When I first started looking into quality and handcrafted leather goods, I was astonished by how much products cost compared to what I usually found at Target and Kohls. However, what I was getting from those stores were usually poorly made and wouldn't last me that long before falling apart. Let's do a comparison using wallets...
Take for instance this wallet from Kohls, that is retailed at $40.00. Made of genuine leather, it is designed to look good initially and that "genuine" label makes it sound like it is well made. Not so fast. Genuine leather, as it turns out, is one of the lowest grades of leather and products made out with it tend not to last long.
My $40 genuine leather wallet started falling apart after a few months and needed to replaced within a year. Which means I would spend another $40, and be doing so every year.
Now, let's look at a full-grain, handmade wallet from a leathercrafter. Not only is the leather far superior, it is also more likely to be vegetable tanned. Vegetable tanned leather is much more environmentally friendly than the much more popular technique of chrome tanning. It is also considered to be more durable as well.
Regardless of the quality of leather, the wallet being made would be useless if it wasn't put together well. Another benefit to a wallet being crafted a skilled artisan is that it will most likely be hand stitched over machine stitched. While there are many pros to machine stitching, hand stitched leather is considered much more durable and resilient.
For most, the unique qualities of a handmade wallet are not important. We live in a fast-paced, instant gratification society and waiting patiently for a handcrafted wallet just isn't worth it. That is unfortunate because skilled trades such as leathercrafting, woodworking, and shoe making are being replaced by soulless, factory made, big box store items.
When you first hold a wallet specifically made for you, it is yours. There is no other wallet like it. While there are similar ones, the wallet in your hands has the natural scars and marking from the leather hide used. It will also develop character and patina to your lifestyle. The most important part? The wallet will most likely last you the rest of your life and will tell its own story.
However, it all comes down to the cost. An upfront payment of $40 for a wallet is much easier to stomach that $85-$150. But remember that the cheaper wallet won't last and you will be spending another $40 in a short period of time. So in five years, you might spend $200 on five cheaply made wallets