Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
Shell cordovan is an interesting beast. Leather is generally considered to be the tanned skin and flesh of animals, but shell cordovan is actually a membrane from below the rump-leather of a horse. It was originally used to make razor strops, but as straight razors declined in popularity shell cordovan began to be used for other products, mainly work-boots.
Today, cordovan is seen as a dressier leather than it was in the past. It’s adored for its lack of creasing and high shine, and is mainly used for footwear, watch straps, and wallets. Due to the small amount of shell that can be produced from each horse, it is very expensive; however, shell’s popularity has risen over the past few years and the market now features several affordable options.
1) Guarded Goods: Bulwark
Very few companies offer affordable shell cordovan wallets, but that isn’t what makes Guarded Goods standout. What really sets Guarded Goods apart from the competition is the huge range of customization options. From the slot configuration to the thread color to the large array of available shells, Guard Goods offers a service that is far better focused on the customer’s desires than any other company.
Available for $220+ from Guarded Goods.
2) Vermilyea Pelle: Shell Cordovan Bifold Wallet in Black
Vermilyea Pelle consistently produces high quality leather goods, and Blue Owl consistently chooses some of the best to stock. This wallet is very simple, having just two card slots and a single bill slot, but isn’t that what most of us want? Confusingly, it comes with two leather coasters and an (admittedly very nice) wooden box, but I ain’t complaining!
Available for $175 from Blueowl.
3) The Flat Head: Full Shell Cordovan Welted Short Wallet in Wine
The Flat Head may be best known for their jeans, but I’m beginning to think that their wallets are where they really shine! And since this is a shell cordovan wallet, I mean literally shine. Ordinarily, short wallets are much more simplistic than long wallets, and feature far fewer compartments; however, that is far from the case for this wallet. It features 4 card slots, a zippered coin pouch, and two bill slots, which should be enough for just about anyone.
Available for $792AUD from Corlection.
4) Ashland Leather: Johnny the Fox Shell Cordovan Bifold in Color #8
Ashland Leather offers another affordable shell cordovan wallet. Simple, clean, and with non-shell horsehide interiors, this wallet has a lot to offer regardless of its price. It’s available in both black and color #8 shell cordovan, both sourced from Horween.
Available for $200 from Ashland Leather.
5) Iron Heart: Folding Shell Cordovan Wallet in Black
Iron Heart is another brand known for their denim that also makes high quality wallets. This wallet is slightly different than the others on this list–it’s designed with a removable interior caddy, which offers additional card slots, and also has a buttoned coin pouch. Combine this with its goat Achilles-tendon thread and you’ve got yourself one hell of a unique wallet.
Available for $550 from Self Edge.
Plus One – One-Piece Shell Cordovan Bi-Fold in Black
It’s hard to come up with unique wallet designs, but this one is certainly different from the majority of wallets on the market. Fashioned from a single piece of shell cordovan, this wallet still manages to feature two card slots and a bill slot, which is no small feat in terms of design. When you consider the cost of cordovan, which can be hundreds of dollars per shell, and the size of the piece needed for a wholecut wallet, it really is a reasonable price.
Available for $299 from Brújula.