Arc’teryx Veilance – Wallet Review

Working a lot of retail over the past couple years has taught me two very important things (thankfully it taught me something to make up for making barely above minimum wage without a fleeting prayer of commission).

The first of these is where the concept of margin comes from; the space between the cost of production and the sticker on the product itself. This magical space is a place of Peter Pan-esque show and sparkle. It is important for anyone to know how much of the retail price they are paying is made up of storytelling, sensory appeal and psychological trickery. I don’t mean to antagonize the seller by saying this though, because the feeling captured by owning a truly well-designed and fulfilling product is tangible too-and hopefully tangible enough to cover that gap. 

The point is that it is important for the buyer to be aware of this, especially when purchasing anything related to fashion, where designers and streetwear brands convince the masses that it is reasonable to pay $700 for an embroidered t-shirt. The gap between cost and price will always exist, but hopefully you can decide to invest in a compelling reason to explain it.

The second thing that I learned is that if you get in with the right brands, you can get hooked the fuck up. This ties into my first point because it was only after acquiring a large number of items advertised at a high price for almost nothing, that I realize I felt mostly the same as a person, but had a new appreciation for good design, functionality, and choosing products that truly fit your personality. All the deeply discounted or free product in the world didn’t mean much if I didn’t feel strongly for what I had acquired.

During a Christmas season several years ago, I served a short stint at Arc’teryx, Vancouver’s king of everything outdoors. I came to appreciate their sleek and well designed technical wear, and had the opportunity (I would never have otherwise) to try their technical menswear Veilance line.

Part of this included purchasing the newly released Casing Billfold 78mm wallet, admittedly because I lost my other wallet -purchased at the famed leather market in Florence- in a folding lawn-chair. I later found it but elected to stay with the Veilance piece. Here’s why:

The main difference with the Casing billfold is its construction. Relying on laminated fine grain, water-resistant Horween leather, the lack of stitching provides the minimalistic look typical of the Veilance line. The silhouette is clean and sparse in detail, most pieces by Veilance are hard to pick out from a crowd, but at the same time they are difficult to truly replicate.

From a functional standpoint, this wallet is for the truly minimalist. Eight cards pushes this wallet to the absolute limit, and it isn’t for anyone who likes to carry more than six to eight bills in cash. Thankfully, this isn’t a huge problem for me (I’d rather further drive myself into dangerous levels of credit card debt, thank you very much).

Although the price of $325 CAD may be hard to swallow, I am beginning to see where its value come from after almost a full year of use. Daily use has left almost no impression on its beautifully constructed exterior. The wallet glides into my pocket, and I can hardly feel it when it’s there. Aesthetically, it feels sleek as hell when I place it down on the bar before paying for whatever the daily special is with a minimal tip. I often find myself lusting after the companion Casing Card and Casing Passport editions, although I would need to be flying many more planes to justify the latter.

The bottom line

I truly believe that this is an example of good old-fashioned, unadulterated value provided by Veilance, even at a high price point. Comparable luxury wallets can run in the range of $500 for tackily branded, “Italian leather” offering from Louis Vuitton. For the functionality and exceptional eye for design, I feel that the Casing Billfold is worth the investment. I hope that it is successful enough to provoke Veilance to keep experimenting with accessories and god knows what else.

Coming soon: reviews of Veilance Frame LS and Actuator Hoody.

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