The leather goods market is surging, and market analysts project that this will continue since more and more people associate personal leather accessories with luxury and affluence (Mordor Intelligence). I am less concerned with luxury than style and functionality, so I find leather products appealing because they strike the perfect balance between durability, craftsmanship, and aesthetic appeal.
If you are in the market for such products for yourself or a special man in your life, you’re in the right spot. After extensive research, I’ve compiled a list of five must-have personal leather accessories for men.
While there are innumerable leather products, in my judgment, there are five must-have personal leather accessories that most men would find both appealing and valuable:
- High-quality watch bands;
- Functional and minimalistic wallets;
- Passport holders;
- Durable belts; and
- An AirPod case.
Of course, you can find numerous options ranging from exclusive high-end products to much more affordable but equally stylish alternatives. I’ll identify what I take to be some of the best options in each category.
Ten years ago, a watch band would not have been a must-have accessory. Many men ditched their wristwatches once they became accustomed to always having a smartphone. But ever since the release of the Apple Watch, they have once again become popular. Although Apple and other brands offer a variety of bands to accompany their smartwatches, you can find a more comprehensive selection of options at various price points by exploring after-market retailers. This is particularly true if you are looking for a more rugged or vintage leather band.
Regarding high-end leather accessories, Hermès leather bands are unparalleled in quality and style. The premium calfskin bands are handcrafted using leather drawn only from the back skin of the calf. Of course, Hermès’ legendary craftsmanship and brand position result in an extraordinarily high price point. When purchased through the Apple store, their watch bands retail for between $339 and $849 (USD). Traditional quartz or mechanic watches purchased directly from Hermès cost more than $3000 and, in the case of the Slim d’Hermes Quantieme Perpetuel, as much as $39,450 (USD).
This is outside of my price range. Fortunately, many much more affordable watch bands are available, and I find some even more aesthetically appealing. If you like supporting small businesses and want a handcrafted item, Etsy creators offer numerous styles and options, ranging from slim classic and vintage-style bands to much more beefy cuff bands.
If your father and grandfather were anything like mine, they had thick, overstuffed trifold wallets. Nowadays, we prefer slimmer versions. Not only are minimalist wallets more stylish and better on our backs, but they can easily be stowed in a front pocket or inside a jacket, making it harder to fall victim to a pickpocket.
Arguably the most popular minimalist leather wallets are thin credit card holders, which can hold a small number of bills and often feature RFID blocking technology. Other options include bi-folds with a magnetic clasp or metal clip to secure bills.
As with watch bands, leather wallets are available at various price points. A Gucci Marmont leather bi-fold retails at $420 (USD), and a Hermès card holder comes in at $540 (USD).
A Stylish And Long-Lasting Carbon Fiber Wallet
While a wallet is an everyday necessity, a passport holder is a must-have personal accessory for men who are international travelers.
While all passport holders come with a sleeve or slot specifically designed to hold a passport, there are various options to choose from. I like the design of Buffalo Jackson’s passport wallet, and field notes cover since it features credit card pockets and holds a field journal. Of course, most men probably don’t need a notebook with them, so in that case, a more streamlined and sophisticated passport holder, such as those produced by Man Gun Bear, would be suitable. If you are looking for a more rugged option, consider the zipped bi-fold cover from MisterCrafter on Etsy.
The most apparent must-have personal leather accessory for a man is a belt. Men who otherwise do not have leather accessories find that a traditional leather belt better conveys their style and tastes than non-leather alternatives. Of course, leather belts vary in terms of quality. I have made the mistake of purchasing cheaper versions, which wear out or become deformed after a year or less of use.
As I was researching better alternatives, I was particularly struck by the Lifetime Leather Belt offered by the Duluth Trading Company. It comes in either black or brown Italian leather, has an aesthetically appealing brass buckle, and is 40% thicker than ordinary belts. At $69.95 (USD), it is more affordable than other high-quality options. After checking out the selection offered on Etsy and other sites, I couldn’t find a better alternative. This belt provides both the durability and traditional aesthetic I was looking for.
Once again, Hermès offers extraordinarily high-end options. However, I find that the aesthetic of many of their belts is a bit unusual, and I suspect that most men would prefer a more traditional style. Orvis offers a mid-range bridle-leather belt tanned by J&E Sedgwick & Co. and available in brown, black, or tan.
The final must-have personal leather accessory is one which I wasn’t expecting: AirPod cases. These weren’t on my radar until I started looking around, but once I came across them, I was struck by their novelty and the wide variety of styles. Owing to their size, they also tend to be quite affordable, making them a uniquely good gift option.
I am not a fan of “personalized” leather goods, which feature my initials or name, so many of the cases offered on Etsy were not of my liking. I did, however, like the variety of unique designs, especially those with a rugged and functional style, so I might go ahead and buy one, forgoing the personalization.
If you are looking for a leather-encased version of the classic AirPod case, Neiman Marcus offers options in both black and brown.
A Wallet That Holds Up To 12 Cards Without Stretching
Must-have leather accessories of the sort that I’ve surveyed—watch bands, wallets, passport holders, belts, and cases—are all very personal, reflecting a man’s identity and lifestyle. If you are in the market for a gift, be sure you understand the aesthetic preferences of the man you are shopping for.
Whether you are buying for yourself or someone else, I recommend identifying the highest quality product within your price range. While leather is generally quite durable, if possible, you want to avoid commodity leather, as Sam Huff explains in Esquire. Moreover, craftsmanship plays a critical role in determining the lifespan of a product. This is particularly true concerning belts and wallets, which are subjected to constant use. For this reason, I recommend giving preference to products that are handcrafted by established and renowned producers, rather than opting for the mass-produced accessories available in big box stores.