It’s On Sale: Chester Mox Wallets

Chester Mox is offering a 20% discount on all orders with the coupon code MAR20DISC. The company sells wallets handmade from premium leathers, with each wallet made by the company’s owners in Los Angeles. 

Their most basic models are made from Horween leathers, which include horse front (a denser, waxier material than calf, but one that’s more affordable than shell cordovan) and Latigo (a firm leather with a dry hand). Over the years, however, they’ve added a number of premium materials to their line. There’s Ilcea’s antique calf, for example, a beautifully mottled leather that John Lobb uses for some of their shoes, and Barenia, a soft, French calfskin that’s famously used for Hermes bags

Wallets made from speciality leathers cost a bit more, but there are still simple Horween card cases available for $45 (or $36 with the discount). I bought one many years ago and still use it as my go-to in conjunction with a money clip. If you see some other wallet designs you like, you can also have it made any of their leathers (including the more affordable Horween) since everything is made-on-order anyway. Just enquire for pricing. 

The sale ends next week on Wednesday.  

The Very Useful Travel Wallet

I’ve been traveling a bit for the holidays, and every time I get on a plane, I’m reminded of the usefulness of travel wallets. This is especially true for international flights, when you might have multiple plane and train tickets, foreign currencies, important notes to yourself, and various travel documents. Of course, without a wallet, you can stuff all these things into your jacket, but it’s kind of a hassle to fumble through your pockets trying to search for things when you’re in a rush. Plus, I’m always worried that I might have accidentally lost something halfway through my trip. The idea that I could be stuck somewhere without my passport or ticket, possibly in a country where I don’t speak the language, is kind of frightening.

So, it’s nice to have a travel wallet to keep everything in one place, and know that nothing has been lost. Mine is from Chester Mox. It’s made from their “museum calf” leather, which they source from the same tannery that supplies John Lobb. There are two big pockets inside for things such as passports and folded up pieces of paper, and some slots for your ID and credit cards. I really like Chester Mox for their relatively affordable prices on small leather goods, but this one is on the slightly pricey side. However, since everything is made-on-order, you can request the same model in a different material, and they’ll quote you a lower price.

If you’re not deterred by the price on the museum calf wallet, you can also find really nice models from Valextra and Smythson, both of which can be found at Barney’s. Those are cut a bit more like coat wallets, which is useful if you don’t want to fold your travel tickets, but the length also restricts the wallet to the inside of your coat pocket (whereas the Chester Mox one can be slipped into the back pocket of your jeans if necessary). Brooks Brothers also has something with a long interior pocket, and Ettinger has various models made from their signature English bridle leather (a thicker, stiffer material that’s as hardy as it is handsome).

For something more affordable, there’s Tanner Goods and Duluth Pack. Saddleback Leather also has a really interesting design with an RFID shield. It’s sold out at the moment, but given that it’s a staple piece in their line up, it’ll probably be restocked at some point again.

When shopping for one, I encourage you to avoid the ones that are designed to just hold a passport and nothing else. At any international checkpoint, you’ll be asked to take your passport out of your fancy case, which makes having a case kind of pointless. A wallet that holds your passport, documents, tickets, credit cards, and ID, however? Very, very useful.

It’s Kind of on Sale? Elsa Peretti Money Clips

Over the weekend, Tiffany & Co. quietly lowered the price of their Elsa Peretti money clips from $195 to $150. Kind of surprising since the company has a strict policy of never doing sales or giving discounts, and they generally only raise prices over time, not lower them. They do sometimes adjust for the price metals, but going from $195 to $150 is a big jump. There’s even a model now for $125, for people who want something a bit more affordable (it’s just not made from sterling silver).

Elsa Peretti, for those who may not know, is an Italian jewelry designer who has made some of Tiffany’s most popular pieces. Most of her work is targeted at women, though she’s done things for men from time to time. In addition to money clips, she’s designed things such as cufflinks and lighters using those fluid, simple lines that she’s most famous for. I’m a big fan of her money clips, personally, and whenever I’m wearing a sport coat  or any non-rugged outerwear, I carry all my cash and cards using her bean-shaped clip and a Chester Mox card case.

The upside to a money clip is that they look dang classy, and when combined with a nice leather card case, you can carry everything you need without having the bulk of a traditional bi-fold. The downsides are that they can be a little flashy and, at times, cumbersome to use. I dislike having to pull out a wad of cash, thumb through a bunch of bills, and pick out two dollars to just pay for something small. It makes buying something like a bag of chips feel like a drug deal, though I suppose that can be either a good or bad thing depending on your disposition. 

