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In the Making: Old Calgary

Since we swapped out our old hulking tri-fold wallet for the Oxford card sleeve we got in our November box, not only has our back pain has subsided, but we’re actually pretty psyched to pick up the bill. We asked Old Calgary founder and craftsman Justin Charlton for the story behind our new wallet. The former Apple employee gave the background on his material sourcing, design, and craftsmanship.

Materials

Stack
“I went to Italy to source leather. It took me two weeks and 23 Tuscan tanneries before I found the right one. The stuff is vegetable-tanned in wood drums, a process that takes months to complete (and years to perfect). The leather that emerges is beautiful and durable. As for our wool felt, it’s made in German wool mills more than a century old. It’s water-resistant 100 percent merino wool. I think it’s the perfect partner to Italian leather.”

Tools

Factory
“Each piece is cut with a 50-ton hydraulic clicker press. We use hand-forged steel dies to cut the wool and leather. Leather pockets and components get moved onto the stamping assembly, where they are stamped with a hand-operated hot stamp machine, and become official Old Calgary products. We use an array of hand tools for finishing: German tailor shears and rotary blades, American-made rawhide mallets, knives, punch presses, and industrial letter pressed inserts. We use state of the art Juki sewing machines to fashion the seams of each case and wallet, but only non-computerized machines, which allows us to finely tune and precisely stitch each design.”

Testing

Wallet
“We hand out prototypes to friends and colleagues to use in their daily lives and ‘have at it’ to test durability and functionality. This way you can see how the design fares in real life in terms of functional aspects like ease of use and storage capacity. Once we establish a design that works, we push it through the final stages of design refinement, and it's off to the workshop for production.”

Check out a short video clip of Old Calgary’s design work here. And for even more visual inspiration, check out the brand’s blog.

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