

The sleeve is not specifically created for an iPhone, but its occupant definitely needs to be approximately iPhone sized.  I tried to squeeze my HTC One X+, which is slightly wider and taller than my iPhone, to no avail.11

The sleeve is great for a night out, or for traveling very light.  It will only hold your essentials–phone, ID, and a single credit or debit card–so it might not be suitable to be your everyday carry, unless you are very organized.  Challenge accepted?

To order something from Ma, check out his website here, choose one of his current designs, or talk to him about creating something specific to you.

Good Stuff Design Four Pocket Leather Bifold Wallet- $55

Shaun Malinowski, 31, began working with leather just over a year ago when he was rebuilding a 1972 Honda motorcycle. As a cosmetic addition, he wanted to wrap the bike’s battery box with leather even though, up to this point, he had never worked with leather.  Upon completing the project, Shaun was left with quite a lot of leather and decided to see what else he could make.  From here, he was hooked.

Cracked plastic ID window, torn credit card pocket, or torn nylon bill pocket are the most common culprits to end the life of your common department store wallet purchase.  A good sturdy wallet that is built to tough, stylish and functional takes a bit more effort to find – not only that, but a wallet you are actually going to use and not decide down the road doesn’t fit your newly acquired credit cards. Everyone seems to have their preferences when it comes to size and functionality. Shaun Malinowski has his shop on Etsy called Good Stuff Design that is just what the name suggests. His simple custom designed wallets are well constructed, sturdy, and stylish.

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Construction

IMG_7394 Here is an original design by Shaun which is a 4 pocket bifold wallet. The leather used is a 3 oz. vegetable tanned leather that is hand dyed with saddle tan oil dye and finished with a conditioner.  The edges are all hand-stitched with brown waxed nylon thread and burnished and dyed.  The wallet has one unlined pocket in the back for bills and four pockets in the front for cards or other paper. The two front pockets are merely slots instead of fully lined pockets.  When open, the wallet measures 8″ x 3.75″; when closed, it measures 4.5″ x 3.75″.

IMG_7395Function

This wallet can best be described as a step up from a minimal wallet. It has ample room in the back pockets for cards, receipts, or other papers and also has a bill slot which most minimal wallets do not. I have always found it awkward to try to stuff folded bills in a side pocket on a more minimal design, especially when you have more than one bill or are in a rush. The pockets seem to hold whatever you stuff in them, making it as thin or as fat as you allow it. With 3 cards in both front pockets, a few receipts in either back pocket and 5 bills, it is still pretty slim. IMG_7387

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Aesthetic

Out of the box, like most leather goods, it is a pretty stiff wallet. However, it only took about one day to get the card and bill pocket to stretch out. The color was a bright orange, which was a bit bright for my taste, but I’m happy to say that it has already started to wear in and darken to a more tan/brown color. With age, this color should look very nice and antique like. Lastly, I was concerned that the front pocket ‘slots’ were flimsy and a tad awkward but then grew to appreciate them after a week’s vacation of stuffing cards, bills, and receipts into this wallet. The slot design helps to keep the wallet thin when closed and is easy to get adjusted to. IMG_7382

 

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BestLeather Conclusion

For the price, this wallet is well worth the money.  What looks to be simple and classic is actually a smart design with a minimal feel, yet with the convenience of added pockets and a bill pocket to those like me who just can’t get used to two pockets to hold all.  Shaun has several wallet designs and can work with you to customize them to your liking as well.  See Shaun’s shop here.

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Moore & Giles Half Zip Wallet Review – $140

Wallets.

Everybody has one, and there are countless iterations.  Some are made of leather.  Some are made of pleather.  Some are made of of nylon and Velcro, and some are made of duct tape.  In a world of dull, run of the mill wallets, it is refreshing when you see one that it is unique and has some character.  Unique was probably the first word that came to mind when I saw the Half Zip Wallet from Moore & Giles.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a mens wallet that has a zipper, but it just happens to be fitting for this design.  The Half Zip Wallet is the brainchild of Thomas Brennan, designer with Moore & Giles.

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MOORE & GILES

Moore & Giles is chiefly a leather producing company.  They produce finished leathers for the high-end hospitality, aviation, and residential interior design industries.  Born in 1933 by Donald Graeme Moore (if you know anything about Moore & Giles you’ll notice that many of their products have names like The Donald, Graeme, Brennan, etc, which are all named after current and past employees of the company), Moore & Giles initially sold components for the footwear industry and eventually expanded that to shoe leathers. leather linings, and sole leather.  As excellent companies do, they have continually shifted strategy to meet the needs of a changing market and found a burgeoning business in the high-end leather trade.  Fairly recently, the company has added a line of high-end leather goods, which upholds the company’s tradition of producing a fine quality product.  The Half Zip Wallet that BestLeather had the opportunity of reviewing is no exception.

