The Alongsider Wallet: A Thing of Beauty and a Joy Foraverylongtime

It is seldom that one gets a chance to make a purchase without a single scrap of buyer’s remorse. Is it useful? Yes. Is it beautiful? Yes. (William Morris sits back with a contented sigh.) Is it well-made, from quality materials? Yes. Is it environmentally friendly? Yes. Is it ethical? Yes.

As drawn as I am to the idea of simplicity, there are times when buying something is the sensible thing to do, and one of those times is when your wallet/purse starts literally falling to pieces. I wanted a replacement which was practical, hard-wearing, aesthetically pleasing, and ethical. Happily, it did not take me long to find.


I bought an Alongsider Wallet from the Loyal Workshop, a freedom business which provides an alternative form of employment for women in Kolkata who want to exit the sex trade. They are given a living wage, health care, education, legal and financial advice, counselling… the list goes on. They are also trained in the production of beautiful leather products (which are, for those of you who are worrying, tanned using the ecologically sensitive vegetable tanning process).

So not only do you get a high-quality product, you also get to support women leaving a hellish life for a life of dignity and independence. Win, win, win.

But to turn to the details of the wallet in question! (Much more beautiful photos than mine are available here.) It’s a largish wallet – definitely not back-pocket material – but contains so much you could even use it as a clutch purse/handbag.

alongsiderintThere’s space for six or more cards, a pocket for coins which looks like it will spill them everywhere – but doesn’t, a thin pocket for notes, and a thicker pocket which could hold a smartphone, or a notebook and pencil, or a slim block of chocolate… the list goes on. All this, without being chunky.

The leather is beautifully smooth in the hands (and it smells amazing). With time and care, the leather will weather and gain the patina of age, but (unlike my old wallet) it won’t start falling apart. And this is why I chose so carefully: this wallet will be with me for a very long time.

For those of you who are all about the aesthetics, the Alongsider Wallet is available in brown and tan, and comes beautifully packaged. Once you get past the protective layers of packaging for transport, there is an elegant buttoned card envelope, which opens to reveal a sheet of black tissue wrapped around the wallet itself.


For those of you who are not interested in large wallets, the Loyal Workshop also make a smaller, pocket-able wallet, two kinds of satchel (larger and smaller) and two kinds of belt (men’s waists and women’s hips – I am hoping they will add one for women’s waists).

In short, I highly recommend this wallet, particularly for those who want to pair ethics and aesthetics in a product that will last for years and years.

What Do You Call…

a) the thing a person keeps their cash in
b) the thing a person keeps coins in
c) the thing a person keeps the aforementioned things in

and do these terms vary depending on the gender of the person in question?

Public Purse Melbourne

Myself, I call them
a) a wallet (or possibly a purse, if it is basically a little bag with a fastening, as in picture above);
b) a purse (also as in picture above);
c) a bag, bilum or handbag.

I tend to avoid the words purse and handbag when referring to men’s accoutrements, since some consider those words apply only to women’s accoutrements and become uncomfortable and/or offended. And if I’m going to make people uncomfortable and/or offended, I’d rather it was intentional.