Daniel Luczak has made a name for himself in the last couples of years as the brains and the talent behind DaLuca Straps, a one-man operation known for producing handmade NATO straps using the finest American Horween shell and Chromexcel leathers (read our review here.) DaLuca Straps has since expanded beyond selling just NATOs, and currently offers a line of leather and rubber two-piece straps, as well as a variety of men’s accessories that include wallets, cardholders, and key chains.
Seeing as how every man should own a decent wallet, we were able to get our hands on the leather zip wallet in brown Chromexcel for review, as well as this handy key chain in natural Chromexcel. At $95 and $35, respectively, the goods aren’t exactly cheap, and the competition is stiff. So, are they worth your hard earned money?
Leather Zip Wallet
Over the last five years I’ve tried every single style of wallet out there, from an overstuffed billfold that would make George Costanza proud to a slimmed-down card case perfect for any member of the suit-and-briefcase crowd. My favorite, however, was a black Comme Des Garçons half-zip wallet that was part of my everyday carry for two years. The deceptively simple design was the perfect blend of form and function; small enough to fit comfortably in my back pocket yet spacious enough to carry bills and cards, with an internal pouch perfect for keeping coins or keys. Had it not fallen apart, I’d be using it today.
Since then, I’ve been looking for something similar to replace that wallet. Taking to heart the idiom, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” a number of brands sell wallets with nearly identical designs, but their wares often come up short in the leather department. DaLuca’s line of zip wallets stand out in that sea of flatterers, boasting a layout that harkens back to that beloved design while utilizing hardwearing leathers and high quality YKK zippers. They’re offered in several color options (brown, black, and natural) and leather types (Chromexcel and Essex, the latter of which goes through a tannage similar to that of shell). The YKK zippers, known for their quality, come in navy, black, and khaki, and are an interesting complement to the leather choices. For my money, I’d go with either the black-on-black or the brown Chromexcel with khaki hardware.
Coming in at 4 1/2″ wide, 3 1/2″ tall, and 3/4″ deep, the DaLuca wallet is the perfect size to be worn in your back pocket. Though the leather is thicker than what you would normally find on wallets, the design lends itself to a slimmer profile that makes it extremely comfortable when worn. Standing or sitting, you’re unlikely to feel any discomfort with this wallet in your back pocket. The design also strives for simplicity, so you won’t find any embellishment on the leather except for the beautifully designed and stamped logo. Likewise, the utility of the divider makes organizing simple without the need for cumbersome compartments and slips.
I also appreciate the inclusion of a leather pull-tab, a small detail that adds to the rugged nature of the design. If I could change something about the design, however, I would stitch the sides of the dividers together to create a pouch secured on three sides. As is, the divider is not particularly useful for storing coins, especially because the interior of the divider utilizes the smoother part of the leather (unlike the interior of the wallet proper, which is slightly coarse and offers more traction for securing your cash and credit cards).
Having used this wallet for over a month, I can also attest to its durability. The leather has patinated beautifully in that time, and the thickness of the hide ensures that this piece will last for years to come. The khaki-colored zipper fabric has absorbed some of the indigo dye from my jeans, and it looks great against the rich brown of the Chromexcel leather. If you like the look of rugged leather goods, then the aesthetics of this wallet should be right up your alley, combining a rustic feel with an attractive design to create a product that will certainly look better as the years pass.
Having said that, the wallet is not without its faults, the largest of which have to do with its construction. The interior divider is not perfectly fitted to the dimensions of the wallet, which causes the divider to press against the zipper. This at times makes it difficult to unzip the wallet because the zipper-pull rubs up against and gets caught on the divider, though this has diminished over time.
Leather Key Chain
As a way to satisfy my slightly-OCD mind, I prefer to have my keys on me at all times. The option of having them tethered to me is even better (my keys fell out of my back pocket in a cab once, and it’s an experience I hope to never repeat again.) I’ve used a carabiner in the past, but I didn’t enjoy the sound of my keys clanking whenever I took a step. Neither did my coworkers.
The DaLuca leather key chain offers a solution. At 4.75″ long, the DaLuca key chain is long enough where you can attach one end to a belt loop and slip the other end into a pocket. The polished metal fastener is a bit stiff, ensuring that your keys won’t be coming off unless you want or need them off. The design is a bit rugged, which is the look DaLuca strives for, so you won’t find much adornment here. What you get is a simple piece of high quality leather stitched to a fastener on one end and a key ring on the other. It comes in Chromexcel (brown and natural), Essex (natural), and Shell (black) for a slight surcharge, and the hardware can be had in either polished metal or PVD. Though I prefer rivets to stitching, the construction looks secure enough that I shouldn’t have to worry about tears.
Written and photographed by Ilya Ryvin