At the bars and shops around Boston, you don’t have to look too far to see another twenty or thirty something guy still clinging to his Velcro (or, worse, duct tape) wallet. Often these are packed to the brim with not only the usual suspects, but also left-over receipts, library cards – you name it. However, for men, leather accessories should be less fashion and more function. Do you want your wallet or belt to look dope? Of course, but it’s not a handbag. You’re not going to be blowing anyway away with how flashy it is. In my opinion, the best wallets, belts, bags – they’re all classic, minimalist and understated. Their character comes from quality of their construction and the wear they get over time (“patina”), not from anything else.
Fortunately, over the past few years we've seen a resurgence of quality, handmade leather goods from small-batch companies across the US. These companies now offer men an alternative to the mass-produced options available at many department stores and big-brand retailers. These goods hold-out over time, getting more beautiful with age rather than more beaten up.
This past weekend I escaped Boston to head down to Brewster, MA, a beautiful seaside town down on the Cape that is bustling in the summer but serene during the winter months. There I caught up with Eric, the owner and founder of Corter Leather. At Corter, a one-man-solar-powered leather goods operation, Eric specializes in hand making a variety of handsome wallets, belts, key-rings and luggage tags. Rather than building products en masse, Eric has opted to build his brand around small-batch goods that sourced from leather around the world and are “accessible, necessary essentials that age gracefully and uniquely to every owner.”
While Corter is a strong up and coming brand (featured in our local favorite shop, Ball and Buck), Eric's operation faces stiff competition from more established brands like Makr (where I bought my wallet) and the other MA local – Frank Clegg.
The rise of these brands is hopefully a strong indicator that men are beginning to care more about what they keep in their back pockets. Men, your Velcro wallets aren't winning you any battles when you break them out to pay the check – it’s time to consider an upgrade.