For other nice money clips, you can turn to Paul Stuart, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Ralph Lauren, and our advertiser Frank Clegg Leatherworks. Tiffany also has some nice models outside of their Elsa Peretti collections. In addition, you can always try eBay, but be warned:  I’ve bought about half a dozen clips from there and all have been fake (i.e. not made of sterling silver, or were rip offs of name brands). Jesse is right that counterfeiting in traditional men’s clothing isn’t big enough to worry about, but you can get into slightly more dangerous territory with famous jewelry brands. Caveat emptor.

The Wallet I Use with Jeans

Since my post on henleys yesterday, a few readers emailed me asking for details on the leather wallet shown in my picture. That’s a mid-length, steerhide wallet made by the Japanese brand Flat Head. It’s thick and heavy, and over-the-top in terms of durability. It’s also the only wallet I’ll use with jeans, as my regular card case and money clip combination feels too insubstantial when I’m wearing a rugged jacket.

High-End Japanese Models

The Flat Head’s wallet is admittedly ridiculously expensive. Part of this is due to the materials and construction (it has a sterling silver ring, and has been handsewn with waxed cow tendon thread); part of it is the cost of labor in Japan (where it was made); and part of it is simply a result of the high-demand for Flat Head products in the hardcore denim-enthusiast community. If you’re not bothered by the price, you can find similarly nice pieces at Self Edge and Blue in Green. They have stuff made by Flat Head, as well as other high-end Japanese brands, such as Kawatako, Studio D’Artisan, and Red Moon.

More Affordable Options

There are a number of more affordable options, however, from companies based the other parts of East Asia and the United States. These include Angelos Leather, Obbi Good Label, Tenjin Works, PCKY, Voyej, Hollows Leather, and Tanner Goods. I’ve also seen some really nice models made by Don’t Mourn Organize. The man behind that operation, Scott, doesn’t list his mid-length and long-wallets on his website, but I assume they can still be made. Almost everything he sells is made-to-order. Lastly, you can search eBay for “Redmoon style wallet,” which should pull up a few models. I have no experience with those, but I did buy my braided leather chain, which you see above, from eBay a few years ago (it cost something like twenty-five bucks). There are still similar ones on eBay

Getting That Patina

If you buy one, you have the option of getting something already dyed, or something that comes in a tan “natural” color. The second will darken into that golden, honey brown you see above. All that’s really required is about a year or so of regular use. Sunlight will darken the leather, so if you want to speed up the process, you can leave the wallet out for a couple of days in direct sunlight. To get a truly nice patina, however, you’ll need to use it. Sticking it in your back pockets, for example, will give the leather a more natural, broken-in look, and transfer some of the indigo from your jeans to your wallet’s leather and threads. I also routinely treat mine with Obneauf’s Heavy Duty LP. Some say the hue of your wallet’s patina is determined by the kind of leather treatment you choose, while others say this is nonsense. I have no opinion on it either way, but you can browse threads like this one at Superfuture to see how some people’s leather products have aged. I have noticed, for what it’s worth, that some Flat Head wallets have developed a slightly reddish patina, while mine is more golden-brown.

Either way, if you purchase something of quality, and give it some good, hard, honest use, you’re sure to get something beautiful at the end. Just don’t let a chiropractor see you with one, as sitting on such a bulky thing all day is apparently bad for your health.

Chester Mox Sale

Another favorite company of mine just started a sale today. From now until August 5th, customers can take 20% off all orders at Chester Mox with the discount code 20Disc.

These wallets are all handmade, produced by the company’s owners in Los Angeles, and made from some of the best leathers in the world. There’s a range of calf leathers from Horween, and some beautifully mottled “museum calfs” from Ilcea (the same leather used to make these John Lobb shoes). Prices start pretty reasonably here too, with some models available for $36 after the discount. 

Note, the website doesn’t say so, but if you see a model you like, but not in a leather listed, you can email them to enquire about a special order. Just tell them what wallet style and leather you want, and they’ll give you a quote for how much the job will cost. Monogramming options are also available, which I think makes for a nice touch if you’re buying one of these as a gift for a friend. 

We Got It for Free: Kent Wang and Meermin’s Antiqued Shoes

Top-end manufacturers such Hermes’ John Lobb have long used Ilcea’s antiqued leathers for their products. The beautifully mottled, full-grain Italian calf leather has been made into shoes, belts, and wallets, and while the resulting products are very handsome, they’re also very expensive. Shoes can cost as much as $1,500, while accessories typically hover around $300.

