mill handmade – Frankie wallet review

I’ve got a very interesting piece of leather craft to show you today. It’s something a little different from the usual hefty billfolds and work-style mid-wallets that you’ve seen on this blog.

Rocky over at mill handmade has been designing new wallets and updating existing wallet models at a pretty prodigious rate over the past year, not only optimising the layouts and styling, but also expanding on the range of stocked leathers as well as further refining the hand-crafting involved. Every time I catch up with him, he’s working on something new or refining an old design.

This latest wallet is called the ‘Frankie‘ – the largest card wallet available from mill handmade at this time, and it represents a refinement of the concepts behind the development of the Elliot card wallet, which you’ve see on this blog already.

Without too much ado, let’s check out the details of this very intriguing card wallet!

Design

The basic version of the Frankie wallet – which you can view at Rocky’s website – is, simplistically speaking, a double sided version of the Elliot wallet ver. 2.

mill handmade is all about customisation of course, and for this particular wallet Rocky has made a few modifications for me which are not found on the basic Frankie wallet, including: layered spine with arcuates, thicker leathers for more rugged use, and a doubling of inner pockets from two to four.

My particular iteration of the Frankie wallet is 10.6 cm wide and 16.2 cm tall. When folded, the height is approximately halved to 7.45 cm, accounting for the curvature of the spine.

When packed with some cards and bills, the thickness comes in at 1.6 cm compressed.

All in all, this is very much still a card wallet sized carrier, being a bit smaller than a traditional billfold. Rocky has attempted to inject a rugged dose of workwear flavor into my Frankie wallet by using slightly thicker leathers and adding the arcuates to the spine. This is a classy wallet nevertheless; the regular version of the Frankie wallet would be a great match with a tailored suit jacket.

On the inside there are four card pockets on my Frankie wallet, compared with the usual two pockets. The outer most pockets (top pocket on both sides) act as quick access card slots, whilst the bottom pockets can hold cards and other miscellaneous items.

I’ve gone rogue and used the bottom pockets as a bill holder. 🙂

Leather

Brown saddle leather from Shonan Leathers feature as the accent layer on the spine, forming the arcuates on both sides of the outshell. This is one of the very best vegetable tanned leathers in the world: top grade raw hides are imported from the USA, and tanned using wooden equipment in African Mimosa tannin pits for approximately 2 to 3 months. The raw saddle leather is then drum dyed and glazed.

This saddle leather features very nice grain growth, and should be – according to my own experience with the natural version of this leather – an incredible performer in terms of aging and patina development down the track.

The Dollaro leather from Conceria Walpier (the guys who make Buttero) is the main character here. This is a vegetable tanned leather with a printed grain, a finer version of artificially grained leathers such as football leathers and zug leathers. Dollaro has a higher resistance to scratching compared with most other vegetable tanned leathers, and is slightly stiff, with a somewhat compressed handfeel. It is quite luxurious in the hand, and gives the entire wallet a very textured look.

Rocky has subtly included a dual toned configuration with this wallet. If you look closely, you’ll see one side of the wallet features the Dollaro in golden brown colour, and the other side has it in chocolate colour.

Chevre goatskin in the fauve colour from the French tannery Alran has been used for the inner lining, providing an interesting contrast to the texture of the Dollaro leathers on either side. This goatskin is renown for its durability and depth of texture, being finely grained yet resistant to scratches and water.

Chevre goatskin is not going to produce the same degree of patina as the other leathers featured on this Frankie wallet, but it has higher degrees of resistances and keeps much cleaner than veg tanned leathers. It will perform very well as a liner.

Construction

Rocky has blended bespoke crafting details into this workwear caliber wallet.

The hand saddle-stitch of waxed linen threading is nicely done – fairly precise with good regularity, at a higher level compared with the very first Elliot wallet from mill handmade last year.

The 8 SPI stitching is dense and well threaded, sitting nicely on top of both the Shonan and Dollaro leathers. I like the contrast between the threading and the leathers.

The stitching runs neatly parallel with the edges and creasing.

The edge creasing is precise also, being sufficiently deep to add visual detail to the textured Dollaro leathers. The crease work ties in the edge work with the leathers & threads quite well.

Plated solid brass Prym snap fasteners make another welcomed appearance here. These fasteners are very smooth, with the right tension to balance an easy opening with a secure closure.

The edge work here is nicely done, with four layers of leather aligned and hand-burnished with wax. No fluff or odd protrusions, smooth to the touch.

The clear wax burnish allows the visualization of the Chevre lining leather as well. Pretty cool!

Viewing from the edge you’ll also notice how the threads sit nicely on top of the level – not so aggressively pulled as to cut into the leather, and with enough tension that the threads don’t jut out too much.

Thoughts

The modified Frankie wallet is my fourth wallet from mill handmade in the past 12 months, and it’s been great to see the progressive increase in detailing and skill displayed in the successive wallets. Certainly with this wallet Rocky’s ticked quite a few boxes for me with regards to quality of construction and detailing.

This wallet not only showcases some bespoke crafting details, but also the degree of customisation available through getting your leather goods made by Rocky. The flexibility of customisation is, of course, very important when it comes to fine leathers. More so than a belt or shoe or watch, I do think that the wallet a man chooses to carry is more of a reflection of himself than any garment or accessory – it goes with us everywhere, it is not an outward display to be seen by others, and it is an item which receives active/interactive use. By virtue of providing choices in not only materials but also design, Rocky offers a big incentive for choosing mill handmade for your next wallet project. I’m pretty chuffed with the extra-rugged build, the increased number of pockets and the arcuate accent on my custom Frankie.

As far as value for money, not only is the quality of construct increasing consistently, but also in terms of detailing and material selection, Rocky is truly turning out some top end, luxury builds. Simply consider that this card wallet features Dollaro panels, Alran Chevre lining and Shonan saddle leather accent! There are not many makers who will stock or even offer such world class leathers, not to mention Rocky offer his crafts are a fair price – the basic versions of the Frankie wallet, excepting the shell cordovan options, are priced at only $70 AUD. The value proposition here is pretty spectacular.

All in all, I’m intrigued and pleased by this Frankie wallet. A little different from what I’d usually choose for my main wallet, but I’m getting much enjoyment from using the Frankie wallet. Further to that, I must say that Rocky’s enthusiasm and passion when it comes to this hobby is really second to none, and he is at the same time very approachable and responsive too. Rocky’s constantly exploring interesting leathers, new designs and being thoughtful about this hobby.

If you like Rocky’s style of work, which blends vintage detailing with minimalist bespoke styling, there’s no questioning that he’s the man to make your next wallet. Check him out here!

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