History of Wallet: from Tool to Ultimate Fashion Accessory

History of Wallet: from Tool to Ultimate Fashion Accessory
November 7, 2017 Sarah Brown
In Inspiration
leather wallet

When you think about it, lots of items that we take for granted and carry or wear on a day to day basis have a rich and long history of usage. You may call a shoe or a wallet from the seventies vintage, but these objects go way back in time and have developed in parallel with the human civilization as well. Back in the day, because of the use of exclusively natural materials, everyone rocked a genuine leather wallet. In recent history, new materials and designs were introduced so let`s briefly look through the history of the wallet.

You know the expression that the history repeats itself? Well, it is true in most cases and more often than not it is applicable for fashion. Currently, across the board, the go-to style is minimalism and that is applicable for design, art and of course fashion. Well in ancient times things were pretty minimal as well, no high fashion designers back then and all toga`s and other items of clothing had no pockets whatsoever. So, the first “wallets” were actually kind of pouches that you could attach to your belt (also how the fanny pack was originally born, just kidding, it`s not, it was specifically made to help girls choose who NOT to date).

These “wallets” were not designed specifically to carry currency. Yes, money in coin form was carried in them but alongside there was some food and rations. Basically, the original wallets would today be considered more as a survival pack than an actual wallet.

This form of the wallet had stuck around for centuries. It had evolved a bit since its earliest days but just slightly. Pockets with specific purposes were added for things that were needed at a moment`s notice and that could not withstand tumbling around with other more resilient items. Mainly, here, we think about early business cards and means of identification.

black leather wallet

We see that a wallet is a very adaptable piece of accessory. So, it is only logical that its form would change once again with the change of money or, more precisely, with the introduction of paper currency. Money as a paper currency was first introduced in Massachusetts in 1690. So, with this change in technology, we saw a change in the wallet. Fun fact, even though pockets were introduced by this point and wallets were starting to have the shape we are familiar today it was still bad taste at the time to carry around a wallet in your pocket. It was still being attached to the belt. It did get to be a bit of a status symbol at this point since people believed that the size of your wallet was directly connected to the amount of money you have. Bigger the wallet equaled more money. Or at least people who bought big wallets wanted to make others believe.

Moving on all the way until the early twentieth century. As with most products the industrial revolution brought the wallet into mass production. In the age of economic prosperity prior to the great depression, a good quality leather wallet was a must have and a genuine fashion accessory. This is the period where wallets get the form and shape we still use heavily today. This is also the period when it became what it is today: an everyday accessory that nearly everyone in the world carries.

Since then and onwards wallets had a similar shape we know and love and that survives to this day. Being a shapeshifter that it is, the wallet started to adapt not in function, but in the design. New colors and new fabrics were introduced in order to follow the fashion and cultural trends. During the sixties and seventies as you can imagine they were made in all variety of colors and materials. It is good to note that like some pieces of fashion, for example, are timeless (a suit for formal occasions) a good black leather wallet or a brown leather wallet survived all transformations and cultural changes. The eighties and nineties brought, even more, materials into play like the Velcro but, let`s be honest, we are all glad that is over!

leather wallet

This brings us up to today. Wallets are made in endless design patterns, color schemes and all sorts of materials. You can now choose one that is not only practical but also perfectly expresses who you are and your personal sense of fashion and style.

New technologies bring even more changes and progress so we now even have wallets in the form of apps for our smartphones that allow us to carry less physical cash and cards.

There you have it, the wallet has been around in one form or another as long as there is civilization and it will always be an accessory for our everyday lives we just have to wait and see in which shape and form!

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