Mill Handmade – Everett wallets review

In another installment of awesome leathers, I’m very excited to show you a couple more of Rocky’s creations via Mill Handmade.

Readers of this blog will have seen a few pieces from Rocky featured here since 2016, and I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear that there are a few more pieces from Rocky’s Mill Handmade atelier to be featured this year, plus there will be a special guest article from Rocky about his adventures in Japan coming up soon too!

Today, we’ll be having a look at Rocky’s new Everett wallets – a thoughtful and classy take on the double-outer styles of the folded wallet.

As this will be a photo and content heavy post, let’s cut the introduction short and dive right in.

 

Design

The basic Everett wallet is a smaller sized, mid-fold wallet. It measures approximately 10.5 cm in height and 8.5 cm in width.

With work-wear style and minimalism as inspiration, Rocky has refined the double-layer outer style of work wallet into a very streamlined, one-piece outer design.

The standard double-layer outer wallet utilises two pieces of leather on the outer to create a bill compartment – rugged, but clumsy. Rocky has created the Everett so that one piece of leather forms the outer as well as the accent panels on the inner, with the leather cut and stitched as seen in the photos here to create the bill compartment.

The two Everett wallets here showcase the two basic inner layouts available – one with a coin compartment and the other with maximized card carrying capacity.

The brown Everett features snap closure for the wallet, as well as a snap closed pocket for coins. There is a card pocket on the opposite side, but also a quick access card slot just below the coin pocket.

And thus, with three pieces of leather, Rocky has creates four compartments.

The tan Everett is a full capacity card wallet, with one card compartment and one quick access card slot per side.

Similarly then, with four pieces of leather, Rocky gives us five compartments in total.

The basic layout is versatile and adaptable to suit different needs, making the Everett a worthwhile customisation project.

 

Function

Being a smaller folded wallet, scaled down somewhat compared to the average bifold wallet, the Everett wallet is very easy to carry and handle.

Even when loaded and folded, the wallet is not too much thicker than 1 cm.

The quick access slots are rather easy to use, giving the option to retrieve one card per slot with a swipe of the thumb. The card storage compartments will hold multiple cards, but retrieving any one card will require a little more dexterity compared with, say, taking a card out from a traditional billfold wallet.

The bill compartment on the outer is functionally similar to that on a billfold, but doesn’t open quite as wide.

Without distorting the shape of the wallet, the version featuring the coin pocket could carry 3 to 5 cards and a handful of coins, whereas the card-carrier version will carry 6 to 10 cards easily, depending on your stacking preference (personally, I don’t like stacking cards.)

Overall, the Everett wallet is compact and versatile. Whilst minimalist in nature, it is easy to use and has enough capacity to meet every day usage or light travel needs.

 

Leather

These Everett wallets feature Rocky’s choice of leather combinations, but I think he knows a little something about my leather preferences…

The dark brown leather on the snap closed wallet is pretty amazing – it’s Shonan Leather’s brown saddle leather!

As I have mentioned in an earlier review of Mill Handmade’s Japanese wallet:

Shonan Leathers is a small tannery in Himeji, Japan.

…relatively small and low-tech tannery, being one of the few tanneries in the entire world that continues to pit-tan their hides. It was incorporated over 70 years ago as an amalgamation of several smaller tanning operations.

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 saddle leathers thus produced could then be drum dyed (either black or brown) and even glazed – the result is a small catalogue of Mimosa tanned leathers available in three colours and a couple of different finishes.

…Such is Shonan’s quality and reputation for graceful aging, many Japanese craftsmen use only Shonan leather despite the high cost.

This is one of the very best leathers in the world, and probably my favourite leather on a wallet! The grain growth is incredible, and opens up even more with use. The leather is rather dense, and wears gracefully even when used as a back-pocket wallet.

First hand experience tells me that Shonan’s saddle leather ages very well. Whilst Baker’s pit-tanned oak bark leather may be thick, dense and tough (a great belting leather for sure, maybe the best), Shonan’s version is much more responsive and achieves patina more quickly & dramatically.

The brown version of Shonan’s saddle leather you see here is very interesting indeed… it has a blue undertone, giving the wallet is slightly purple shade.

For the inner base-layer of this wallet, Conceria Walpier’s Buttero leather features again. You’ll have seen quite a bit of Buttero on this blog over the past year or so. It is a modern style of veg tan and is a great choice for the wallet’s inner or lining.

Buttero’s relatively firm temper compared with other veg tanned leathers as well as its slippery finish means that Buttero can help a wallet hold its shape, and is very easy to keep clean. Buttero leather is quite uniform in grain, and comes in a bewildering range of colours.

The card carrier version of the Everett features another Italian leather, on the outer this time – Badalassi Carlo’s Minerva Box. You might have seen this leather on some special edition Japanese boots!

This particular iteration of the Minerva, as the Box version, is milled so that the grain is accentuated, giving quite a different aesthetic compared with the Liscio (smooth) version you have seen previously on this blog.

Minerva Box is a fair bit softer compared with the Buttero, but has a tough grain that wears nicely, developing a more prominent pattern in the grain as time goes by. Minerva is more responsive compared to Buttero, in that the colour becomes deeper and richer much more quickly.

The inner base-layer is made with the visually striking Pueblo, another of Badalassi Carlo’s offerings. Pueblo has a very variegated colour, almost marbled in appearance, which is rather notable especially on the darker colours of this leather. This is a vegetable leather of course, though at first the texture and the grain appearance is rather different from the more traditional finish on the Minerva leathers.