Recently, Kent Wang and Meermin introduced their own line of Ilcea antiqued calf shoes, but at a lower price point. Kent has four models, including the semi-brogue pictured above, while Meermin just finished a quarter-brogue specially made for certain StyleForum members.

Though both use materials from the same tannery, they’re very differently designed. Kent’s is a bit more aggressively styled with larger punch perforations and more apparent antiquing. His model also has an elongated toe box (which tapers to a soft square), a narrower waist, and a more angular silhouette. Meermin’s on the other hand, has more subtle antiquing and the last (here being the Hiro, though StyleForum members received the Olfe) is a classic round toe with a conservative sensibility. Meermin’s leather is also a bit shinier and polished, something like what you’d find on John Lobb’s antiqued calfs, while Kent’s is matte. I like the richer finish of Meermin’s, personally, but of both are handsome in their own right.

Both shoes are made in East Asia, but to high standards (Kent’s are produced in Laos and Taiwan, while Meermin’s are made in Shanghai, then finished in Spain). Kent’s are Goodyear welted and Meermin’s are handwelted. Both mean that the soles are easily replaceable, thus allowing these shoes to potentially last for decades if they’re well-taken care of. The soles are also channeled, which means that the stitching at the bottom is hidden, and there are brass nails at the soles’ toes and heels to help slow their wear. Nice little details, such as the slightly curved waist on Meermin’s and the more visibly shaped fiddleback on Kent’s, finish them off.

At the moment, Meermin’s model is not yet available. This quarter-brogue was made on special order only for certain StyleForum members. However, the company is working to introduce this antiqued leather to their ready-to-wear line. If they do, they’ll include the quarter-brogue you see above and a double monk. They may also have the leather available for their made-to-order (MTO) offering, which means you can have any of their shoes made from this material. I’m told that the price for the ready-to-wear shoes should be about $320 for US customers, while MTO will vary depending on what’s requested. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a more handsome shoe for ~$300, and I somewhat doubt I ever will.  

Kent’s is a bit more expensive, with prices ranging from $450 to $525. However, his are available now and feature a bit more handwork, such as the fiddleback waist you see on the sole. It’s purely a stylistic detail, but a nice one, I think.

For those interested in Ilcea’s antiqued calf, but can’t afford these prices, check out Chester Mox. They use the leather for their wallets, and can specially make any of their models from this material upon special request. Prices aren’t cheap, but they’re a fraction of the ~$300 that John Lobb charges. 

It’s On Sale: Chester Mox Wallets

Chester Mox is having a number of promotions this week. First, personalization is free. That means you can have a monogram or message etched into any of their products without being charged. Second, shipping within the United States is also free. And third, their shell cordovan wiry flap wallets have been discounted from $190 to $125. No discount codes are necessary, and all adjustments will be made at check out.

I’m a big fan of Chester Mox, as I think they’re one of the few companies selling quality, handmade leather goods at an affordable price. My own daily wallet from them costs $39. They make everything themselves from their Los Angeles workshop. The leathers they use are sourced from world class tanneries such as Horween and Ilcea, the second of which supplies them the beautiful, slightly mottled, antique calf leather you see above. Once the leathers arrive, they’re handout and then handsewn, and the resulting products then have their edges handpainted and burnished. Each order is also made-on-request. That means if you like the shape of one wallet, but prefer them to use the leather from another, they can accommodate. When they made my wallet, I asked them if they could not put their company logo on it (as I personally dislike visible logos). Instead, I just had them place my monogram where their company name would normally go. The results were great. 

Note, the promotion for free personalization and shipping ends next Monday, the 25th, and the shell cordovan flap wallet discount ends this Friday, the 22nd

We Got It For Free: First & Company Coat Wallet

A few months ago, I received a coat wallet from First & Company, a relatively new leather goods upstart based in Southern California. I’ve wanted a coat wallet for some time now. My usual card case and money clip combination feels too dinky with a proper coat, so I’ve used this on occasions when I’ve worn a dress coat out. Not to say that coat wallets can only be worn with dress coats, but they do have a dressier sensibility to me that makes them better suited with tailored clothing.

I admit my first impressions were a bit mixed. On the one hand, the wallet feels great. The Italian nubuck leather is very soft and lush, and the wallet is a pleasure to handle between the fingers. I also like the simple and attractive design. There are six slots for credit cards, a flap sleeve for paper currency, and two internal pockets for miscellanea. I’ve been using this on trips abroad and have found the multiple slots useful for organizing paper money, jotted down notes, and folded up receipts.

