The Times They Are A Changing
Over the last generation or two, fashion norms have changed dramatically and in almost every setting from the office to the evening and from vacations for formal occasions. In addition, we’re not just talking about style but also in terms of functionality and form. Just a generation ago, men were wearing suits and ties to work and women were in knee length dresses and high heels. Men carried heavy brief cases and women lugged along large totes or huge purses.
These days, desires for comfort and convenience reign supreme and those who’ve mastered traveling light are the most admired when it comes to fashion and function. Obviously, the smartphone has been key in this progression to “less is more” as it’s replaced the watch, the paper day timer/calendar, and many items traditionally carried in a wallet or handbag. But, especially for women, there are still some items one wants to carry along that even the smartest of phones can’t provide like basic cosmetics, keys, license/ID, and even that old standby called cash. That’s where the phone wristlet has carved out a space in the mind of many and you’re beginning to see many forms of this hands-free solution starting to appear in the market.
Putting the Phone in the Phone Wristlet
Ironically, the biggest functional challenge when designing or considering a phone wristlet is how to carry one’s smartphone. There exists a dizzying array of smartphones in today’s connected society and they come in many different shapes and sizes.
Some people value the ever-larger screen, others prefer a smaller form factor for easy one-handed dialing and scrolling. Some like the slim slide in your front pocket approach while others prefer a thick plastic case to protect their investment in an expensive handheld device.
In addition to the size of the phone, one must consider some other very practical requirements like being able to hear the phone when it rings for example. Most also desire a way to easily retrieve and replace the phone without having to dig around or fuss with snaps and zippers. Finally, whatever solution is devised for carrying the phone, it must also be easy, attractive, and secure.
Already there are many choices of phone wristlets/cases in the market, each having their own plusses and minuses. For example, there are many crossbody style cases that essentially are micro-purses like the one pictured here:
This crossbody style is convenient but it swings around when you bend or twist and has little additional functionality for carrying additional items.
You could also choose to go with a wallet that, well, really looks like a wallet like the one shown below:
This may be a good style fit for some but fitting and securing different sized phones will likely be difficult.
Making a better phone wristlet
Our favorite solution utilizes the form fitting elasticity of thin premium leather. Using a leather sleeve answers most, if not all, of the requirements laid out above and does so in a way that is less likely to break or wear out than solutions that involve snaps, zippers, or Velcro. We’ve observed first-hand the way the leather stretches and forms for a custom fit on most sizes of phones creating a memory shape that makes retrieval and replacement increasingly easy/better with age and wear. The open corners and heavy detailed stitching you see in the picture above, gives lots of flexibility in terms of the size of phone being carried and ensures a little stretching to fit larger phones won’t end up tearing or separating seams.
What Else Must A Phone Wallet Carry?
Now that we’ve dealt with the phone, it’s time to turn to the other items likely to be carried in a modern phone wallet/wristlet. While not an exhaustive list, many would agree that other items include the following:
- Credit cards and Debit Cards
- Paper Cash
In the Embrazio model we’ve pictured in this article, there are 6 sleeves for cards of any time and a long leather sleeve for paper folding money. For coins and other small items (think earrings, contact lens case, etc.), a large zippered sleeve runs the length and depth of the side opposite the phone sleeve. Finally, because the entire internal structure of the phone wallet can be secured by a zipper that runs around 3 sides, one can easily drop in a pen, lipstick, or set of keys inside the zippered wallet.
The Externals Are Important
One key element of the phone wristlet is, of course, how it looks when being carried or laid next to you on a bar or tabletop. Embrazio lets its premium textured leather carry the load in this dimension and it does so quite well. The phone wristlet is offered in a growing number of colors (currently there are 7 choices of color) ranging from basic black and brown through deep red and metallic gold.
The wallet/wristlet comes with a nearly 3-inch leather zipper pull that features detailed stitching for an extra design touch. The leather wristlet loop has similar stitching for style and quality and a metallic clip so the owner can carry it as a case or wristlet as they prefer.
Quality Seen and Unseen
Too often elements of quality, or the lack thereof, become visible only when a problem occurs. It is important to note, therefore, that the Embrazio Phone Wristlet is handmade with exceptional attention to detail.
Some of this attention to quality and detail are easily observed like the use of metal instead of nylon zippers. Other elements are less visible but equally as important like the thickness of thread and the density of stitches per inch that ensure all seams stay together and tight over years of usage. Together, the high quality materials and artisanal craftmanship make for a product that will just get better and more lovable with age and wear.
Scott Schaefer is co-founder of Embrazio, a leather accessories and jewelry manufacturer in Boulder, CO. Scott has been working in the leather industry for over 12 years with his wife and partner, Stephanie Boyles. Together, they have patented a curved leather belt design that eliminates “gapping” and pulling in the back of your belt.