By Jon Gaffney
on 6.26.09

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Braithwaite Wallets, the brainchild(ren) of designer Connor Ferster, offers products borne of a passion for and a commitment to excellence. Connor is so discerning and zealous for quality that it took him two years to wade through crappy prototypes to finally get his product line where he wanted it. As a guy who obsesses over the details, I respect that.

Made of the same leathers as Coach bags and held together with kevlar stitching and the occasional YKK zipper, Braithwaite Wallets are not made to be disposable. My compadre Dusty and I jumped at a chance to demo two of their current wallets, the Vagabond and Cypress. Hit the jump for our take on each.

braithwaite-wallets-frontThe Vagabond

This wallet is one of Connor’s personal creations (some of Braithwaite’s offerings are designed by others artists), and it’s a looker. Made for those of us who are (or strive to be) a bit of a rolling stone. Traipsing across the Europe, the country, or the county, the Vagabond is supposed to keep your essentials protected and easily accessible. Connor’s description beats anything Elaine and Kramer busted out for J. Peterman, so I’ll stick to my impressions.

Made of “Brigand” leather, it not only looks/feels great, but the Vagabond sheds water like a champion. Combined with it’s zip shut design, it thrives in adverse weather (i.e. NYC for me last weekend, or everyday in Maine). The interior arrangement is well thought out and executed. Slots for 8 cards are well spaced out and edged with more “Brigand” leather. The fine silk lining of the interior pockets makes retrieving your cash or passport a breeze, as they slip in and out easily (insert perfunctory “That’s what she said!”).

Traveling the other weekend I had no problem fitting all my essentials into the Vagabond (a slew of cards, my passport, parking tickets, room key, cash, even a moleskine). My conclusion is that the Vagabond is the quintisessential travel wallet for men; Rick Steves, eat your heart out, sir! Oh, and the steampunk-esque aesthetic is a nice touch, as well.

Cost: $133

Now I’ll turn it over to Mr. Overby and his impressions of Braithwaite’s Cypress.

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Cypress

I’ve long been a victim of wallet overload, a condition that I suspect afflicts many of you as well. I’m glad to say that, thanks to the Braithwaite Cypress, those days are behind me. Connor designed this wallet as his take on the ubiquitous money clip. Having carried such a money holder years back, I was anxious to tote this reimagining for comparision. Let’s just say that I’m more than impressed with Braithwaite’s clip-less creation.

For my everyday jaunts, I truly didn’t need to wag 90% of the junk that was weighing down my back pocket. Now packing the truly minimalist Cypress that stylishly safeguards my essential cards and (on a good day) some cash, I no longer feel like I’m sitting on a rock. Whereas I had become prone to forgetting my wallet in my glovebox or desk drawer (just to keep from having to pocket it), I now barely sense it’s presense.

Enough about the wallet’s utility, because the real joy is in the luxurious, yet straightforward design. The high quality, aromatic leather has a wood-grain appearance; this texture offers individuality to each wallet produce, and I’m already pleased at the signs of its aging. Like it’s larger sibling above, the Cypress is stitched with Kevlar thread lined with silk charmeuse for even greater ease in parting with your cash. It’s also notable that the wallet seals tightly shut with a magnetic closure that’s strong enough to keep the Cypress together but not so strong as to demagnetize your tools of trade (credit cards). The bottom line is this: save for taste (not tested), the Braithwaite Cypress is a delight to all the senses.

Cost: $97

It’s worth mentioning that Braithwaite is so sure you’ll be satisfied with their wallets that they offer a bang-up guarantee. If, in the first 10 days with your wallet, you’re not satisfied for any reason, they’ll “buy it back,” even sending a courier to pick it up. They also offer a lifetime craftsmanship guarantee against performance failure (again, “That’s what she said!”). Having sampled their work, however, I doubt these promises have to be fulfilled very often.

Though you may take our good opinion to heart, we certainly aren’t the only men to have fallen under the spell of Braithwaite’s worthy offering. See what others guys have to say as well.

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