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Unique wallets

From do-it-yourself duct tape wallets to the latest innovations in affordable uber-thin wallets from the trend-setting Big Skinny brand, wallets have come a long way from the bulky leather billfolds that grandpa carried in his back pocket to the corner market.

In fact, some of the latest wallets are physically nonexistent. For those who barter or buy with the digital currency called bitcoin, there's a digital wallet smart phone app for that. But most people still use traditional cash and credit cards, making a wallet as necessary today as it was hundreds of years ago.

While some wallets have become more lightweight and multi-functional than in past decades, others can be best described as downright funky.

Today you can find wallets shaped like taco shells and wallets made of recycled beer cans or car tires with intact tread. Retro wallets are shaped like old-fashioned cassette tapes or decorated with yesteryear's favorite comic book heroes and villains.

You can buy wallets festooned with animal artwork, 3-D flourishes or goofy sayings. Light-up wallets contain recessed LED features. You can buy wallets made of cork, carved wood or heavy-duty metal that looks like something you wouldn't want to drop on your foot.

Wallets are not immune from the DIY ranks of how-to guidebooks and YouTube instructional videos. It's easy to track down what looks like origami-inspired instructions online about how to make wallets from comic book pages or fabric scraps, although the finished results look a little flimsy for those who might prefer something a little sturdier for carrying real cash and can't-lose credit cards.

More practical are the wonderfully innovative wallets on today's market for consumers who find wallets with extra-wide nonslip pockets and durable, but lightweight construction a better buy than a wallet shaped like a slice of pepperoni pizza or one weighed down with chunky globs of glued-on 3-D bling.

Big Skinny uses nylon microfiber to create its world's skinniest wallets that are thin enough to allow customers to send tucked inside ordinary greeting cards as gifts. When compared to Big Skinny's unique wallets, old-fashioned billfolds look and feel like you're carrying a brick in your pocket or purse.

Since introducing water-resistant Big Skinny wallets to the world in 2005, this savvy U.S. wallet-tech company has expanded from bi-folds to tri-folds to smart phone-holding wallets in dozens of sizes.

Smarter wallets

As cell phones have evolved to larger smart phones, Big Skinny has introduced unisex wallets especially designed to hold someone's cash, credit cards, favorite photographs and the newest Galaxy or iPhone and its case in wallets using nylon microfiber or hybrid nylon/leather construction.

As consumers began carrying more credit cards, Big Skinny designed its inside pockets, with a rubberized lining to prevent cards and cash from falling out, to hold 20 or more plastic cards without adding bulk to the wallet's design. Travel wallets have become versatile enough to hold passports, airline and rail tickets, domestic cash, oversized foreign currency and oddly shaped foreign coins.

Big Skinny's leather metro bi-fold wallet is the exact size of a U.S. one-dollar bill. The Big Skinny mini stretch wallet was designed for men and women who don't like carrying any kind of wallet. This stretchy mini wallet literally wraps around an ID card, a couple of bills and one to 10 credit cards.

The company has even made key rings and money clips multifunctional. Clunky key rings are being replaced with zippered Big Skinny nylon microfiber or leather key cases with discreet pockets inside to hold cash and cards.

The company has also reinvented the motorcycle wallet with chain that has lately been embraced as a non-biker urban fashion statement. Big Skinny offers an uber-thin leather motorcycle wallet with a 20-inch chain and inside pockets that are roomy enough to hold cash, checkbooks, ID cards and up to 30 plastic cards. The rubberized coating inside the internal pockets means your cash and cards won't scatter if the wallet tumbles onto the roadside or onto an inner city dance floor.

Going green

Big Skinny is green, too. Using less material for production is the obvious way to create an environmentally progressive business, but Big Skinny has also adopted a unique carbon neutral approach to its website operation that employs an outside establishment to proactively monitor its use of energy.

As more men say no to fat, old-fashioned wallets, more women also are spurning heavy purses that dig into their shoulders. Big Skinny created its Cheshire Convertible bag that's a super-thin nylon microfiber clutch with a detachable strap that makes it the most lightweight shoulder bag on the market. Yet, there's still room for passports, cell phones, cosmetics, cash, cards and plenty of change. The top full zipper keeps everything secure.

The company created its metallic leather “taxicat” wallet for fashionable urban women who wanted a petite wallet thin enough and small enough to fit into the palm of a hand.

When it comes to men's wallets, unisex billfolds and women's purses, thin is in, and technology-smart companies with the knack for embracing function and fashion are offering innovative, lightweight materials in modern color palettes with more room for modern essentials.

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