Chester Mox is holding an early Black Friday promotion. From now until December 2nd, you can take 25% off almost any order with the checkout code BLKFDAY. The promotion applies to everything on their site — from card cases to travel wallets to belts — although bespoke orders are excluded.
Bellanie, the woman who both co-owns Chester Mox and makes all of the company’s products, learned her craft from a former Hermes leatherworker. Her work is genuinely among the best I’ve seen anywhere. All her leathers are sourced from top-end tanneries, including those who supply the likes of John Lobb and Hermes. Everything she makes is also handsewn using a technique known as saddle stitching. That’s when two needles pass through the same hole, either with an awl first piercing that hole and guiding a needle through or with the holes punched by hand using a pricking iron. The resulting seam is much more durable. Whereas a machine stitching can unravel if just one of the threads breaks, you need a special tool to pick apart a saddle-sewn one.
But mostly, I like her work for the high-level of craft. Saddle-sewn seams look tighter, neater, and have stitches that are slightly angled, whereas machine-sewn ones often look a bit rougher by comparison. Her edges are also better finished than some of the leather goods I’ve owned from British heritage companies. They’re handpainted and perfectly smooth in a way that almost makes two pieces of leather look as though they’re one. Below you can see my RRL eyewear case (machine-sewn) next to a Chester Mox card case (handsewn).
Since everything at Chester Mox is handmade and made-upon-order, it’s easy to get things customized. If you see a particular model you like, but it’s not offered in a leather you see elsewhere on their site, you can contact them for a special order (I usually browse their Instagram to check out the available leathers). You can also get monograms, have things made with linen or waxed threads, get different thread colors, etc. The promotion doesn’t apply to bespoke orders, where you design something from scratch, but it’s not difficult to get things made however you’d like. Some items on their site I think are particularly good:
- Dogleg Card Case: My favorite wallet design on their website — and the cheapest. If you use this, you’ll need something like a money clip to hold cash, but the easy slip-in card case design here is excellent for holding cards and IDs. I like the design most in their Barenia leather, which is the same untreated leather that’s used to make Louis Vuitton handles and certain Hermes bags. The leather takes up oils and water stains easily, which means it’ll patina quickly (I think it looks beautiful when aged). But you can get the same design made in any leather, including a very affordable $60 Italian veg tan ($45 with the promo).
- Travel Wallet: Travel wallets are a bit of an indulgence, but they’re also genuinely useful. This one from Chester Mox is better than the more common passport cover (which is genuinely not useful at all) because it has separate storage spaces for credit cards, IDs, passports, tickets, and miscellanea. I find it makes getting through checkpoints a little less stressful, and I can always quickly double-check to make sure I have everything I need. Chester Mox’s travel wallet starts at $215 for the base model but is on sale for $161 with the checkout code. I like it most in the mottled museum calf.
- Oliver Belt: If you’re just looking for a well-made belt and don’t want to spend a lot of money, I’ve been pleased with this model from Brooks Brothers ($128). But if you’re looking to splurge a little, Chester Mox’s Oliver Belt is completely handsewn for $300. You can choose any leather you want from their stock, which allows you to get the right match to your shoes, and the handwork is lovely if you value craft for its own sake.
Note, California earlier this fall banned the sales of alligator and crocodile skins. That means Chester Mox can no longer use those leathers in their products starting January 1, 2020. They do have some alligator and crocodile leather left, but they’re not able to take on large bespoke orders. However, they can make small key fobs in any color. Those are available for $100 — or $75 with the promotion — and they can do free deep metal engravings.