Wallets are one of the most popular items in men’s fashion accessories, and is it any wonder? Men have very few ways in which they can express their individual style and a wallet is certainly a way for a guy to do that.
When we started Watson & Wolfe back in November 2016, we had intended to use animal leather and at that time, nobody had an objection to us producing leather wallets. In the late spring of 2017, things took a turn and decided to drop the whole idea of leather. You can read our later article Lessons in Leather to understand why we made this decision.
Shortly after this, I went vegan and decided to make W&W a cruelty free company, with an emphasis on being as environmentally friendly as possible.
"So surely, ALL men, regardless of their lifestyle choice, have the
right to carry a beautifully made wallet, right?"
During my research of the vegan accessories space, the first thing that struck me was the distinct lack of high quality items for men. It was easy enough to buy a wallet made from cork or hemp, or wallets made from PVC, but I couldn't find anything that had comparable quality to a luxury leather accessory. What if I don’t like cork? What if I wanted to carry a traditional looking, handmade wallet, which is smart, and comparable with the leather one I have always carried?
The enthusiasm I had for this new business direction, wasn't shared, and I was hit with a lot of scepticism. Some of the comments I received from both friends and family includes, ‘there isn't a demand’, ‘maybe vegan men don’t want that’ ‘maybe the market is too small’.
I found it inconceivable that you couldn't buy a luxury, well-made vegan wallet in the UK, which had the same level of quality as an animal leather wallet. Most vegans don’t stop eating meat because they dislike the taste. It isn't the look and feel of leather that is the problem, it’s where it’s comes from and how it came to be. So, what if I could produce a 100% cruelty free wallet which looked and felt like a leather one, but was made with my new core values...
As it turned out, there were some challenges to face if we want to make a truly authentic range of handmade wallets. The weeks went by, and the design and finish of the wallets evolved as I learnt more about the materials available to us. One of the biggest things to overcome was the squeak. It was apparent that most PU leathers squeak, if you rub the material with your finger. This didn't sounds very luxurious. Hence, many of the materials we tested were unsuitable; too stretchy, not enough stretch, too shiny, too thin, the list goes on. If you want to know more about the various types of vegan leather, take a look at our Complete Guide to Vegan Leather.
The search for the right external material took months and just when I thought it didn't exist, we found it. A beautifully soft, smooth, lightly grained material which not only looked and felt like real leather, but it didn't squeak! What is more, it is 50% more sustainable compared to other vegan leathers. We aim to be 100% transparent about our materials and our supply chain, and you can always read up to date information on our materials page.
I was totally convinced that we could produce a vegan wallet that was unlike anything on the market. And we did.
But more than this. We are also making one of the most sustainable wallets on the market too. Lined with high quality fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, we have made every consideration to lower the footprint of the collection wherever possible. Even the zip tape on our travel wallets is made from recycled bottles and the lining of our wash bags is made without any harmful chemicals.
In October 2018, we despatched our first wallet and even now, I am more committed than ever to making Watson & Wolfe your go to luxury, sustainable accessories brand.
I will leave you with this... If you believe in something, follow your instinct and don’t be deterred by the sceptics!