The Alto Wallet(s)
With a burning desire to ditch our bulky leather wallets, the OG wallet was a somewhat surprising discovery. We tried dozens of more complex prototypes, but noticed we kept evolving towards more efficiency, more simplicity. As we got rid of all the excess, what was left was the most pure solution to our problem.
If you have enough perseverance to find it, there is magic in simplicity. The way this wallet works and it's adaptability to any situation is the magic we found, and quickly fell in love with. This is the perfect wallet to carry as many or as few cards as you need, access any card with an effortless swipe movement, the band holds it all tight enough to never fall out (thanks also to the rubber grip it provides), but loose enough to make access a breeze.
After happily using the OG for quite some time we grew the desire to carry cash in particular... just a little more effectively. The OG worked, but it was designed first and foremost for ultra efficient credit/bank/ID card carrying. We did not want to stray too far from what made the OG a great design. Maintaining much of the form factor but adding a second band in the manner we did (though we tried many different ways), opened up new possibilities we couldn't have foreseen. The bands running parallel add extra grip if you're throwing it in a gym bag or want a little more piece of mind traveling around the world.
But, the main discovery occurred when we crossed the bands for the first time to make an "X". Wow, playing with this for a few minutes the wallet took on a new life of it's own, giving it a separate identity from the OG. Crossing the bands makes it easier to slide cards in and out (vs parallel), but more significantly, it adds an extra layer to store tricky items like cash and paper receipts.
A theme is beginning; after using the OG and the X for a few years now, we began to demand more from our wallet. The evolution continued as we felt greater desire to carry business cards crisply in addition to cash, credit cards and ID. The addition of the money clip did not come easily, but with it’s integration the wallet evolved into something completely new once again, something more functional and adaptable than we could have ever imagined when we first began making wallets.
Upon reflection, it's where we were trying to go the whole time though. As we introduced this new wallet into our daily lives, it quickly showed its power to change and elevate us. A wallet which adapted to every moment, a wallet that made us faster not slower.
Slides discreetly in a front or back pocket; artfully flush mounting a slim brushed steel money clip on one side (a time tested mechanism for cash) with a single strategically looped band on the other, the slimness + overwhelming adaptability of this wallet is almost beyond imagination, the feeling of achievement getting to this level on our design quest, having it all "come together"... made all the frustration getting "there"... totally worth it.
- 2.0 CARBON*
After the satisfaction of fully realizing our ambitions to create the ultimate minimal wallet, we noticed the opportunity to push the design even further still. Having used carbon fiber in the past with our longboards, we could sense its properties would be perfect for the 2.0 design we had just finalized. Plus, it just looks awesome, so we couldn't help ourselves.
*my quick definition off the top of my head:
A super performance material used in aerospace, F1 racing, and many other peak performance demanding activities.
Or the more thorough definition from Wikipedia:
Carbon Fiber (alternatively CF, graphite fiber or graphite fibre) are fibers about 5–10 micrometres in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. Carbon fibers have several advantages including high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion. These properties have made carbon fiber very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. However, they are relatively expensive when compared with similar fibers, such as glass fibers or plastic fibers.
- PakMan PRO
Taking another fresh look at what we were carrying most often, we decided to try and shave even more size to match more closely the dimensions for the plastic cards we carried. The result was combining new materials to address the same core components we solved with the 2.0. One side features a durable and stretchy lycra slot to slide cards into with an extra pouch designed into it for coins, receipts, locker key, etc. With a money clip on the other side offering the same versatility as the 2.0. The PakMan PRO holds everything you need at any given moment... in an even more compact design.
With a great deal of experience making phone cases (a product we started around the same time as our wallets) it was inevitable that we would combine both into one. The first experience after making it; I remember walking to my car thinking I had forgot my wallet, quickly realizing however, the significance and freedom an empty pocket just gave me, as well as the piece of mind knowing it's attached to my phone, and rarely will that device get too far out of arms reach.
Alto Wallet Timeline
- The super OG versus the OG
The differences are subtle, until you look a little closer.
The “super OG” features two external pieces of solid wood with a triaxial fiberglass core that's been resin bonded in a vacuum for 12 hours. This is effectively the same way we make our longboards, just on a miniature scale. They are incredibly strong and we can use any wood or wood combination we like without worrying about inconsistencies solid wood can have. With that much strength however, means our laser couldn't cut through it at the time of creation, so we cut and carved them like our longboards... by hand with a bandsaw, jigsaw, and other specialty sanding tools. With a desire to scale up without exponentially scaling our labour time, we needed to find a way to make this wallet with our laser. The solution came using a multi layer all wood core (which is incredibly strong but able to be cut with our laser) and switching from solid wood to the same thin veneer we use for phone cases. We piggybacked a lot of the phone case process and we were all of the sudden able to precisely cut hundreds of the exact shape we wanted... without blisters and hand cramps haha. Though despite leveraging technology they still require a great deal of hand craftsmanship. We have evolved this design construction method all the way to attaching it to the phone. It’s possible we revisit the original technique now that we can precisely cut them with our CNC router machine (a tool we didn’t have when we first started making wallets and longboards).
Now I’m getting inspired to give it a fresh shot, make something old, but totally new, overlaying everything we’ve learnt…