Getting a good quality leather wallet isn’t as simple as spending more.
Most mainstream options, regardless of price, use cheap materials and construction and degrade rapidly.
How do you distinguish the good from the bad? Here’s what to look for.
1. All leather construction.
If you peep down the pockets of just about any random leather wallet, you’ll see the number one reason why they don’t last–nylon cloth. Most “leather” wallets in actuality are synthetic wallets covered with cheap leather.
2. Excellent quality leather
This can be quite difficult to determine, but luckily there are some clues to light the way.
Makers that use the good stuff won’t hide it. Both the tannery and the particular leather used should be explicit. Absence of this information generally indicates poor or middling quality.
Full grain leather is, for the most part, preferable, but it is no guarantee of quality. There are many cheap full grain leathers that will age poorly.
The finest leather generally comes from Italy, France, the UK, the US, Germany, and Japan. Buying leather produced in one of these countries increase the odds that you’re getting top tier quality.*
3. Burnished or painted edges
Burnished or painted edges are not only essential to protect the edges from fraying and premature wear, but elevate the looks of the product considerably.
Most products are finished poorly, if at all, as a proper edge takes careful planning, skill, and a lot of time to execute properly.
Quality features tend to go together. It doesn’t make sense to skimp on leather if you’re going to construct a wallet well, and in turn, excellent leather doesn’t really belong in a poorly made product.
Finding a Maker
There are many very talented makers out there producing fantastic wallets with top of the line materials and construction. They have taken the time to develop skill and offer a quality and value than just cannot be matched by bigger companies. Buy from one of them, and you’ll have a wallet that not only will last, but look great, for years.
The most straightforward way to find a maker these days is through social media, like Instagram and Reddit. Explore various hashtags, like #leathercraft and find a maker that appeals to you.
*Here’s a list of some well-known tanneries that make some of the highest regarded leather in the world. Buying a product made with leather from one of these tanneries means the leather, at least, is going to be something to treasure for years to come.
- Conceria Walpier (makers of Buttero)
- Horween (makers of Chromexcel and shell cordovan)
- Badalassi Carlo (makers of Pueblo and Minerva Box)
- Wickett & Craig
- Herman Oak
- Alran (makers of “Sully” Chevre)
- Relma (makers of Chevre Crispe)
- Shinki-Hikaku (Japanese cordovan)
- Tanneries Masure (makers of Rugato)
- Tanneries Haas
- Weinheimer (makers or Waprolux (Epsom))
- La Perla Azzurra (makers of Dakota)
- J&FJ Baker, J.E. Sedgwick, and Clayton all make English bridle