Every Wallet Should Be Saddle-Stitched by an English Master Leathersmith

These puppies are svelte, sumptuous and built to last

August 1, 2018 9:00 am

Despite the unfortunate name, Etsy isn’t all popsicle-stick sculptures and kitten sweaters. Enter: Debunking Etsy, a bimonthly column profiling all the wonderfully talented craftsmen who use the site to peddle well-built, hard-wearing and handsome goods for your home and person.

Why do we make peace with products that let us down?

Consider the T-shirt that shrinks mightily in the dryer but receives a reincarnation as a painting tee. Or the cracked phone screen that goes unfixed, inviting gymnastic finger maneuvers just to hail an Uber.

Look: not every given thing you buy in life will make you proud. But when it comes to certain purchases, tepid compromise should be forgotten. And wallets are one of them.

Kingsley Thompson knows the disappointment of a threadbare wallet. Unable to find a model that could go the distance, and unwilling to waste more cash, he decided to make his own, toiling over the end result until he was sure he could count on it. He made a couple more for impressed friends, continued to study the craft, and two years later quit his office job to launch Kingsley Leather.

His Cheltenham, England-based Etsy shop doesn’t just make wallets, though. Thompson is a full-fledged leather craftsman, a modern online-retail entrepreneur by way of ancient, cobblestoned main street, with a selection of wares that ranges from bi-folds to sunglass cases to bow ties. He’s even got an iPhone case to protect that unfortunate screen of yours.

Thompson’s products are thoughtfully sourced: his main leather supplier is based in Northampton (a small city known in part for its shoemaking) while the hardware on his pieces (belt buckles, e.g.) is cast using traditional methods in industrial Walsall, a town historically associated with saddleries.

And as with that first wallet, Thompson assembles his products using a careful saddle-stitch method. It’s time consuming and has often forced him to revise his methods (the bow tie is on its third iteration), but it works. Each of Thompson’s pieces is as hearty as it is handsome, just like the lion emblazoned on it.

Thompson hopes to add more products soon — themed around travel and weddings, most likely — but his offerings already run 25 variations deep, all of them approachably priced, and none of them something you’ll have to “make peace with.”

Below: six of our favorites from the Kingsley Leather collection.

Bi-fold Leather Wallet
The Grand Poobah. Six card slots in a burnished, genuine vegetable-tanned cowhide billfold, handmade with immaculate attention to detail. This one’s moving into your pocket for a long, long time. 


Personalized Cufflinks
Strange evolutionary quirk: guys can’t remember to buy themselves cufflinks. File these away for Pops, your brother, your brother-in-law as a gift. They’re offered in tan, dark brown and black, all with stamped monograms. 


Leather Bow Tie
Thompson’s personal favorite order to fulfill, and it’s not hard to see why. Great for stealing glances at a Western-themed wedding.


Sunglasses Case
Why spend money on a treasured pair of sunnies only to let ’em scratch, dent or get tossed in the catch-all with your keys? There is a better way, people. 


Leather Belt
A strong counter to our statement belts piece from earlier this month. Meet Mr. Reliable, the handsome, unsung hero keeping it together (and everything in place) day in and day out. 


iPhone Case
Surefire way to spend less time on your phone? Keep it tucked inside of this gorgeous case.


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