Forget the designer brands, most of them mass produce in Asia to cater for their global marketplace. For truly top-notch luxury leather wallets for men, look to the companies listed below.
Although 125 years old, Smythsons languished for much of its history, including a spell as a subsidiary of John Menzies, the newsagents, until a management buyout in 1998 became a catalyst for the establishment of a forward-looking modern luxury brand, with a heritage to draw on. With its stationary lines now secondary to its leather goods, Smythsons offers a range of wallets that value simplicity and quality of manufacture over design, innovation, or gimmicks. They have three Royal Warrants, and their wallets are built to last a lifetime.
Pick of the pack: Panama 8 card calfskin wallet £175.
Established in the 1980s by Trevor Pickett, Pickett’s website doesn’t invoke the quality of it’s products. With its shops in London’s Sloane Street and the Burlington Arcade however, Pickett sells an extensive range of high-grade British leather goods, alongside Pachminas and other accessories. They dabble in exotic leathers, including lambskin, ostrich, lizard and crocodile, and their wallets are simple, elegant, and understated, often employing two colours, and with just few models to choose from.
Pick of the pack: Lambskin 8 card short wallet £175.
Holders of the Prince of Wales’ Royal Warrant, Ettinger is a family business founded in the 1930’s that is equally keenly aware of the past and the future. Since having purchased James Homer Ltd, a former saddler business of leather craftsman, in 1999, the company has gone from strength to strength. It’s products are in collections, some collaborations with other luxury brands such as Bentley and Wimbledon, and the brand is defined by its combinations of different colours. Cutting edge concept and design combined with master craftsmanship comes at a cost though – though less than an actual Bentley, to be fair.
Pick of the pack: Saint Crispin Bracken & Eggshell 6 card wallet £166.67.
Tusting is a fifth generation family business that produces a range of classic leather luggage and accessories. The wallets are handmade in their English workshop, with leather from Scandinavia, America, England and South Africa. Sticking to more conservative choices colour-wise, the emphasis is firmly on the more traditional customer – although they do make iPad and iPhone sleeves – and the quality is as good as any. A safe choice for a fine traditional wallet.
Pick of the pack: 8 card wallet in black and natural £129.
Founded by a Czech immigrant after the second world war, Launer has made a name for itself as ‘the Queen’s handbag maker’. Launer’s wallets are very high quality, and are manufactured at Walsall, near Birmingham, the traditional home of the English leather industry. While there’s no doubting the quality, attempts to modernise the range look a bit clumsy. A good choice for a no frills classic nonetheless.
Pick of the pack: 8 card wallet £154
So for the best luxury leather wallets for men, look out for the above brands – or of course you could try some of the new generation of upstart competitors.
Hugo Lesser is the founder of Estados, which makes luxury leather wallets for men.