We Got It For Free: Chester Mox Wallets

Chester Mox recently got in some very interesting leathers. They asked me to review some of them, so I selected a couple of designs to be made out of their new materials. 

The first is Japanese shell cordovan. There is a very small supply of this leather in the world and only a few tanneries are able to get it. The most famous is Horween out of Chicago, but there are tanneries in Japan and Argentina as well. The difference is in the liquors they use and how thick their skins are. Japanese shells, for example, come in black and a natural tone that slowly darkens over time. They’re also slightly thinner than the Horweens I’ve handled, which means they’re a bit more pliable. Aside from that, compared alongside my Horween shell wallets, I saw no difference in quality (at least for the purposes of a wallet). Perhaps most exciting of all, Japanese shell is cheaper, which means shell cordovan products like these will be more affordable for the final consumer. 

The second new leather, called Essex, is from Horween. It’s a cowhide that has been tanned in the liquor Horween uses for shell cordovan. They’ve been developing this technique for about two or three years, and the results are pretty marvelous. The full-grained leather is very rich to the touch and has a beautiful, slightly variegated, color to it. The color was hard to capture with my camera, but it’s definitely now one of my favorite leathers from Horween.

You can get any of Chester Mox’s wallets made in these new materials. Just contact them for a price quote (shell will obviously be more expensive than calf). I should also note that I’ve found the stitching on these to be even better than before. They’re now using a slightly thinner thread, which I think makes for a cleaner appearance. And as always, they can also customize any wallet with an engraving. I usually request a simple monogram of my initials in the same font they use for their logo. 

For $50 You Can Buy …
It’s been a while since I did one of these entries, so I thought I’d make up for it by building an entire ensemble for fall, head-to-toe, out of things you can buy for under $50. 
Shirt: Ralph Lauren Rugby has this "antique striped shirt" on sale for $49.99. I’m not crazy about Rugby’s designs when they have a bunch of collegiate stripes and emblems, but this one is simple enough. It also looks like it could go quite well with most casual ensembles. 
Pants: Sierra Trading Post has a bunch of Bill’s Khakis in a variety of colors and fabrics, and this vintage twill in olive would make for a nice fall chino. They cost $79.95 right now, but if you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll get their “special coupon” notices. Lately, they’ve been giving 35% off any one item, which brings these down to about $52 (hey, I’m just $2 off, cut me some slack). Depending on how skinny your legs are, these may need some tapering, however, so you should account for that cost. 
Belt: Narragansett Leathers makes handsome, custom-made belts for under $50. They have a variety of styles, but I like their plain 1.25” belts the most. If you want something more unique, they also have double ring and hoof pick belts for about the same price.
Shoes: It’s hard finding shoes for under $50! Obviously, if you’re willing to pay $100+, and look on eBay, then all sorts of decent options are available to you. For under $50, however, I’ll recommend these Land’s End chukkas. I’m not crazy about the stitching on the back quarters of the shoe, but they’re advertised as being full grain leather, and only cost $49.95. 
Wallet: I really like Chester Mox wallets. They’re completely handmade, built from Horween leather, and produced by a family in Los Angeles that has been working with leather for over a decade. Right now they’re running a promotion where they’ll etch your name or initials into the wallet for free (use the code FREEPRSLZ at the end of the Paypal checkout process). They have a bunch of designs for under $50, but this model only costs $35. A customized, handmade wallet for $35 ain’t bad. 
Watch: Big faced Timex, you got two of those. Well, at least that’s how many you can have for $50. Get the Easy Reader model for $20.24 on Overstock.com. If that one sells out, just check out their other Timex options. Many of them can be had for about $25 each.
Socks: You can get a pair of Gold Toe socks for about $3 at Belt Outlet. Read my review of them here. 
Key fob: This is a bit of a superfluous purchase, but the leather is 225 years old, and it was found at the bottom of a sunken ship! For $24, it’s a pretty cool thing to carry around. You can read more about the special leather in this old article I wrote. 
There we have it. Head-to-toe everything you need for fall, and nearly every item costs less than $50. It’s not the most sartorial of looks, but not bad for a budget. 

For $50 You Can Buy …

It’s been a while since I did one of these entries, so I thought I’d make up for it by building an entire ensemble for fall, head-to-toe, out of things you can buy for under $50. 

  • Shirt: Ralph Lauren Rugby has this "antique striped shirt" on sale for $49.99. I’m not crazy about Rugby’s designs when they have a bunch of collegiate stripes and emblems, but this one is simple enough. It also looks like it could go quite well with most casual ensembles.
  • Pants: Sierra Trading Post has a bunch of Bill’s Khakis in a variety of colors and fabrics, and this vintage twill in olive would make for a nice fall chino. They cost $79.95 right now, but if you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll get their “special coupon” notices. Lately, they’ve been giving 35% off any one item, which brings these down to about $52 (hey, I’m just $2 off, cut me some slack). Depending on how skinny your legs are, these may need some tapering, however, so you should account for that cost. 
  • Belt: Narragansett Leathers makes handsome, custom-made belts for under $50. They have a variety of styles, but I like their plain 1.25” belts the most. If you want something more unique, they also have double ring and hoof pick belts for about the same price.
  • Shoes: It’s hard finding shoes for under $50! Obviously, if you’re willing to pay $100+, and look on eBay, then all sorts of decent options are available to you. For under $50, however, I’ll recommend these Land’s End chukkas. I’m not crazy about the stitching on the back quarters of the shoe, but they’re advertised as being full grain leather, and only cost $49.95. 
  • Wallet: I really like Chester Mox wallets. They’re completely handmade, built from Horween leather, and produced by a family in Los Angeles that has been working with leather for over a decade. Right now they’re running a promotion where they’ll etch your name or initials into the wallet for free (use the code FREEPRSLZ at the end of the Paypal checkout process). They have a bunch of designs for under $50, but this model only costs $35. A customized, handmade wallet for $35 ain’t bad.
  • Watch: Big faced Timex, you got two of those. Well, at least that’s how many you can have for $50. Get the Easy Reader model for $20.24 on Overstock.com. If that one sells out, just check out their other Timex options. Many of them can be had for about $25 each.
  • Socks: You can get a pair of Gold Toe socks for about $3 at Belt Outlet. Read my review of them here.
  • Key fob: This is a bit of a superfluous purchase, but the leather is 225 years old, and it was found at the bottom of a sunken ship! For $24, it’s a pretty cool thing to carry around. You can read more about the special leather in this old article I wrote

