I vividly remember the first wallet I bought. I was about seven years old and browsing the gift shop of the sadly-now-defunct Nottingham Lace Museum with my mother when I saw it. Emblazoned with the establishment’s white logo (a lady at her spinning wheel - eat your heart out Nike), it was a normcore masterpiece of black nylon fitted with a zip pocket on the front for change and a Velcro flap that I could tear open to access my real riches (usually a crisp £5 note from my grandmother).
Around fifteen years later, I bought my next wallet as a treat to myself on receiving my first paycheque from my first “proper” fashion job at Mr Porter - a far more elegant black and grey checked card holder with my electric blue initials burnished into the leather.
However, despite only ever having bought two wallets, I have had a great deal more than that occupy my back pockets over the years thanks to family members, friends and colleagues on birthdays and work anniversaries. Having spoken to my friends, I know I am not alone in this: few carry wallets that they have bought for themselves.
And while none of us would, I’m sure, critique the celebratory generosity or taste of those who have given us gifts, it’s rather strange to think that an accessory as intimate as a wallet - which we keep on ourselves most of the day and which contains some of our most sacred identification documents - is not something we have chosen for ourselves. Isn’t it time we got a bit more personal about something we keep so close to our chests (or, indeed, bottoms)?
A wallet not only needs to fit your chosen pocket (or bag), but your life...
The thing is, a wallet isn’t just a wallet - it is a little leather expression of your personality and preferences. For example, I am a small, slim, card-only wallet kinda guy. Don’t mind a fold in the middle, but it’s gotta be compact. That might be your idea of hell. You might need a little pocket for coins or something long because you stockpiled blank cheques and, damn it, you just want to feel like an old money patriarch silencing a blackmailer every time you pay your gas bill.
A wallet not only needs to fit your chosen pocket (or bag), but your life - and as we can all wax a little more optimistic about potentially returning to something resembling pre-pandemic normality sometime during 2021, now’s the time to get your handheld house in order. Thankfully, there’s a lot of choice here at Ettinger.
Take my husband, for example. While he currently carries a small cardholder, what he’s always wanted is something with a zip running around the edge - a wallet that will store receipts safely, has space for a plethora of cards and can also accommodate the key to our allotment shed. To that end, Ettinger’s elegantly curved Bridle Hide wallet, in its eye-catching green and yellow combination, fits the bill - quite literally. For me, I always look for something slim that will slip into my breast or top pocket nicely and not cause a rectangular bump to start protruding from my chest. Coins are strictly for pockets and my car’s glove compartment only.
...the other big problem with most people’s wallets is that they fail to adapt to the variety of situations a person needs them for.
However, the other big problem with most people’s wallets is that they fail to adapt to the variety of situations a person needs them for. The wallet I need for a night out, for example, is totally different for the one I need for a business trip - and both of these are different to the one I need for going to my local café for a double cappuccino on an average Tuesday morning. In other words, you probably need more than one - a wallet wardrobe, if you will.
As I tentatively look forward to the kind of events I haven’t been able to experience over the past year, I am using my burgeoning wallet wardrobe to dream about what’s to come. Perhaps I’ll need a Capra Long Wallet to hold my boarding passes for my first holiday away (in a custom combination of Green leather with a marmalade interior and tan stitching to match my camouflage suitcase).
Perhaps I’ll need a slim card holder to slip into my tux jacket at my first black tie event for a year and a half (in a custom union of black mock-croc and smooth leather, a white central panel and contrast white stitching). Perhaps, now I have committed to shopping locally more often - meaning I need to make for frequent use of Bedford’s selection of multi-story car parks - I need a Bridle Tray Purse to stop my glove compartment sounding like Santa’s Sleigh every time I navigate a speed bump.
Ettinger's Bespoke Wallet with black bridle leather on the outside and white panel hide inside
So as we move out of our most recent period of confinement into something resembling freedom once again, there’s been no better time to really interrogate if your wallet’s working for you (and what you might need moving forward). A great starting point is to take a look at the vast array of options Ettinger already produces - and if you can’t find the colour combination you’re looking for, then their bespoke service has you covered. Sadly, they have yet to introduce the logo of the Nottingham Lace Museum as an option, but a boy can dream.
Article written by Nick Carvell, Men's Fashion Journalist
Follow Nick on Instagram: @nickcarvell