Vince Lombardi described success in dozens of ways over the course of his 15-year career as an NFL head coach, notably remarking “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work; work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.” Passion for the craft is an emotion that drives us to work hard and design with inspiration, whether on the field of play or in the workshop. Lombardi would also be the first to admit that you didn’t achieve success on your own; it takes a team of dedicated individuals with similar goals and mindsets.
If you’ll pardon the extended metaphor, let’s take a look at the Minimum Squared Black Leather Wallet With Deep Red Thread and find out if it meets these definitions of success. As with many in the leather craft, inspiration for the wallet came when the creators were unable to find anything on the market meeting his functional and aesthetic requirements for his engineering-cum-traveler lifestyle. Through a fusion of traditional leather work, modern technology, and carefully sourced materials, the husband-wife team of Sanela Kadric and Adrian Martinez, owner/creators of Minimum Squared (also known as m^2) created a minimalist wallet they hoped will appeal to a worldwide audience.
Sanela and I emailed back and forth quite a bit during the review process, and one thing you’ll appreciate about m^2 is their extraordinary attention to detail. Their journey to create m^2 began when Adrian’s travels by plane and train had him considering the need for a front-pocket wallet that wouldn’t be uncomfortable while seated. Furthermore, he wanted the wallet to hold all of his credit and bank cards, as well as look good next to a business suit.
Adrian spent hours on the Internet looking for a wallet that would meet his criteria:
- The wallet should have the footprint of a business card and not be much thicker than its contents
- There should be no need to fold paper money to provide quick access and keep fortunes discreet.
- The wallet should hold international currencies (Sterling pounds and Euro notes) as well as US dollars
- The wallet should have the same card-carrying capacity as more traditional non-minimalist wallets
After spending his time and engineering skills coming up with a “paper and staples” design, he and Sanela arrived upon a prototype that would become the current version of the m^2 wallet. With Sanela’s love for crafts and her job as a language instructor, she was able to help bring their mutual design to market. After much positive feedback, they formed Minimum Squared. New to the business, it was at that point that she stated, “After all, we didn’t think my husband was the only one in the world looking for such a wallet, and all the hard work was already done. How wrong I was.”
The construction of the wallet reflects Adrian’s engineering background and Sanela’s eye for art. While the leather for the wallet is a single-piece, CAD-designed, laser cut and thinned material, the thread holding it all together is a hand-sewn Fil au Chinois waxed linen thread that goes from one corner to the other. After testing several materials and leathers, they chose Harmatan & Oakridge vegetable-tanned goat leather for the grain, feel, and availability of colors. It also tends to offer some stiffness after being laser-thinned, an important characteristic for any wallet.
While some eschew goat leather as being inferior to cowhide, this wallet is one of the finest, lightweight hides I’ve reviewed. On giving it the “smell test”, as I do with every product, I was rewarded with that rich smell of fine leather I’ve come to expect in top end leather goods.
The wallet measures 92 x 65 x 15 mm (3.6 x 2.56 x 0.59 inches) when filled with 10 cards and weighs in at a mere 0.9 ounces (25.2 grams). After I added 6 bank cards and a few paper dollars, the weight went up to a little over 2 ounces (56 grams).
My favorite feature of the wallet is the ability to pull paper currency out of the wallet without having to remove the entire stack of bills. While I am quite often lacking the aforementioned fat stack due to teenagers and orthodontia, it is a thoughtful feature ensuring the privacy of your current financial status. You can also store up to 10 cards in the wallet in such a way that you end up not stressing the leather or stitching as much as a traditional billfold. Friends of Sanela’s who tested the wallet have put more than 10 cards in it, and while it continued to function admirably, Sanela mentioned a bit of heartbreak in not using the wallet in the spirit of its minimalist intent.
It closes neatly via a woven elastic braid that Sanela sourced from an area close to her home in Spain. Closing it in this manner helps keep the wallet thin and compact. While I would question the long term durability of any elastic item, the braid is well-constructed; time will tell how it holds up.
The beauty of the wallet lies in the aforementioned attention to detail and the materials Sanela uses to make these wallets. She uses a 40-year old Olivetti Studio 44 typewriter to create the wallet labels (and write thank you notes to customers). The length to width ratio is 1.40, a little off of the golden mean (1.61), but not enough that you’d notice. The full-grain goat leather has a nice texture you might find in a high-end pair of goatskin boots. With the variety of leather colors and braids available, you should be able to find a pleasing color combination for your tastes.
I’d also note that the wallet is going to fit in your pocket with room for your smartphone or portable electronic device. It’s small, sleek footprint will fit well with any type of business suit, even those of the slim fit type.
Sanela and Adrian have merged the science of engineering and the love of craft to come up with a well-designed and beautiful minimalist wallet. This wallet is going to sit best on the inside pocket of a suit jacket, or carried in your business slacks. It is not a wallet that should be carelessly tossed into a bag or thrown on a table; you’ll want to take care of this wallet due to its good looks and price.
At $158 USD as of the time of this writing, you’ll want to educate yourself on what it takes to craft a wallet of this caliber: very high quality leather and thread for the materials, a saddle-stitched (by hand) one-piece layout, and a design that met all of Adrian’s specifications, and a beautiful minimalist look that is going to complement any suit in your wardrobe.
While I understand there are some staunch critics of goat leather, there are varying degrees in quality; m^2 has chosen a high-end brand, and it shows in the end result. If you’re undecided and on the fence about goat leather, give this wallet a look, and it may just change your mind.
For the attention to detail, the materials, and the overall look of the wallet, I do think the Minimum Squared Black Leather Wallet With Deep Red Thread is a good investment. However, if after purchasing the wallet, you find that you have no bills to put inside it, you might want to save a bit before making the purchase. After all, you’re going to have to buy that suit to go along with it.