I also like that the construction itself looks very clean. The leather is hand cut, but the pieces themselves are machine stitched. That might seem like a downside to people who think everything in the world must be handmade, but really each technique can lend different benefits. A hand-sewn saddle stitch can be more durable than machine-made stitches, but hand-sewn leather goods can look a bit rough-hewn if they’re not done well. I like that First & Company’s machine-sewn wallet looks very clean and elegant. You may also notice that the leather on the edges have been turned inward. This yields a more attractive and durable edge, since you won’t get the two leathers’ edges separating over time.

On the other hand, the threads used are pretty basic and untreated, and I was worried that they might break at some point. I told First & Company I’d review their wallet only after I put in at least three months of good use. Well, those three months have passed and this wallet shows no sign of wear or tear. I think it’s fair to say my initial skepticism might have been unfounded.

At the time I received the wallet, their price point was lower than where it is now. I was actually interested in reviewing it for readers precisely because this seemed like a potentially great deal. First & Company recently had to raise their prices, however. The wallet is now being sold at $195, which kind of expensive. If you have that kind of scratch, I think this is just as nice (if not nicer) than the house brand wallet I recently handled at Barney’s. A step up would be those made by companies such as Deakin & Francis or Valextra. There, the leather quality, stitching, and finishing are a bit better, but they cost double, if not more, than First & Company’s. For readers who want something a bit more affordable, I recommend Saddleback Leather Company, Frank Clegg Leatherworks, and Chester Mox. Not everything they sell is low-priced, but they do have some affordable wallets if you look around. The only thing is they don’t have coat wallets, for which if you have $195, First & Company sells a pretty decent option.

How I Travel
I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and in my time traveling, I’ve learned one cardinal rule: pack as light as possible. These days, I try to only bring a carry-on and one personal item (my briefcase, which always contains my laptop and some reading material). In my carry-on is a small set of clothes – two grey trousers, four light blue or white shirts, one navy sweater, and a sport coat. I find that this is enough to get me through a few days before having to do laundry, especially since we’re not also counting the clothes I’m wearing onto the plane. Other things, such as shaving razors, soaps, and shampoos, can always be bought at the destination.
I like bringing a few superfluous things that make the trip more pleasant, however. For one, instead of wearing a sport coat onto the plane, I use a travel jacket I bought from Herno. It looks a bit like this one from Woolrich, but it has a hidden zippered pocket and no epaulets. Zippered and snap button pockets are useful for making sure things don’t accidentally slip out when you take off your jacket and carelessly carry it around. The idea of being in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that you’ve lost your papers, credit cards, and money just seems really, really bad. So I wear a travel jacket. Woolrich and Boggi have one this season (you may need to call Boggi’s actual stores to order), but you could also just wear anything lightweight and of a similar design. Just search around for “field jackets.”
I also use a travel wallet. These help keep my important documents and cards all in one place – passport, green card, identification papers, credit cards, health insurance card, boarding pass, and little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted down my hotel, flight, and train information. Having them all in one place gives me a peace of mind and some convenience. Many airports these days have multiple checkpoints where you have to show your papers to some official, so it’s convenient to have them ready and on hand. My travel wallet is by Chester Mox, who is running a Father’s Day promotion until Thursday, but you can also find some nice ones by Saddleback, Aspinal of London, Filson, and Tanner Goods.
There are a few other things I find helpful. Sleeping pills can get you through a long flight, but they also leave you feeling drugged. So instead, I eat Tianwang Buxin Wan, an all-natural, root-based pill that relaxes me enough to go sleep. It’s great on the plane and for when I’m trying to recover from jet lag. I also wear Bose noise cancelling headphones that a friend generously gifted me, and either soft suede driving shoes or a pair of canvas plimsolls. Feet tend to swell up during flight, which makes wearing hard bottom leather shoes extremely uncomfortable. Even if you take off your shoes, your feet can swell so much that they can be hard to put back in. Should you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend using my credit card trick.
And that’s basically how I travel - a carry on and my briefcase, along with a travel jacket, travel wallet, pair of soft shoes, and some things to help me go to sleep. These are enough to get me through fifteen to twenty hour travel schedules and still land in reasonably good form. 
(Pictured above: My travel jacket, travel wallet, and laptop at JFK airport)

How I Travel

I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and in my time traveling, I’ve learned one cardinal rule: pack as light as possible. These days, I try to only bring a carry-on and one personal item (my briefcase, which always contains my laptop and some reading material). In my carry-on is a small set of clothes – two grey trousers, four light blue or white shirts, one navy sweater, and a sport coat. I find that this is enough to get me through a few days before having to do laundry, especially since we’re not also counting the clothes I’m wearing onto the plane. Other things, such as shaving razors, soaps, and shampoos, can always be bought at the destination.

