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The Evolution of Wallets :A look at the trends in wallet fashion (velcro to the wallet chain to the bitcoin wallet)

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Pants pocket challenges

Unfortunately, their construction was still bulky, which was a look exacerbated by filling 20th century wallets with cash and plastic. This made them tend to look like bricks bulging from the back pockets of Mod jeans of the 1960s, drainpipe pants of the 1970s, thin-fitting acid-washed jeans popular in the 1980s, thin-fit jeans worn by heavy metal bands in the 1990s and the skinny jeans first made popular in the early years of our century the 21st.

Then came Big Skinny. The Massachusetts-born company was the brainchild of young, high-tech trained founders determined not to go through the future saddled with big, clunky wallets. They hit the research labs and spent more than two years inventing and then refining the hot new product of 2005: the Big Skinny wallet.

Created using ultra-thin nylon microfiber, these wallets are 10 times thinner than conventional wallets, but just as durable, and they’re outfitted with extra-wide inside pockets to hold more credit cards without adding bulk. The pockets are lined with a thin rubberized coating to prevent cards and currency from slipping out.

The innovative guys behind Big Skinny then introduced bi-fold, tri-fold and mini stretch versions thin enough to arrive inside greeting cards. They reinvented the travel wallet to be thinner and contain more inside pockets specially fitted for passports, airline tickets, train tickets and oversized foreign currency.

Reinventing the wallet

Big Skinny has since introduced cell phone and smart phone wallets that hold cash, credit cards, compact picture albums, ID cards and pockets big enough to hold today’s larger smart phones and their cases. They remade the motorcycle wallet, leaving the chain intact but refashioning the long wallet to be thinner.

Women’s wallets and purses came next. The Convertible Cheshire by Big Skinny is a super-slender handbag with detachable shoulder strap designed with enough room to carry cash, plastic, makeup, a cell phone, mini-camera and e-reader.

Big Skinny key cases and money clips have been remade to include internal pockets for folding money, keys and cards. Deciding not to abandon the classic look of leather entirely, the guys at Big Skinny went back to the research labs to invent a hybrid wallet with a leather exterior and interior constructed of Big Skinny’s signature sleek nylon microfiber.

Because only high-quality leather was flexible enough to cut thin enough for the Big Skinny guys, only top-grain leather is used on their hybrid wallets. The company’s Big Skinny leather metro bi-fold wallet with proprietary nylon microfiber interior is exactly the length of a one-dollar bill. When closed, it’s only 4 millimeters thick, which makes it just as easy to slide into a front pocket as it is to tuck into a back pocket.

Women around the country are buying up Big Skinny “taxicat” leather hybrid wallets with a compact, round shape, outside coin pocket and interior pockets designed to hold cash and up to 25 plastic cards. This tiny women’s wallet by Big Skinny is only 7 mm thin when closed.

Next up?

Other 21st-century wallet makers have introduced shoe wallets, wrist wallets, see-through Kevlar wallets and wallets made of cork, titanium, duct tape and even recycled ties. Today, physically nonexistent digital wallets are becoming the trend in electronic commerce transactions, with laptop, smart tablet and smart phone apps that allow you to make a purchase without having to show the vendor an actual credit or debit card.

NXT-ID has designed what it calls the next-generation smart wallet, which requires no smart phone to complete a transaction just your biometric stamp of approval. Following the introduction of the physically nonexistent online currency called bitcoin, a bitcoin wallet app was introduced for that, too.

But we don’t think actual wallets are ever going to go away. We will always enjoy the freedom to go anywhere, even to far corners of the planet without Wi-Fi hotspots, with a compact wallet containing our cash, ID cards, plastic and other essentials.

Wallet fads will continue to come and go, but when it comes to the next smart, stylish wallet with even more practical applications, we’re going to keep our eye on those future-forward innovators at Big Skinny.

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