Mill Handmade – Hans wallet review

I have a clever little wallet to show you!

Check out this little guy from Rocky at Mill Handmade: This is his new design, the Hans wallet, which is small but mighty.

As you know, Rocky’s work is some of my favourite, with most of his designs closer to the bespoke style of gentlemen’s carry goods but also many pieces inspired by Japanese leather crafting and workwear. As someone who likes to follow trends and designs in wallets, Rocky’s work stands out for me as he is consistently coming up with some very stylish yet functional designs, with his base models constantly being upgraded too.

With the Hans wallet, Rocky takes minimalism to the next step, with clean aesthetics and also an ingenious construct. Let’s take a look at the details.

 

Design

The Hans wallet is on the smaller side in terms of surface area, measuring just 8 cm tall and 10 cm wide when closed.

Very much palm sized, and easy to handle.

Its carrying capacity is mostly due to the volume that the extra thickness imparts and how this vertical space is utilized.

The wallet measures around 2 cm thick when fully loaded and uncompressed.

The flap covers half the height of the wallet. As I usually wear my wallets in the back pocket, Rocky has made this version of the Hans wallet without a snap closure on the flap.

The clever thing here is that this wallet is made of one single piece of out-shell leather, folded in on itself to form a flapped tube. By further folding this tube in half, Rocky has then created the storage compartments within.

The top compartment provides quick access card storage, whilst the bottom compartment can be used as a catch-all pouch for cards, cash, coins, etc.

The compartments are further lined by a grained leather. As a result of this vertical stacking of leather layers, this wallet is not insubstantial.

 

Function

Due to the spaciousness of the two compartments, the Hans wallet has the same carrying capacity as a large bifold or mid-wallet which mostly rely on slots for storage.

It can hold around a dozen cards – maybe a couple less if you also want to use this wallet as a coin pouch.

Access to cards and other content is made easier by the grooves along the top edge. This is one of the more user friendly compartment based designs.

 

Leather

The main character on this wallet is Badalassi Carlo’s Pueblo leather.

I’ve previously covered this leather briefly on the blog, but the Han’s wallet is the best showcase of this peculiar leather yet.

Rocky has utilised the Pueblo at 1.25 mm (or 3 oz) for this wallet.

What is immediately striking about this vegetable tanned Italian leather is the variegated appearance. You might say, visually, the grain is rather marbled.

On touching the leather, it feels remarkably suede-like…hard to believe this is actually a top grain leather!

The Pueblo is not soft like most suede though. I would say it’s fairly rigid as far as a vegetable tanned leather is concerned.

If you look really closely, the pores on the grain are discernible.

I have used Pueblo before, so I know that as this leather ages, the colour deepens, the variegation reduces and the pores of the grain become more defined. The sheen increases rather quickly too.

The treatment that this leather undergoes is still a mystery to me. It’s a rather fun leather though, and it offers more potential for patina development then what you might think at first glance.

The colour can be rather vibrant, depending on lighting.

The lining is made with Italpel’s Box leather.

The milled leather is rather hardy, and the natural grain is pronounced and textural. This makes for a great lining leather for sure, but I also feel it could work just as well for an out-shell leather given its strength and texture.

If I had the $$$ I’d upholster my furniture in this leather!

Rocky has used Box leather at 0.75 mm (around 2 oz) here, lining the flap and the bases of both compartments.

 

Construct

As mentioned previously, this wallet is made using a ‘one-piece’ design, i.e. the entire out-shell is one continuous piece of leather. This origami style of construct is testament to the Japanese influence that underlie some of Rocky’s work.

Rocky’s cutting and folding work here is very neat indeed – it has to be, or else this design cannot have materialized into a workable end product.

All the layers, stacking one atop another, comes out look neat and smooth. There are no protrusions along any edges or pieces of leather that doesn’t fit.

The opposing ends of the leather are skived, glued and stitched in a way that the thickness remains consistent along any panel.

A top row of 8 stitches and one single bottom stitch secures the inner ‘spine’ of this wallet.

The bottom edge of the wallet is the folded edge of the entire out-shell.

Here, using some clever cutting work, Rocky has minimized bulk and eliminated any awkward protrusions.

As previously mentioned, the compartments are half-lined with Box leather. Here, careful cutting, gluing and sewing have seamlessly integrated the box lining within the origami of the whole.

Rocky has saddle stitched the entire wallet by hand, using contrast threads, at a density of 8 SPI!

Wheat coloured threads run along the edges of the flap, looking very regular and neat.

The inner is minimally sewn.

Only one inch of stitching is visible here.

The edge work of this wallet is nicely done indeed.

Rocky combines very defined edge creasing with smooth, painted edges to give the wallet extra slickness.

The polished edge work has been applied to all the visible edges.

All in all, from every angle, the Hans wallet is buttery smooth – hats off to the considered handcraft!

 

Thoughts

I’ve been consistently impressed by the work that has come out of the workshop at Mill Handmade – Rocky’s work is ever improving and expanding, and in the short span of two years I feel like his wallets have grown from hobby crafter quality to pieces that could be labelled as professionally made.

Everything from the constantly evolving designs and the ever improving sewing really highlight Rocky’s dedication. The sense I get here is that he is aiming for master quality work. Mill Handmade isn’t just another ‘me too’ hobby crafting brand.

The Hans wallet reviewed here is another step upwards in terms of sophistication of both design and handcraft compared with the earlier Elliot wallets. With this wallet, Rocky has created another clever and origin design. The neatness and delicacy of the work has been dialed up too.

This is not quite the usual rustic, work-style leathers that I collect, but veering towards the bespoke, gentlemen’s style of carry goods that would look equally good with a pair of jeans or tailored trousers. The Hans is probably a bit too large to be used as a shirt-pocket wallet, and a bit too bulky to be considered a simple card wallet.

The interesting aspect of Rocky’s minimalist presentation of leather goods is that, to achieve this effect, the design and construct of the wallet end up being rather complex, necessitating fastidious and detailed handwork. Despite taking inspiration from workwear, Rocky’s work is more gentlemen’s style than rough & rugged, so a refined overall aesthetic is important: The cutting and paneling needs to be precise, within less than millimeter tolerance for faults. The edge work and sewing need to be very polished – there can’t be any fluffiness or outlier stitches.

A basic version of the Hans wallet, as shown here, is priced at $130 AUD. More expensive leathers, such as shell cordovan and Japanese vegetable tanned leathers, can be had with a surcharge of $10 or $20.  I think the pricing is rather good here, given the quality of work and the excellent leathers on offer.

The Hans wallet by Mill Handmade is highly recommended for those who want to carry a smaller wallet without sacrificing storage capacity or if you’re looking for a piece that is sleeker and more refined compared with the average bifold.

If you haven’t already, head over to Mill Handmade and have a look at this Hans wallet, as well as Rocky’s other excellent designs.

 

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