THE LEATHER

The Half Zip wallet is made of two primary components, one piece of two to three ounce vegetable tanned leather for the exterior and a tonal waxed canvas lining for the interior.  As frequent visitors to BestLeather.org know, vegetable tanned leather is known for its durability and quality.  It takes significantly longer to vegetable tan leather, and the result is a hardy product that ages well over time.  Moore & Giles has their leather tanned at a factory in Italy known for producing some of the finest leathers in the world.  Combining veg tanned leather with waxed canvas makes sense, considering waxed canvases water resistant properties.  Originating in the sailing industry in Scotland in the 1920’s, waxed canvas has become the go-to material for many bag and apparel manufacturers because of its durability and waterproof properties.

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The leather is Hickory, or light brown, color that will patina over time into a golden bronze.  The canvas is a pale tan color and the combination of the two colors marry well.

The edges of the Half Zip Wallet, including the zipper pull, have all been burnished as well.  At BestLeather, we love to see edges burnished because it shows a higher degree of finish, which both increases the beauty of the product and also gives the edge increased durability and protection against abrasion.  It is another sign of a quality product.

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DESIGN

The Half Zip wallet’s signature design is the zipper.  As mentioned, I have never seen a mens wallet with a zipper, but it makes sense.  We carry some of the most valuable stuff we own in our wallet, namely our money, credit cards, driver’s license, and our Papa Murphy’s frequent use card.  It makes sense to stuff all of those valuable items into a wallet that stays closed no matter what.  You can also add a little coinage for those that still frequent bubble gum machines without worrying about losing your quarters.

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The wallet also has a thin piece of leather folded over and sewn into the interior of the wallet which you can use to place your credit cards.  It’s a nice feature that gives the wallet some compartmentalization, and allows you to keep some organization within your wallet as opposed to everything floating about.

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FUNCTION

As a specialist in the finished leather market, Moore & Giles knows how to put fine leather goods together that work well.  In my opinion, most wallets should be somewhat thin, considering we sit on them throughout the day.  The Half Zip wallet is very thin, but is still substantial enough to carry everything you need.  Even after stuffing several credit cards and some bills in the wallet and zipping it up and throwing it in my back pocket, I hardly noticed it.  It has a small footprint while being able to carry what you need in a wallet at the same time.  That is not an easy accomplishment, but Moore & Giles has done it well and done it in style.

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BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

If you are an individual who is bored of their plain ole’ bi-fold and wants something unique, durable, and stylish in a wallet, the Half Zip Wallet from Moore & Giles would be an excellent choice.  Though spendy for a wallet at $140, you get a wallet that fits well on the haunches, that has a lot of utility while still remaining simple, and that is truly unique in a sea of boring wallets.

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The Leather Shop Rivet Wallet Review – $45

rivet wallet

There are a lot of small, leather wallets on the market, but none are as unique and comfortable as The Leather Shop’s Rivet Wallet. The Leather Shop is a team of craftsmen located in the Georgetown District of Seattle. We wrote about them when reviewing their MacBook Pro Bag, which continues to be an excellent bag for carrying my computer and a few papers – even a folder of papers.

The Georgetown District is a forerunner in Seattle for marketing artisan crafts and goods. So, it is fitting you will find The Leather Shop here.

rivet wallet georgetown

CONSTRUCTION

The Rivet Wallet is cut from a single piece of high quality, saddle leather. It is handmade in the USA from American leather. When producing products from saddle leather, The Leather Shop only uses the single bend parts of the cowhide, which are the strongest parts. The wallet is dyed, glazed, and edge burnished – and this is all done by hand.

The Rivet Wallet gets its name from the riveting at two stress points – there is no stitching. The rivet design is unique and, besides adding to the quality of the wallet, the rivets look good. The Leather Shop says their “goal is to create long lasting, high quality leather goods” and after using the Rivet Wallet for a while, it is certain the wallet will last a long time.

The Rivet Wallet is approximately four inches wide by three inches tall and one-half inch deep. It weighs approximately one and one-half ounces or forty-two grams. So, you can see, it is very compact and light – but it has the durability of high quality leather.

FUNCTION

Many of the thin leather wallets on the market are good for traveling light but the Rivet Wallet works well as an everyday wallet, largely due to its pocket-type design. It has a single compartment and has enough room for several cards and some cash and coin. Even when it is full, it has a comfortable feel in the hand.
a full rivet wallet

AESTHETIC

The Rivet Wallet has a smooth and slim profile that is stitch-less and it has the unique rivet design. It comes in Tan, Yellow and Natural. The colors are enhanced by the glazing, which is done by hand.

