If you use a wallet, there's no point to carrying around a dozen cards, ancient receipts and a giant wad of cash. Bellroy is a company fanatical about slimming your wallet, and the Slim Sleeve, to that end, takes some interesting routes to achieve that goal -- but the end result is a wallet that looks great and works effectively.
What Is It?
The Slim Sleeve Wallet is $79.95, available from Bellroy's online store or a range of Australian retailers including The Iconic and Rushfaster. Bellroy sent me two different variants of the wallet for review -- one in orange-tan Tamarillo and one in the darker, more natural brown Java. The Bellroy Slim Sleeve Wallet arrived in a simple cardboard sleeve, with sewed edges and a simple sliding tab customised to that wallet's colour.
Open up the sleeve and you'll find the Slim Sleeve inside carefully wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper to protect it during posting; discard that and you're presented with the wallet alone -- no superfluous or unnecessary accessories, although it would have been nice to have a little leather stamp or stickers or some other goodies included. (To be fair, with the Bellroy Travel Wallet and Passport Sleeve, which have an included pen, you do get an extra refill in the package.)
The Slim Sleeve wallet itself is simple -- there's no coin pocket, no removable leather folds, and no transparent window for a driver's licence. That's perfectly in keeping with Bellroy's 'carry less' ethos -- the company's mindset is that if you don't have the option, you're not able to carry superfluous cards or receipts or too much cash. They're also the guys who bankroll Carryology, a blog dedicated to excellent bags and luggage and everyday carry gear, with an emphasis on picking the right container for the right task.
What Is It Good At?
The Slim Sleeve measures 95mm long and 80mm wide -- it's definitely on the smaller size for a men's wallet, being barely larger than the surface area of a standard credit card. Each wallet is stitched with a thick contrasting thread, with no fancy frills or tailoring on either the outside or inside of the smooth leather.
Open the Slim Sleeve and you'll find two nearly identical pockets on the inside of the single fold. Facing towards you, the left pocket has a front sleeve that can hold a couple of cards, and an inner compartment that can expand to fit several more. The right side is similar, but the inner space has an included pull tab that can be tugged to expose the cards hidden within; this tab makes the right side more suited to cards alone where the left can be used with cash as well.
Despite being genuinely slim -- barely thicker than 10mm when closed and empty of cards -- the Slim Sleeve can carry quite a few cards and cash simultaneously. I loaded the Slim Sleeve Wallet up with 12 cards and 8 folded bills and it still closed comfortably, although for day-to-day use it's more comfortable with 4-6 cards and a maximum of 4 bills.
Being made from nice, high quality vegetable tanned leather, Bellroy's wallets are pretty hardy and resistant to scratching, but it is possible. In the fortnight that I used the Slim Sleeve in Tamarillo, it picked up a few small scratches and spots -- this isn't a piece of leatherwork that will stay in perfect condition for years, but on initial impressions it's looking like the wallet will pick up a nice patina over time without falling to pieces.
What Is It Not Good At?
You do have to make a choice about what cards you're going to carry with the Bellroy Slim Sleeve Wallet. This wallet's natural competitor is the Minimalist from the guys at Capsule, which has a similar maximum card capacity; Bellroy says the Slim Sleeve will accomodate "4-15+" cards but I'd suggest you restrict yourself to no more than 8 -- four on either side, with two in the front sleeve and two in the rear insert on each fold. Any more and you'll start to stretch the leather (I found that out the hard way on my Capsule Minimalist, which has taken a back seat to the Bellroy for carrying my less-used credit and car-sharing RFID cards.)
Build quality is generally good on Bellroy's wallets, with solid stitches that don't look likely to come apart with extended or heavy use. There were a few loose threads at the ends of stiches on both the wallets delivered to me, but they were a result of the wallet's creators being a little generous with the thread -- a few seconds with a pair of scissors and you'll have a clean result.
I'll be honest -- the biggest pain about the Bellroy Slim Sleeve is folding and unfolding bills whenever you're paying for something. You can keep bills in any of the sleeves inside the wallet -- Bellroy recommends you use one of the inner compartments, although I found the outer slot more convenient -- but whenever you get a bill back from a shopkeeper, you'll have to take out your existing bills and fold the old one in. Keeping individual bills folded bulks the Slim Sleeve out too much to be practical.
Should You Buy It?
If you're looking for a new wallet, and if you don't mind subscribing to Bellroy's 'slim your wallet' mentality, the Slim Sleeve is well constructed from high quality materials, and should stand the test of time. It's not cheap at $79.95, but it should make for a good long-term investment.
However, this is not a wallet that is forgiving of excess. There's no coin storage, no place to stick your leftover receipts, and nowhere to keep the gym and library membership cards you haven't used in six months. If you don't want to cut down on your cards -- and you should, because it's a liberating process -- then look elsewhere. For the more open-minded man, Bellroy's Slim Sleeve Wallet is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.