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A Brief History of Wallets and The People Who Own Them

A Brief History of Wallets and The People Who Own Them

My grandfather carried pictures of his grandchildren in his wallet.

It was a black bi-fold leather “billfold”, as he called it, with an insert for pictures. It held tokens and treasures that were special to him and, if I was lucky, he would show me the pictures.

More than 20 years later, I can still picture it in his hands.

Wallets are one of our most used possessions. They follow us throughout our lives and they become a part of our life history.

They also have an interesting history of their own.

Even Otzi, also called the Iceman, a well-preserved natural mummy who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE, was discovered with a small purse attached to his hip. The purse carried knives, food, and other items that were necessary and important to him.

And let's not forget the Ancient Greeks. They tied wallets around their neck or waist. Made from lambskin or other fabrics, these pouches stored tokens, food, and knives. Much like Otzi’s purse, they functioned more as survival packs.

Hermes, the god of wealth and travel (not to mention the messenger of the gods), carried a satchel strapped to his side used to store messages and coins.

This satchel was called a Kibisis which has been translated as wallet.

The precursor to our modern day wallet came about in the 1300s, described as a bag to carry valuables. By the Renaissance, wallets could be simple or very ornate with crests and stitching. The Elizabethan merchant, John Frampton, was described by historian Lawrence C. Wroth as,

"A young English-man of twenty-five years, decently dressed ... wearing a sword, and carrying fixed to his belt something he called a 'bowgett' (or budget), that is, a leathern pouch or wallet in which he carried his cash, his book of accounts, and small articles of daily necessity".

With the introduction of paper money, modern bi-fold wallets came into being around 1690. Much like their ancient ancestors, men used wallets to hold more than just money. They carried dried meat or other victuals, sentimental tokens, and more.

Carrying smoking paraphernalia in one’s wallet was common, especially in Spain. However, it was deemed uncivilized to carry a wallet in one’s pocket. Instead, wallets were attached to the belt, all the better to show it off.

(Did someone say, “fanny pack”?)

Not surprisingly, it was the company named Hermes that started to make the first modern-styled wallets, in the early 1900s.

Wallets became a must-have accessory for men by the 1920s. Fashion may have slowed during World War II but soldiers still carried wallets with them. Wartime wallets carried pictures of loved-ones, dog tags, and other small items like matches.

Perhaps the wallets holding these small treasures became even more important to their owners.

Wallet design and style continued to evolve after the war.  Bi-fold wallets with card slots became standardized in the 1950s when credit cards were first introduced. Clutch wallets also became popular during this time. Seen as a high-quality item that could be used for many years, they were often given as gifts to men.

By the 60s and 70s wallets were simpler. They were made out of everything from traditional leather, to nylon, or chains. The velcro wallet became popular in the 1990’s (let's let it stay there!). Brightly colored and more casual than leather wallets, some even featured super heroes or other popular characters.  

We no longer carry food stuff or smoking paraphernalia in our wallets - at least most of us.  Styles may have become more miniliamistic, but no less fashion forward. They have changed with our needs, but wallets still make great high quality, long lasting gifts for men.

Over time, stylish wallets made from ethically sourced leather may develop endearing signs of wear. Signs that the item has been used and loved.

They are conscious fashion accessories that hold sentimental meaning for their owners.

And this is why wallets are an important part of our accessory collections at Brave Soles.

Like our grandfathers’ wallets, they can hold more than just money or credit cards.

In fact, they can carry precious memories both inside and out. 

We are proud to introduce the newest member of our accessories collection: The Michel Bifold Wallet.

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Stories That Inspire our Accessories

Stories That Inspire our Accessories

We love inspiration. The people and faces behind the items we create and release are always rooted in two things: functional beauty and the authentic story that we can share behind why we created it.

That's why we love it when people ask us how we ended up creating some of our items. 

So, let's satisfy some of your curiosity with some of our recent items...

 

The Paola Clutch was inspired by Paola Barret.

Paola is the creator and goldsmith of Sunpetals Jewellery. Paola is focused on upcycling silverware and broken jewellery in precious metals to transform them into new, modern, and minimal jewellery with the dream of using reclaimed precious metals from circuit boards and X-rays.

Based in Ottawa, Paola loves gallery hopping, the zero-waste movement, supporting vintage and ethical businesses and day-dreaming of moving to the Dominican Republic. When she gets there, she plans on being surrounded by flowers in her studio with her mini cows Dolly and Daisy ( if you’ve never heard of mini-cows we suggest to do a quick google search to fall in love instantly).

The Kristina Clutch is named after Kristina Paider, the very first person to know and believe in Brave Soles.

Kristina is a screenwriter, a powerhouse communication coach and the founder of both the Hollywood Approach and the Writer’s Green Room.

Kristina is based between Cabarete and the rest of the world. She came to us with her design idea because she wanted to give a gift to a friend who had helped her with a very specialized project.

