m^2 started with a challenge, to create the best no-compromise design on the market. Maximum capacity in minimum space. Easy access. Less volume. More comfort. Their patented “Slim Wallet-SW” design comes from an engineering approach under the idea of using the minimum possible constructive elements, hence the wallet is made of one single pattern folded several times. Mission accomplished!
I first heard about Minimum Squared, a small Spanish leather goods outfit, about two years ago when they sponsored a giveaway on this site. Since then, I’ve kept them in the back of my mind but was never able to try out one of their products. A few months ago, they reached out and sent me a Slim Wallet Elastic for testing and I’ve been carrying it every day since. Let’s see if this husband and wife duo can deliver.
Sanela and Adrian (a language instructor and engineer, respectively), started their Minimum Squared workshop after realizing they could apply their love for craft to solve a problem they were seeing with marketplace offerings – wallets are an everyday carry item but they were often too large and bulky. Their name reminds us of their focus (minimalism x minimalism) and the squared aspect reminds us of the engineering and math we practiced in school. The company is a melding of old-school craft and modern technology.
The Slim Wallet Elastic I was sent won a 2016 Red Dot Design Award which is no easy feat. It is made with vegetable-tanned goat leather and is CAD designed, precision laser cut, and sewn with a waxed linen thread from France that dates to 1847. They are experimenting with other types of leathers and I understand a version with Horween Chromexcel may be coming soon.
“The Slim Wallet Elastic I was sent won a 2016 Red Dot Design Award which is no easy feat.”
There is a 6mm elastic band that free-floats, passing through two slits in the leather. The band keeps everything intact. When you first receive the wallet, you’ll find four placards inside, one in each slot, instructing you of the recommended number of cards per slot. The Slim Wallet Elastic is designed to hold a total of ten cards with three on the right side (front and back) and two on the left (front and back).
Using the wallet is straightforward. Simply pull on the leather flap for easy opening. When you are done with your transaction, just close it up and wrap the loop around the whole thing.
“The Slim Wallet Elastic is designed to hold a total of ten cards with three on the right side (front and back) and two on the left (front and back).”
Who It Suits
As the name implies, this wallet is really geared towards someone who appreciates a mix of old-world craftsmanship and materials, and modern design and construction. Also, it would be for someone who does not need to carry more than ten cards with them; a minimalist person. It also would benefit an owner who wants some unique leather and band color combinations and does not necessarily want to stick to the traditional browns and blacks of most wallets.
“As the name implies, this wallet is really geared towards someone who appreciates a mix of old-world craftsmanship and materials, and modern design and construction.”
Who It Doesn’t
This wallet would not suit a buyer who needs to carry a lot of cards or enjoys bulky wallets. It also would not suit a blue collar worker, especially if the wallet might be exposed to tough (dirt, water, etc.) conditions on a daily basis. While there is no doubt the wallet could stand up to a lot of abuse, there is nothing rugged about the wallet. This is a gentleman’s/lady’s wallet, and not something you’d take into the field.
“While there is no doubt the wallet could stand up to a lot of abuse, there is nothing rugged about the wallet.”
It’s a difficult thing to describe, but what I really like most about the wallet is the presentation and craftsmanship. I think those concepts are easy to grasp, but there’s something special about how Sanela runs her company. There’s a special blend of small atelier but with the advantages of modern technology. For example, the packaging really impressed me but it’s admirable in the way you enjoy a gift from a crafty friend, and not in the industrial design way that for instance an Apple package is impressive. The wallet comes wrapped in tissue paper, inside a lightweight cardboard box with simple tabs to keep things enclosed. Inside the box is a printed letter to the new owner, explaining the materials and a brief note on how to use the wallet.
“It’s a difficult thing to describe, but what I really like most about the wallet is the presentation and craftsmanship.”
There are only three materials that make up the wallet, so each must be perfect. The vegetable-tanned goat leather is from the British firm Harmatan and Oakridge Leathers. I don’t have much experience with goat leather but I can tell you it’s very supple. The thread, Fil au Chinois Lin Câblé, is waxed linen and twisted to prevent fraying. The band is just a simple elastic affair.
The construction of the wallet is quite good. The leather is laser cut so everything lines up nicely. The sewing uniform and even, with no discernible fraying or loose ends. Lastly, I really like that bills (especially the US currency I use) fit without folding. Many minimalist wallets, especially from international companies, have issues fitting bills without some sort of alteration or slight folding. This makes them extremely frustrating to use.
“I really like that bills (especially the US currency I use) fit without folding.”
The Not So Good
I have a few very nitpicky quibbles about the wallet. The first is that having a wallet that relies on an elastic band for closure is a slight inconvenience. Take for example a trip to the market. I have my chipped card in the machine and am waiting to enter my pin and approve the purchase. This whole time, I am not sure what to do with my wallet. In 30-60 seconds, I have to put my card away, so I don’t want to wrap the band around the wallet and put it away in my back pocket. But if I don’t put it away, I have to stand there holding my wallet open. It sounds silly but having to wrap the band around the wallet each time you put it away is an extra step that a normal wallet does not require.
“I have a few very nitpicky quibbles about the wallet. The first is that having a wallet that relies on an elastic band for closure is a slight inconvenience.”
The next issue is where the band enters and leaves the wallet. There are simply two slits that are not reinforced. The band is free-floating and not sewn to the wallet, so this arguably adds less stress to the holes, but I am worried about this portion of the wallet being a weak point. I’ve brought this up with Sanela and she assures me that there are wallets in the wild that are four years old and they have not seen any failures.
The final small complaint is the leather itself. I am not sure if it’s the goat leather or the weight/gauge, but it’s very supple. This is both good and bad. Obviously, it’s very soft and nice to hold and put in your pocket. But the con is that with time, it feels kind of loose, sort of like a sweater that has stretched a bit. Arguably, this is the natural character of the wallet and I can get behind that thinking. However, sometimes I just feel like I wish things were a little stiffer or tighter.
“I am not sure if it’s the goat leather or the weight/gauge, but it’s very supple. This is both good and bad. Obviously, it’s very soft and nice to hold and put in your pocket. But the con is that with time, it feels kind of loose, sort of like a sweater that has stretched a bit.”
Minimum Squared have accomplished something really special here. They’ve taken the best ingredients, married them with modern design and construction and have come up with a wallet that does its job well, and nothing more. With a price tag of 150 Euros, I feel like this is a legacy wallet, something that you can invest in but will use as your sole for decades. I think the Slim Wallet Elastic is up for the challenge and deserving of both the Red Dot Award and a place in your pocket.