There we have it. Head-to-toe everything you need for fall, and nearly every item costs less than $50. It’s not the most sartorial of looks, but not bad for a budget. 

The Silentist just did a round up of nearly every slim card-holder on the market, and it reminded me of the Seinfeld clip above. Most men I see carry way too much around in their wallets; it’s almost like they’re lugging around mini-briefcases in their back pockets. All you really need are a few cards, which you can put in a slim card holder, and some cash, which can held with a money clip. By carrying less, you’ll be able to keep a nicer silhouette throughout the day. 

I personally keep my cards in a Chester Mox card-holder, and I absolutely love it. The company uses Horween leathers and will personalize your wallet for $10 (I got my name engraved in the same font that Chester Mox used for their logo). Of the ones The Silentist blogged about, I think they offer the best quality-to-price ratio. 

Chester Mox: My Favorite Wallet Company

I know I’ve complained about how bloggers abuse superlatives. Everything is either epic and grail, or an essential that no man should go without. I’ll try to refrain from using those terms, but I’m genuinely really excited about this announcement. 

So a while ago, I wrote about VooDoo Studios, a leather goods company that I found while searching for a cheaper version of Makr’s angle wallet. The company really impressed me. VooDoo Studios was making handcrafted wallets out of Horween leathers, and selling them for about half the price that their competitors were. The family behind the company has twelve years of professional experience working with leather, so I had faith in the workmanship. By all accounts, it was the same beautiful, high-quality wallet that their competitors were selling, but instead of charging $80, these were $35. Yes, $35 for a Horween leather wallet, completely handmade by people who have been doing it for over a decade. 

After I excitedly contacted the company about doing a story on them, they nicely offered to send me three of their wallets to try out. I’ve been meaning to rotate through them, so that I could do a fair review on each, but I admit that I’ve been so smitten with the angle wallet that it’s gotten a bit more use than the others.

I especially like the angle wallet they sent me not just because of the design, but also the material: horse front leather, which is taken from the horse’s hips, just north of the horse’s rump (where shell cordovan is from). As I wrote earlier, I find horse front to be the “poor man’s shell cordovan.” It has a lot of luster and depth in the color, like shell, but to a lesser degree. It’s also very dense and a bit waxy, again like shell, but it doesn’t resist scratching or scuffing in the same way. Still, I like it much better than calf. When you touch it, you just get a sense of richness in the leather (though, of course, Horween’s calf leather is pretty damn amazing as well). The wallet has been wearing beautifully and I’m very happy with it. Of the various “menswear items” I own, this is one of my favorites. 

There was one thing that I didn’t care for though - the name of the company and logo on my wallet. For the amazing price point, however, I was willing to live with it. Still, I decided to give some constructive feedback to the company, and to my absolute surprise, they’ve been very open to my suggestions. 

So … I have some announcements. 

  • First, the company’s name has been changed to Chester Mox. It’s a name they choose, and I think it’s much better than the old name. Chester is the name of one of the family’s grandfathers, and Mox is a fuel that one of owners has been fascinated by. 
  • Second, there is a new logo. I think it’s much more handsome than the old one. This is the logo that will be used for any wallets sold from now on. Some of the pictures on the website still have the old VooDoo Studios logo, but those pictures will be updated shortly to reflect the change. 
  • Third, if a customer requests it, a completely logoless wallet can be made. Kind of nice for those who don’t like branding on their items. 
  • Fourth (here’s the part I’m really excited about), the company has a new personalization service for all items. Thus, instead of their logo, you can choose to have your wallet etched with anything you want - your name, initials, a short message, anything - for $10. You can choose the font and size of the etching, and have it be placed anywhere you want. I’ve included a picture of a sample they made. Personally, I’ll admit, I’m not crazy about the font this particular customer choose. I would recommend just going with the font and size of their Chester Mox text, but request that it be your initials or something. However, it’s your wallet, so it’s your choice. 
  • Fifth, they have some new customization options for the thread. Black nylon is the default, but you can also choose cream nylon or cream waxed linen. The personalized wallet I’ve shown above has cream waxed linen thread.

I’ll admit, before these changes, I was still hoping to maybe upgrade to a Bottega Veneta or Ettinger wallet one day.  The new changes, however, make Chester Mox my favorite wallet company. The whole idea of having my initials being handsomely put onto the wallet, instead of a company logo, is just really, really cool. And you really can’t beat the prices. I’m already thinking about getting one for a friend’s upcoming birthday. 

As a thanks to me for helping them out, the company is offering readers here a special discount. You can either get free shipping or free personalization with your order if you mention my name (Derek Guy). Just email the company after you’ve placed an order and they’ll adjust your final price. Check out their website and see which models you like.