We admire Kristina for many things and we agree with her that, “Saying yes to yourself inspires magic all around you.”

The Widlena backpack was named after Miss Widlene Earle. She is Christal’s sun and stars.

Widlene is a fantastic 13 year old who enjoys horseback riding, photography and chilling with her friends. She is full of kindness, empathy and possesses a quick sense of humour that keeps her Mom on her toes.

Widlene told her mom that she wanted a special backpack that was her own design. She began to draw pictures and gather ideas and before long, the Widlena was born. It proudly goes with her to school, the beach and on many Instagram photo shoots with friends. 

The Sandra is named after our favourite breakfast restauranteur, Sandra Weber.

As the owner of Claro Cafe in Cabarete, Sandra was also the very first vendor to welcome Brave Soles when we first launched. Sandy is famous for her incredible ability to make anyone feel welcome in her world, while all the while making sure they have a great glass of wine in their hand at the same time. She is a mom, a wife and a true friend to many.

We designed the Sandra wallet after she came to us with the idea of something that was without hardware and yet secure and sleek looking. She was the first one to own the Sandra and we are grateful for her inspiration.

Since our beginnings, we have discovered that the best way for us to continue to be inspired is to pay attention to the stories around us, waiting to be told. Thanks for being part of that inspiration. 

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When is a Shoe Bag More Than Just a Bag?

When is a Shoe Bag More Than Just a Bag?

When we first began to dream about creating something with a bigger mission behind it, I was only thinking about one way to accomplish our mission. I thought it would only be done through the product we were creating.

We carefully planned out our styles, our processes and even our logistics.


However, there was one thing we didn’t think about: the possible potential for the packaging of our products. When we began to think about what we could do, we got excited about what it could provide for our mission as a company. 


Each Brave Soles item that leaves us and goes out into the world arrives at its destination wrapped in its own unique bag.


Granted, there’s nothing that special about a simple bag.


Except when you consider that you and I are not separate from the items we fill our world with.


We are connected to it all through the stories that are interwoven in our lives.


A simple shoe bag from Brave Soles can tell a great story:

  • It could have been the robe in a Christmas pageant worn by a “wise man”
  • It might have even been a maxi dress that had a lot of great cocktail parties before it went off rotation
  • Perhaps it was destined for the landfill as a roll-end and one of our team members dug it out of a back storage room in our continual quest to upcycle materials.

In our journey to grow and learn how to continue to bring our love of fashion, people and planet together, our little shoe bags have come to represent something to us that is personal, unique and inspiring.


Those little shoe bags represent the beginning of a new life for everything that’s connected to them. They keep the fabric out of landfills and they give your items a longer life by protecting them, However, perhaps the most exciting for us is that they help to provide tangible income for ladies in the communities we work in.


One of the those women is Carmen.


Carmen is a jewelry artisan and seamstress. She has come a long way in her journey from being vulnerable as a young single mother to being a homeowner. Much of that is due to the kindness of Canadian volunteers who helped her build her own home.


But that was just the beginning.


Along the way, Carmen also realized that she had some great skills and ideas. Most of all, she has shown herself and the world that she has the drive and integrity to make her ideas happen.


Carmen is one of our suppliers in our ever-growing supply chain for Brave Soles. We helped her buy her first sewing machine and she has helped us solve a problem for our packaging.


We all share part of the story of beauty in the world. Thanks for joining ours.

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Brave Soles are Officially Part of the Agents of Change: Climate Solutions

Brave Soles are Officially Part of the Agents of Change: Climate Solutions

We are so excited to finally be able to announce that Brave Soles is part of the 2018 cohort for the Agents of Change program at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) in Toronto.

Here's what this means in plain English...

The  Agents of Change: Climate Solutions is a joint effort between the Government of Ontario and the Centre for Social Innovation. It's designed to help startups from a variety of backgrounds with one common goal: to build businesses that are going to help in the fight against climate change. 

Some of us are fashion businesses, some of us are agriculture initiatives and one of us is even figuring out how to make massive amounts of bread from beer :)

All of us are excited to have the opportunity to join forces and collectively work together for a better future we can all share in. 

Over the next year, we will be working closely to learn how to drastically cut down our greenhouse gas emissions, how to improve our supply chain management and how to build a sustainable business that can flourish because we are putting people, planet, and prosperity on a level playing field. 

We don't just want to say we believe in building a sustainable fashion industry - we want to prove to ourselves and our world that it is possible.

We are honored to be part of this new adventure, and you are part of that story. 

We will keep you updated as we learn and grow through this process and continue to create change through beauty and courage. 

Thanks for believing in us and thanks for having such great taste in shoes!

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A Quarter Turn in Your Thinking Can Make a Huge Difference

A Quarter Turn in Your Thinking Can Make a Huge Difference

When I think about how I want to move forward and how we can help people do the same, I think about the quarter turn of a champagne bottle.

There is no judgement on the sediment that collects in the bottle. It just is.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Until you know.

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