I like bringing a few superfluous things that make the trip more pleasant, however. For one, instead of wearing a sport coat onto the plane, I use a travel jacket I bought from Herno. It looks a bit like this one from Woolrich, but it has a hidden zippered pocket and no epaulets. Zippered and snap button pockets are useful for making sure things don’t accidentally slip out when you take off your jacket and carelessly carry it around. The idea of being in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that you’ve lost your papers, credit cards, and money just seems really, really bad. So I wear a travel jacket. Woolrich and Boggi have one this season (you may need to call Boggi’s actual stores to order), but you could also just wear anything lightweight and of a similar design. Just search around for “field jackets.”

I also use a travel wallet. These help keep my important documents and cards all in one place – passport, green card, identification papers, credit cards, health insurance card, boarding pass, and little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted down my hotel, flight, and train information. Having them all in one place gives me a peace of mind and some convenience. Many airports these days have multiple checkpoints where you have to show your papers to some official, so it’s convenient to have them ready and on hand. My travel wallet is by Chester Mox, who is running a Father’s Day promotion until Thursday, but you can also find some nice ones by Saddleback, Aspinal of London, Filson, and Tanner Goods.

There are a few other things I find helpful. Sleeping pills can get you through a long flight, but they also leave you feeling drugged. So instead, I eat Tianwang Buxin Wan, an all-natural, root-based pill that relaxes me enough to go sleep. It’s great on the plane and for when I’m trying to recover from jet lag. I also wear Bose noise cancelling headphones that a friend generously gifted me, and either soft suede driving shoes or a pair of canvas plimsolls. Feet tend to swell up during flight, which makes wearing hard bottom leather shoes extremely uncomfortable. Even if you take off your shoes, your feet can swell so much that they can be hard to put back in. Should you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend using my credit card trick.

And that’s basically how I travel - a carry on and my briefcase, along with a travel jacket, travel wallet, pair of soft shoes, and some things to help me go to sleep. These are enough to get me through fifteen to twenty hour travel schedules and still land in reasonably good form. 

(Pictured above: My travel jacket, travel wallet, and laptop at JFK airport)

It’s On Sale: Chester Mox Wallets
One of my favorite leather goods companies, Chester Mox, is having a Father’s Day promotion. Until June 14th, you can get any wallet monogramed for free. On many of the wallets, this will be put in place of the company’s logo. A nice way to both get something logo free and personalize a product for someone you love (or for yourself). 
Chester Mox is a simple, one-family operation based out of Los Angeles. They make all of their products by hand, and the family has over twelve years of experience working with leathers. The construction of their wallets is very good and they use leathers from the best tanneries in the world. Two of them, Ilcea and Horween, for example, supply leathers to top footwear manufacturers such as John Lobb and Alden. All of the handwork they put into their products, from the stitching to the edge painting, is also well done. 
Since everything is made on order, you can easily put in special requests. If you see a model you like, but not in a leather you want, just contact them and ask if they can make it. Chances are they can. I’m a particularly big fan of their horse-front leather, which I find to have the luster of shell, and sightly more durability than calf (a bit more scratch and scuff resistant, though not as much as shell). It’s also just feels really rich to the touch. 
(Photo by Sean Hotchkiss)

It’s On Sale: Chester Mox Wallets

One of my favorite leather goods companies, Chester Mox, is having a Father’s Day promotion. Until June 14th, you can get any wallet monogramed for free. On many of the wallets, this will be put in place of the company’s logo. A nice way to both get something logo free and personalize a product for someone you love (or for yourself). 

Chester Mox is a simple, one-family operation based out of Los Angeles. They make all of their products by hand, and the family has over twelve years of experience working with leathers. The construction of their wallets is very good and they use leathers from the best tanneries in the world. Two of them, Ilcea and Horween, for example, supply leathers to top footwear manufacturers such as John Lobb and Alden. All of the handwork they put into their products, from the stitching to the edge painting, is also well done. 

Since everything is made on order, you can easily put in special requests. If you see a model you like, but not in a leather you want, just contact them and ask if they can make it. Chances are they can. I’m a particularly big fan of their horse-front leather, which I find to have the luster of shell, and sightly more durability than calf (a bit more scratch and scuff resistant, though not as much as shell). It’s also just feels really rich to the touch. 

(Photo by Sean Hotchkiss)