The wallet is more than well crafted; it is a work of art. It has a handsome appearance and fits well in a casual or professional environment. People have commented on its appearance – and I tell them of its usefulness.

Here is a photo of The Leather Shop’s MacBook Pro Bag with the Rivet Wallet – and my dog, Miles. Miles loves high quality leather products – and he knows these are not for chewing. Miles approves of the Rivet Wallet, especially when I carry a treat inside for him.
Leather Shop MacBook Case and Miles

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Leather Shop’s Rivet Wallet is a well crafted product that is durable and will look good for years. It holds a lot – more than most thin wallets – due to the pocket-type design. It has a profile that is slim and smooth and it feels comfortable in the hand or the pocket, whether empty or full. You can use it everyday and take it with you whether you are going casual or professional. The Best Leather conclusion is the product is good and well worth the small investment.

Pact Minimal Wallet Review – Threadless & Glueless – $45

There are lots of wallets being reviewed around here lately. I just finished writing about the Kenton Sorenson Minimal Wallet and concluded that it would be difficult to replace. Fat chance! Two weeks later, I’ve got a new wallet and am very impressed with it. The work of a leather review is never over. You’ll type your finger to the bone in this rough business of reviewing leather.

It’s glueless, threadless, and robust. Say what?!

When Darrin from Pact told me he had developed a way of making fine leather goods without using glue or thread, I was hesitant to believe such a claim. “Yeah right, that leather will soften up and the whole thing comes apart in a year. Just wait.” That’s what I thought then on the phone, but not anymore.

What changed my mind was seeing and handling a five year old design of a MacBook sleeve, which was an early prototype of Darrin’s. Here are some pictures of it after five years of continual use.

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Some weirdos don’t like veg tanned leather. Weirdos, I say. It’s quite beautiful to me, personally.
Pact Leather threadless2
Here you can see the connections have stood up quite well because they aren’t experiencing constant friction or wear.

Those photos will give you an idea how innovative this type of construction is. It requires extremely high levels of precision in the cuts to guarantee durability, so they use a laser to cut out the leather. The leather fits together with barbs. Of course, the leather is vegetable tanned, so it is sufficiently rigid. Chrome tanned leather would be too flexible to hold together well.

Not having glue or thread presents some interesting developments in the manufacturing process. This may be the first leather making shop without a single sewing machine. Lego building experience is helpful though. Check for that on the resumes, Darrin.

Anyways, we are getting off track. About that wallet….

The footprint of the wallet is not much bigger than a business card and it is about a half an inch thick when you pack it full. In the true spirit of minimalism, you won’t be carrying your tax return around in this wallet. It will handle a few bills and some cards nicely. You can stretch it full, like with most wallets, to get more capacity.

The Minimal wallet is composed of 2-3 oz vegetable tan from the Hermann Oak tannery. It is quality leather. Usually, I have something to say about the thread, but not this time.

Darrin, the designer, is an architect, and it shows. Every product I’ve seen has a simplistic elegance. I don’t think Pact products are for everyone, but for those that appreciate minimalism this brand will be a treat.

I’ve only had the wallet for a week and I know I can easily use it for a long time. I have no doubts about its durability and functionally; it fits just enough cards.

To get yours, head over to Pact’s Kickstarter and pitch in so they can buy some sweet laser equipment. There are quite a few other neat goodies. Be on the watch for a giveaway of their satchel.

The first ten pledges will get a discounted price of $30 for this wallet.

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assembled – minus one
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it fits this much
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those tabs hold it together
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This is an obligatory photo. By the way, if you ever venture near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, I recommend the Java coffee shop. You just might find me there some evening, pounding away on a MacBook quite furiously.
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all that packed into a very small package

Vagabond Traveler Wanderer 4 Classic Leather Wallet Review – $23

Vagabond Traveler is a leather company based in Orlando, Florida.  They offer a wide range of products, from leather notebook holders to leather-accented canvas duffle bags to small goods, and the best part is that they offer them at “gateway drug” pricing.  Seriously – for hand-stitched leather goods, they are about as affordable as they get.

This post, we will be looking at the Wanderer 4 Classic Leather Wallet.

design

8The Wanderer 4 Classic is, true to its name, a fairly old-school type of wallet.  To put it more simply, this wallet is big.  Measuring 4.3 by 3.5 inches, it is certainly not a minimalist wallet.  Instead, it has card slots–six of them, to be exact.  It has an ID slot, space for, not one, but two! SD cards, and space for cash.  Again, Vagabond Traveler doesn’t settle for just one cash slot, mind you.  It’s got two, just in case you’re really ballin’ with loads of dolla-dolla bills, y’all.