Initially, the grain has a slightly fluffy, almost suede-like feel, and there is no growth (pore structure) discernible. However, as the Pueblo acquires patina, the grain definition appears and the leather starts to take on a more usual “full grain” appearance.

Similar to the Minerva, the Pueblo is very responsive – tending to show scratch marks and card outlines rather easily, and it is a great option for those who prefer rugged aging in their leathers.

 

Construction

These two Everett wallets share the same basic construct.

What we have here are wallets that are hand-cut, hand-stitched and hand-burnished. Given the handmade nature, every one of his wallets can be customised in not just colours, but more importantly in layout and details. The differences between these two Everett wallets has illustrated this fact.

The first thing I noted was that, given how only one piece of leather forms the outer, the bill compartment and half of the inner, the precision required in cutting is pretty remarkable. Rocky has done this well, as both wallets demonstrate good symmetry and impeccable matching of the different leather pieces.

The handmade saddle-stitching has been executed very nicely too, with great regularity at a density of 8 SPI. The tension of the stitches is pretty good, with the threads sitting just a little above the grain of the leathers. The Lin cable thread used here is a high quality thread, and should last for many years of heavier use.

The crossing over of the stitching over panels is fantastically neat – the threads have not cut through the leather, testament to not only careful sewing but considered use of the awl.

Rocky has elected to edge crease all the edges too, a finer point in detailing which I do appreciate on more refined wallets. Here, the framing effect of the creasing combines well with the curves that Rocky has introduced to the inner layouts.

These curves not only give the wallet visual interest, but also helps to minimize bulk and grant quick-access potential to the top slots on either side.

An aspect of Rocky’s work that has received special attention from him recently is the edge finish. On these two Everett wallets, Rocky has burnished all the visible edges in such a way that the edges are smooth, but not too glossy, creating very cool ‘sandwich’ effects. 

The sandwich effect is a little bit more dramatic with leathers that have been dyed through, so with a Shonan outer it is not as pronounced. I love this look!

Of course, such an effect is only possible when the paneling and edge work are neatly done.

Additionally, where the outer leather has been cut, Rocky has terminate the cut with a circular punch to ensure that the leather does not crease dramatically with repeated opening of the notes compartment.

Finally, on the wallet featuring snap button closure, Rocky has utilized his usual stock of plated solid brass Prym snap fasteners, which are smooth operators indeed.

Overall? Well made with some of the finest materials.

 

Thoughts

The Everett wallet, I feel, is a testament to Rocky’s innovation in his leather work. Not only does Rocky make really beautiful pieces, through his Mill Handmade workshop he is also constantly developing innovative wallet designs which are sleek & functional. I think here in lies a major point of difference for Rocky and his brand.

The vast majority of what I’ve sees on the market in the last couple of years has been more of the same Americana with very little innovation and rather average workmanship – somehow rugged is now almost synonymous with roughly made, and most seem to be focusing on the same style of small card wallets which offer no visual impact and say very little of character or style.

Rocky, however, has been committing brain juice and elbow grease in starting Mill Handmade, resulting in his profile of work being many steps ahead of similarly priced competitors in the same Western markets, after just two years of officially launching his brand.

Further, much akin to myself, Rocky is interested in all sorts of strange and wonderful leathers, and finely studies each one he stocks. Hence, Mill Handmade wallets are available in the very best leathers from around the globe, giving the potential for some very unique combinations in colour, texture and grain patina.

Even though minimalist carry is not necessarily my cup of tea – as you know, I’m always up for a monster bifold or an exotic mid-wallet – I do think that Rocky’s Japanese-influenced aesthetic appeals to me quite a bit, and allows his more refined designs to work in well with my collection of mostly Japanese denim and work-garments.

Rocky’s work on these two Everett wallets blends work-style ruggedness with the finesse of a bespoke wallet. I’m aware that Rocky’s house-style tends towards minimalism and a sleek, classic appearance, and so in making goods for me, he’s taking a small step outside his comfort zone and tackling slightly thicker leathers and a more rugged silhouette.

The use of cards, cash and smartphones for payment varies across the globe of course. Many of my Chinese friends are telling me how the vast majority of their daily transactions in China now occur via the WeChat app on their phone, and as a result they don’t carry wallets anymore, but might simply carry one or two cards in their phone cover.

This is the opposite of my experience in Australia, where we tend to need many cards and a little bit of cash to get us through the day, necessitating at least a small wallet for daily use.

The Everett wallet is sized well to adapt to both situations: it can function as an accessory card wallet or my daily carrier, it can slip into my jacket or my jeans, and it straddles the line between work-style and gentlemen’s style, so that I don’t have to swap out wallets between work and play.

I do think that Rocky’s mix of varying influences allow his work, such as these Everett wallets, to be more versatile than most.

Consider, too, that Rocky’s work is ever improving. With each Mill Handmade wallet I own, the edges are getting smoother, the stitches more regular and the overall finishing closer to impeccable each time.

All in all, starting at $140 AUD ($110 USD), the Everett wallets from Mill Handmade represent not only great value, but simply fantastic design and great craftsmanship regardless of price considerations. Given Rocky’s continuing investment into craftsmanship and fine tuning of designs, his pieces represent even better purchase compared with when I reviewed his work for the first time in 2016.

If you haven’t already, check out his beautiful website (and amazing photos!) at his Mill Handmade website.

 

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