A few months back I excitedly ordered a Slimfold Wallet ($20) by designer Dave Zuverink who curiously (and quite awesomely) branched out from UI design to the world of physical goods. So it’s a great idea and a seemingly good execution – let’s see how it holds up in real life.
First off, it hasn’t been long enough. Wallets are one of the few things that we seem to keep forever. There are probably more fingers on one hand than the number of wallets I’ve owned in my life and my most recent, a Kenneth Cole leather trifold will probably wait patiently on a shelf just in case this new kid doesn’t stand up to time.
The product itself is very professionally presented for an Etsy buy. It’s plastic packaged and comes with brief instructions for those who have never, I guess, carried money in any form before? A touch, though, that adds credibility. It’s made of Tyvek which is a high density polyethylene fiber that they use for packaging and house wraps since it’s highly breathable but resistant to water. It’s light weight and has a sort of matte sheen with an expected fibrous texture. There’s something in us that equates lightweight with cheapness – titanium rings an example – it just feels fragile and papery. Everyone who I’ve shown this to has that same reaction of “You’re going to use this to protect money?” with the raised eyebrow subtext of “Wow. How brave.” to their credit, I thought the same thing for the first few days.
It’s a material that, if you’ve tried to open a package made from it you’ve come to know, cuts a lot easier than it rips. On that front, it seems pretty sturdy for the in and out of pocket stress it’ll experience. As long as I don’t leave it anywhere near scissors or knives it should be alright. It’s stitched with a thin thread that seems sufficient and the fold line could be described as reinforced though I doubt it’s required. While we’re focused on the fold I will say it’s not exactly a perfect angle, and not by design. Whoever folded it was a tad off, so when closed the two far edges don’t exactly line up. A minor thing found negligible in use, but tweaked my designer OCD as soon as got it. The slots for cards have held up surprisingly well – I thought for sure those would be the first to go. So far, so good. They are a little stiff in the beginning but relax with use and are perfectly fine after a week or two.
It looks good, I think, though I’ve heard the opposite from friends. In a sudden flash of uncharacteristic boldness I clicked ‘buy’ on the orange one. Since my wardrobe is almost exclusively greyscale it’s a pretty nice pop of colour. For people who actually wear coloured clothes, the charcoal options would be quite handsome too, and will cover the tragic dirtiness factor I’ll get into later. There’s a small printed logo and recycle sign on the front and inside corners respectively which appeals to my minimalism. It’d be cool, I think, to have a Spinnaker style design-your-own graphic option. Customize them a bit with pre-existing graphics or submit your own monotone vectors for print.
There is a qualm that I have here: it’s a different shape than I’d like. Or! Perhaps more accurately: than I’m used to. With a trifold you align the cards vertically and the whole wallet is vertical in your pocket creating a taller profile at the expense of being thicker in depth. This being a simple fold means the vertical cards end up being horizontal in the pocket which was, at first, an awkward extra width. Honestly, I’m not sure I like that. If they made a trifold out of this same material I’d probably spring for that. Of course, this main idea is to take down that depth which brings me to my next point:
It’s frightening to carry around. I say this with an all due tongue-in-cheek nod to it’s brilliance. I don’t notice it. It bends and flexes enough to stay stealthy in my back pocket and being virtually weightless means there’s no reassuring tug when walking. It’s a nervous thing, though, because now I’m paranoid and constantly checking. Will I get used to this? Probably. I’ve already gotten better over the past weeks. I can be sitting directly on it and have that quick pang of “oh no! where’s my wallet?!” worry. Part of me calls that an annoyance or a problem, but that’s sort of why people would buy the product in the first place, isn’t it?
There is an actual problem with the fibrous texture: it gets dirty. Really dirty. I work in a clean office, I drive a fairly clean car. My jean pockets aren’t lined with ink rollers. How does it get this grimy?
Which becomes my only real suggestion: maybe get the charcoal or black version. The orange, for obvious reasons, isn’t really great at hiding that dirt patina.
TL;DR The build has held up remarkably well after the brief months and I don’t see it going downhill anytime soon. I wish it would stay clean, is all. For $20, I say try it. Why not?