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You might think that all this room would be incredibly bulky, but this particular Vagabond Traveler item is actually lined with nylon fabric, rather than being 100% leather.  It was a smart choice; the fabric keeps a thinner profile, despite the wallet being able to carry your ID, credit card, other credit card, supermarket loyalty card, cash, more cash, a couple of receipts, and that slip of paper with the number of the one place your boy Blue told you about with that thing you’ve been meaning to try.

construction

Unfortunately, keeping the price very low has led to a bit of sloppiness with the construction.  The slot that was cut to insert one’s ID is pretty crooked.  There is also a ladder-type design sewn into the exterior of the wallet with thread.  I was unable to determine a function of the design; it seems to be purely aesthetic.

BestLeather conclusion

At about $23, the Vagabond Traveler Wanderer 4 Classic is exactly what it is meant to be — a good, if not great, classic bifold wallet.  It doesn’t have much flash or whistles, but it will do exactly what it is meant to do: hold your cash, cards, and whatever else you ask it to.

 

Ashland Leather Johnny The Fox Wallet Review – $125

I am a wimp when it comes to wallets. Perhaps it’s the curse of the 21st century metropolitan male: trim-fit pants leave little room for bulky wallets in the pockets, front or back. So my wallets have always been paper thin (I’m serious, my last wallet was literally made of a folded piece of Tyvek). So naturally, I was leary about getting attached to a leather wallet. I was afraid that it’d just end up riding in my coat pockets or my briefcase.

As always on my first pass over such objects, my eye fell on the immaculate stitching on this wallet from Ashland Leather. It is consistent and beautiful, on both sides. The soft interior leather left the imprint of the sewing machine’s footprint, but it is not to bad effect.

You can also read our review of Ashland Leather’s beautiful $200 shell cordovan wallet here.

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Only after holding it in my hands for a few moments did I remember the near-mystic feature of the famed Chromexcel: the color that changes like oiled latigo on each crease. I eagerly bent the body of wallet in my hand and watched the lighter colors leap from the creases I was making. I admit that I may have gone slightly weak-kneed.

It strikes me that the interior leather does not do the exterior justice, except to remind one of the exquisite nature of the exterior. The interior feels and looks more waxy, less natural and buttery than the metamorphous chromexcel.

The lines of the wallet, however, are perfect. The die cut, creases and panel alignment is without fault. It is instantly apparent that one’s hand is holding an object of value.

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LIVING WITH IT…

This wallet disappears with use. I don’t mean that it was stolen, I just mean that I forgot about it. I used it, and it disappeared in it’s function. That is the mark of superb product. My old wallet never disappeared. It was always there, shuffling my cards up to make it impossible to find things. This wallet just disappeared. When I needed something, it was always in the same place. That’s the beauty of it’s simplicity.

Today, though, as I prepared to write this, I rolled it around in my hands and reexamined the exterior for a while. It has acquired a patina, especially in the corners where no cards support it’s structure. A few scratches accent both faces. A very pleasing element of Chromexcel’s character is that with a few seconds of rubbing with bare skin, large scratches transform from annoying, gaudy displays of carelessness to subtle storytelling variations that seem to glow.

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The exterior leather has become very supple, and the color variations native to Chromexcel can be elucidated by running my finger along the inside of the wallet. Like magic, the color variations disappear again with a quick rub of my thumb. The only way to describe it is that it appears to be alive.

It’s worth noting that I never felt as if I should cradle this wallet. Maybe it’s the ability to rapidly repair minor scratches with nothing but your thumb, maybe it’s the robust quality of the build. Either way, it does not feel like a product that needs to be protected from the elements. I throw it around, let my 2 year old play with it, and toss it into my satchel with my textbooks, stethoscope and reflex hammer without a second thought. To that point, my suspicions were correct: this wallet does end up spending more time in my satchel or jacket pocket than in my pant pocket. But what of it?

BestLeather conclusion

I will end with this: the Johnny the Fox Chromexcel wallet from Ashland Leather melds into your life, disappearing into it’s function as soon as the leather becomes supple enough. And as something of a minimalist, that is really the highest honor I can bestow upon it. At $125, I don’t know that I would call it a bargain, per se. But as a Buy-It-For-Life product, it is a reasonable price of entry.

Check out the Johnny the Fox Wallet from Ashland Leather here.

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