Wallets can get expensive. Anyone who’s shopped online or in person for a wallet knows this. You might be holding a $40 wallet in one hand and a $200 wallet in the other, and be wholly unable to tell the difference.
As you look between the two wallets – one a full-grain leather trifold, the other a full-grain leather bifold, you wonder where all that money is going – is the leather quality of the bifold so much higher? Is it made of calfskin rather than bonded leather? Is its quality so much higher that it’s going to last you longer than the $40 wallet? Well, we’ll help you answer these questions in this quick article. The truth is that, mostly, the price of a very expensive wallet can be traced back to one of two important factors.
Wallets from big brands like Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Michael Kors, etc. will always carry an enormous price premium compared to other offerings. This extends even to smaller brands such as Polo/Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and other menswear brands.
In the case of these wallets, they are usually high quality, but this quality is not the reason for their high price. They are priced highly simply because some people enjoy purchasing luxury items from recognizable brands – it makes them feel good, it’s unique, and these brands are well aware that these people will pay a large price premium for the privilege.
This is not to discourage you from buying wallets from name-brand retailers, and high-end fashion houses. Just know that they will not necessarily be of the highest quality compared to other products in their price tier.
Materials and construction
Some wallets are more expensive than others simply because they are constructed out of higher quality materials, and often by hand, which increases their price to that of a premium product.
These sorts of wallets are generally stitched with heavy-duty, waxed or coated thread, made of premium leathers such as chromexcel, horween, calfskin, or even horse leathers, and are quite often imported from Italy or other countries overseas.
Wallets in this category are generally very high quality, and that is the reason for their high price. They are made by the best artisans out of the best materials, and they do carry a price premium to reflect the skill and cost of the materials.
These wallets will often be the very highest quality you can imagine, lasting decades with proper care, which can make them well worth the cost when you consider the cost compared to replacing a cheaper wallet every couple of years.
What’s wrong with cheap wallets?
Well, nothing at all! They’re usually made out of more inexpensive materials, and crafted by machines rather than by hand. This certainly makes them cheaper, but it also makes them less durable. Even still, most inexpensive wallets will surely give you several years of use, making them a fine deal for what you pay for them, and even being more beneficial for those of us who like to try different types of wallets without paying an arm and a leg.
Should I buy an expensive wallet or a cheap wallet?
Well, the answer isn’t that simple. If you enjoy brand name merchandise, you may want to look into a wallet from a high-end boutique brand such as Ralph Lauren or Versace, but you’ll want to bear in mind that you’re mostly paying for the brand name.
On the other hand, if you want a superbly crafted, high quality wallet, you may want to look into some less well-known manufacturers using very high quality leathers and materials. Even still, expensive wallets aren’t for everyone.
When you get down to it, it’s a matter of taste. Some people will be just as happy with a $35 wallet from their local department store as others would be with a $400 wallet made out of flawless lambskin, hand-manufactured in a monastery in Croatia. It’s a matter of taste, and knowing yourself.
Compared to inexpensive wallets, we certainly do think that expensive wallets are worth the cost – they’re not just a waste of money – especially when you consider how long they last. However, if you know you’re not in the habit of keeping a wallet for more than a couple of years, or don’t mind some wear and tear, you may be happier with a more inexpensive (but still high quality!) wallet.
Check out some of our lists of wallets and figure out what you’re interested in for yourself!