I have been hunting for a small, thin, efficient, rugged wallet for years that isn’t overly expensive. I want something that I can just grab out of my purse that contains all of my basic necessities whenever the time calls for it and will fit in my pockets. Most women’s wallets and even men’s trifold or bifold wallets are too large for me and just won’t cut it. I wasn’t exactly looking for a minimalist type wallet either – just, you know, the perfect sized wallet. Yeah, I’m a pretty finicky consumer. I’ve been using a change purse for years that had two zippered pockets; one held all of my cards and the other held my money. This, however, is inefficient since all of my cards are not separated into pockets. When Garzini wallets were offered to the Gadgeteer for review, the fact that they were small and made of leather immediately struck my interest. I was granted the opportunity to review them and was sent two wallets to critique. In summary, with only a couple of reservations, I found that they suit me and my husband better than any other wallet ever has. They are made of leather, are organized, and make efficient use of available space by providing slots both on the outside and inside of the wallet. They also have the unique “Versaflex” system that allows the wallet to adapt its size based on what the wallet contains and allows you to open the wallet along either long edge.
One of the wallets sent to me was the “Grigio Carbon” (grey) colored Essenziale which essentially looks black to me. It is also available in blue and black colors (no tan). It arrived in a nice, easy-to-open box and was wrapped in tissue paper with a small cardstock card inserted in between the fold of the wallet to prevent the sides from rubbing against each other.
The wallet is made from genuine leather and has three slots on each side of the outer portion of the wallet. The leather of this wallet has a matte finish and seems nice enough although it doesn’t have a premium feel to it in my opinion. The stitching looks sturdy enough, yet, only time will tell for sure if the wallet will last. The wallet measures 10cm x 7.5cm.
The wallet may be opened from either of the long edges of the wallet. Each side of the inner portion of the wallet has one slot for cards. The two narrow strips of leather on the left side and the single wide strip of leather (with the Garzini stamp) on the right side are meant to hold your paper money. As you can also see, the wallet is made entirely of leather. Other “magic” wallets use elastic straps instead of leather to hold banknotes.
My husband chose to use this wallet. When holding a total of six cards in the outer slots of the wallet, it is a bit of a tight fit and thus takes a little more time to extract a card when you need it. This may have been made like this on purpose to make sure that you don’t accidentally lose your cards when handling the wallet. There is the possibility that the leather will stretch slightly over time, thus reducing this difficulty in the future. According to the Garzini website, it is possible to insert more than one card per slot, but neither of us wanted to stretch the leather out that much and the fit was already fairly tight with only a single card in each slot.
In addition to expanding to fit your needs, the Versaflex system used in the Garzini wallets also allows the user to open the wallet along either long edge. Notice the tricolored woven tag sewn along the lower left edge of the wallet in the above photo. When opening the wallet along this edge, your dollar bills are held in place by two leather straps on the left side of the wallet.
When opening the wallet along the opposite edge of the tricolored tag, you’ll notice that the tag is now located in the center of the wallet. The money is now held in place by the single wide strip of leather on the right side of the wallet. It’s actually quite fun to alternate flipping the wallet open along one edge, then the other and watch as your money seems to switch sides.
It is important to note that if you only have a single receipt or banknote to carry, each may easily slip out of the wallet when you open it because the leather straps are a little too loose to hold a single thin item adequately. I had to tuck the single dollar bill or receipt under the straps nearest to the edges of the wallet where the straps are tighter to prevent this from happening.
When full (six cards on the outside of the wallet, one additional card in one inner slot plus a couple of other paper-thin cards/coupons in the other inner slot) the wallet is 3/4 inch thick. This is a great improvement for my husband since his older wallet was probably about 1.5 inches thick and had been that way for probably two decades. I personally don’t know how he survived that long with that old thing. He is truly much happier with his new wallet!
The Essenziale Finestra
Another wallet sent to me to review was the “Marrone Rossiccio” (tan) colored Essenziale Finestra. It is available in blue, grey, and black colors as well. It too came in the same easy, elegant packaging as the Essenziale.
The Essenziale Finestra is also completely made of a matte genuine leather and eliminates three slots on one outer side of the wallet in favor of a window for your identification. This wallet measures 10cm x 7.5cm – the same as the Essenziale.
