On the surface, this is an inside look at the design process involved in making the Ditto Slim Wallet. But much deeper than that, it’s an ode to the necessity of play and exploration in design. Some of the best designs come out of feeling free to fail, and not being afraid to make something that doesn’t work. This is a reminder to celebrate the 65 or so failures that came before the success of the final wallet design. In a way, we hesitate to even call them failures, because each one of the prototypes led us one step closer to the final solution.
We’ve been hankering to make a more minimalist wallet for a while now. The push for a pared down wallet came from a couple different directions. Philosophically speaking, we’re all looking to carry a little less in life—and we’re not just talking about tents, sleeping bags, and camping gear here. There’s more simplicity and elegance when you carry less, and it forces you to figure out what you really need to get around on a daily basis. On a practical level, our pants pockets don’t always fit our maxed out wallets. It’s a challenge to just carry our phones; having a fat wallet puts us over the edge. Thus began our design challenge to create a leaner, meaner wallet. Within the process, we asked ourselves whether a minimalist wallet should be made out of the least amount of fabric (not really), should minimize the action to get stuff out of it (maybe), or should minimize the bulk in your pocket (definitely).
We learned the following lessons from making AND using our prototypes:
- Some separation is good; having only one compartment means that you can’t find a specific credit card or train pass when you are in a hurry.
- Almost no one carries a lot of cash anymore, but sometimes it is nice to have a few bills around.
- You really CAN pare down your wallet to 3-4 important cards.
- A minimalist wallet should still keep your cards secure so they don’t fall out.
- Hard components in wallets don’t look good in your pocket. And we all want to look good.
- It’s nice to keep your wallet contents somewhat hidden.
- A smooth open/close action makes you feel good inside every time you use it.
We wanted to accomplish all this with just fabric—remember, no hard components. Oh, and one more thing: we wanted the wallet to reuse some of the byproducts of our manufacturing process, as all products in our Ditto line do. Dimension-Polyant, who supplies high tech materials for our tents and shelters, was a generous partner in this endeavor. They donated manufacturing seconds and discards for the final wallet production.
The final design of Ditto Slim Wallet is a two sided sleeve that keeps contents secure with a partial stretch cover.
The stretch cover opens up on one end by pulling the folded label end open to reveal the goods. Notice that the stitch pattern on the outside isn’t just for looks. Stitch lines tend to act like hinges in fabric. There is a stiffener sewn on the underside of the cover, so that the part you pull back stays structural, and the rest of the cover hinges back.
The compartment in the front is best for cards, train passes, or other often used items. We like to keep our cash in the back sleeve, since it is a little more low profile.
The back of the label also gives you a nice reminder when you take cash out.
Like all of our Ditto products, the wallets are made in limited quantities, because they reuse manufacturing scraps. Specific colors and fabric are used in small run batches, so if you’re interested in getting one, do it sooner rather than later.
It takes bravery to be willing to try something new, to be willing to fail. We’re proud of our design process and of every one of our 65 prototypes.