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Ekster® Journal | What is real leather craftsmanship?
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Posted by Richard Bertin on

It all begins with a train ride through the countryside giving way to the rolling hills of Germany, each spotted picturesquely with cows, reminding one of lederhosen and cuckoo clocks. The idyllic scenery is well known to any previous Euro-tripper, but a post-grad adventure isn’t the motivation for being here. The purpose of this journey? Finding the right leather to make the best luxury men’s wallet.

The beauty and allure of leather is not something new. It was revered by Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, and has been ubiquitously used over time as a versatile material as well as an undying sign of status and class. Its protective ability made it popular amongst foot soldiers of Ancient Greece and Rome; in medieval ages, it was used for its water resistance and ability to store perishables, but what about today? In an age of plastic and metal, why do we continue to use leather? Perhaps it is the quality of craftsmanship, of uniqueness – there is something beautiful in a handcrafted leather wallet, something inimitable and special.

A man's hands use a tool to cut leather in order to make a luxury handmade leather wallet.

Like a fine wine, leather only gets better with age. The genuine quality of top-grain leather ensures that each handmade wallet is unique, gaining distinctive marks as the leather ages, meaning premium leather wallets form perfectly to the shape of whatever pocket they are put in over time. Our Parliament wallet for example, is designed to mould perfectly to the pocket of the user within 2 weeks, preventing the flap from opening up and slimming down the overall profile with time. Working with the leather used in handmade luxury wallets, however, isn’t always the easiest. It requires strength and precision to transform a hide into top-grain leather, and immense craftsmanship and skill to take that leather and build a luxury men’s leather wallet. It also demands dedication to sustainable practices that ensure the betterment of all those involved in the production. While many assume that leather making is harmful to the animal kingdom, but this is not necessarily true! All the bulls that provide our leather spend their lives disease-free and well fed in the beautiful hills of Germany.

We prefer to use bulls instead of cows, since if cows become pregnant during the course of their life, stretch marks can appear on the skin, leaving imperfections on the leather. In the case of our production happy leather really is better leather, since the quality of a cow's life directly impacts the value, smoothness and lack of marks that appear on the finished leather product. Furthermore, all of our leather is a waste product of the Dutch meat industry, to not only ensure that our leather is of the finest quality, but also that we are doing our part to reduce waste and have the smallest possible impact on the environment.

The most important part of producing luxury leather wallets happens during the tanning process, a method that can be traced back 3000 years ago to the ancient Greeks.
For this part, our journey returns to the Netherlands, where the unfinished bull hides find their way to our top-notch Dutch tanneries. During this stage the leather is dried and treated, permanently changing the structure of the proteins that make up the hide using tannins (hence the name tanning!). In the past, wholly organic methods of tanning were improvised using whatever natural materials could be found on hand, some of which might shock us today. In the dark days of the medieval ages, people would use bodily excrement such as feces and urine to tan their leathers!
Image of a man holding a leather hide, soon to be made into a handcrafted wallet.

Fortunately, leather producers today aren’t subject to such desperate conditions and are able to enjoy modern leather production that is safer for those who produce it as well as those who purchase it. The leather produced in our top quality factories embodies the height of modern engineering and design, where Dutch craftsmen work meticulously to create genuine top-grain leather in a variety of colors and textures. Our leather wallets and other products are marked by softness and suppleness that only highly trained leather workers can achieve with a precise tanning method. The Netherlands is known both for its traditions and innovations, the evidence of which can be seen in our factories where we combine a culture and passion for leather with modern techniques that allow us to produce luxury leather wallets that are more stain and water resistant, have a higher degree of thermal resistance and maintain their colors longer.

One of the specific techniques used for creating our luminous blue-dyed leather is to avoid waxing it with unneeded products and instead letting it dry and age naturally. This allows it to avoid gaining scratch marks easily and gives the color a deep, glistening appearance. We also employ a two-toned finish to our brown and blue leathers that give them a distinctive look and color which will endure as the shape of the wallet softens, bends and forms to the way it is used, whether in pocket, purse or hand. 

An image of rows of treated leather ready to become Ekster premium leather wallets.

But leather is only part of the story. How do you make the best handmade luxury men’s wallet? Modern craftsmanship to us means a nuanced mixing of old and new, bringing tradition and innovation together using everything available. While one appreciates the stylish design and smooth texture of the handcrafted wallets, it is the advanced technology packed inside that takes a premium men’s wallet from being a useful fashion accessory to a personalized high-tech juggernaut of comfort and security.

All our luxury men’s leather wallets and other leather products are available to be outfitted with a solar charged GPS tracking card and RFID scanning protection, making its high-tech capabilities unapparent until needed.

An appreciation for traditional methods, a commitment to sustainable practices, and an eye on the future of security and finance: now that’s craftsmanship.

How is our leather transformed into a beautiful men’s wallet? To get a better idea of what sort of thinking goes into our luxury leather wallets, check out this interview with our in-house design team. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with our next blog post which will dive deeper into our design process.


Richard Bertin


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