The other outer side of the wallet is just like the Essenziale – it too has three slots to hold your cards.
The inner portion of the wallet is also the same as the Essenziale: one inner pocket on each side to carry additional cards. There are also the same two narrow strips of leather (not elastic) on the left side and a single wide strip of leather on the right side of the wallet to hold your paper money, receipts, business cards, etc.
The above photo illustrates that the size of the Essenziale Finestra and Essenziale are slightly larger than my leather change purse that I have been using for years.
The Essenziale Finestra is the wallet that I chose to use. The window on this side of the wallet has an oval cutout in the center to make extracting your ID easier.
I inserted three cards into the slots on the opposite side of the wallet. The fit is just like that of the Essenziale – snug, thus making it a little difficult to extract your cards when necessary. Yet, I much prefer a tighter fit to losing a card when using the wallet.
The inner part of the wallet held all my other essentials (proof of insurance, health insurance card, dental insurance card, debit card, and paper money.) The straps of leather that hold the money are also loose like that of the Essenziale and thus by carrying a single dollar bill (or receipt or business card) there was the potential to lose it when opening the wallet. Again, I had to tuck the single dollar or receipt under the straps nearest to the edges of the wallet where the straps are tighter to prevent this from happening.
Although Garzini makes a couple of other versions of these wallets that contain storage for your coins, the wallets that were sent to me to review do not. I thought that I might miss having this feature, but I have discovered just how much I loathe carrying change and thus found that I didn’t miss it at all. Most purchases that I make are completed using credit cards and when I do use cash, I’ll just throw the change into our car’s change tray.
Another interesting feature of the Versaflex system is that it automatically inserts your banknotes into the leather straps inside. How? Simply lay your paper money inside the wallet, close the wallet, and then open the wallet from the opposite long edge. Voila! The wallet pulls the money into the straps (see video above). It’s a pretty neat trick and fun to play with. There was a little bit of resistance when I pulled on the opposite long edge to draw the money into the straps depending on the number of bills I inserted, but it worked like a charm every time!
I also love that this wallet is just 5/8 inch thick and keeps all my cards and money organized.
The Garzini website contains leather care instructions for your wallet and suggests that when your wallet gets too wet, that you let it dry out slowly by simply exposing it to air but avoid heat and direct sunlight which can lead to “deformations”. And if your wallet looks dry, you may use a natural cream or leather conditioner (none are specified on the website). The wallet may look darker initially after treatment but when dry, it will return to its original color. Treat stains using a damp cloth and if the stain is somewhat stubborn, the website suggests using soapy water (a tiny amount of soap or dishwashing liquid goes a long way). Allow the wallet to completely dry before applying a natural cream or leather conditioner.
The Garzini Essenziale and Essenziale Finestra are fantastic wallets. My husband and I have used these wallets for almost three weeks now and they are by far our favorite wallets ever. These wallets are ideal for men and women and they keep our credit cards, business cards, receipts, and bank notes organized. They are small, thin, lightweight and easily store in your pockets. They make efficient use of space (cards are stored on the outside as well as the inside of the wallet); they are made of durable genuine leather; and the Versaflex system, which uses leather straps to hold banknotes (instead of elastic bands used in other magic wallets which are much less durable than leather), allows the wallet to expand based on what you carry and allows you to open the wallet from either side.
There are only two drawbacks to these wallets: the price and the looseness of the leather straps that hold your banknotes. The Essenziale is $40 and the Essenziale Finestra is $45. In addition to their relatively high price tag, the leather straps are a little too loose to hold a single receipt, banknote, or business card. To help remedy this I had to tuck a single dollar bill or receipt under the straps nearest to the edges of the wallet where the straps are tighter to prevent them from falling out. This may be a significant detail that you may want to consider before purchasing this expensive wallet. Even with these considerations, I must say that I totally love this wallet. It satifies almost all of my demands for a wallet and I can’t imagine going back to any other system for carrying my money or cards.
My husband and I have been using the Garzini Essenziale and Essenziale Finestra wallets as our everyday use wallets for almost two years now and we LOVE them. Each still looks fantastic and is wonderfully organized for easy access to all that we need.