We’re taking the comparison of the Bellroy Slim Sleeve wallet’s to the table. The original, designer and premium will be strutting their stuff to see which should be in your pocket!
(if you want to see all the features and how many cards and cash it can hold, please watch the video)
Bellroy keeps producing different versions of the slim sleeve design like rabbits going on spring break, so what are the differences?
This comparison used the Original, the Designer, and the Premium Slim Sleeve wallets. The Apex was not included as its construction is vastly different from the first three. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the comparison between the Original and this Designer edition, check it out as it’s a good primer.
We’ll do a close up comparison of design, card and cash storage, the quality and construction of the wallets, feature differences, and finally, wallet details.
In opening up each wallet, what’s the difference? Specifically, it’s in the cut of the card slots on the interior. The Original has a step down cut which provides excellent access for finger and thumb to grab cards whereas the Designer and Premium have a slant cut. Still providing access, but a design difference. Despite the small interior change in the layout design between the Original, Designer and Premium, they hold the same number of cards. Bellroy says they can hold between 4 to 12, plus some cash. In our testing we put six cards in each wallet. It’s a perfect number before the leather starts stretching, with three slips of cash folded over once, it’s the way to go. Yen and larger pound and euro notes will need to be folded into thirds or fourths, but all other currencies folded once work well in this wallet.
From a quality perspective, the difference in construction is the largest single difference since the basic features and capacity are the same. Leather is one of the main differences with the Original, being constructed from a top-grain veg tan leather. The Designer uses a full-grain nubuck leather. It’s also veg tanned, which gives it a suede type feel and it’s very soft. The cut of the leather on the Designer is a heavier weight, meaning it’s thicker than what we see on the Original. The Premium also uses the same leather weight, also in a full grain veg tan leather, but the leather was tanned using a different method. Called Drytan, which we’ve mentioned before and was formulated by the ECCO group, it uses very little water in a process that traditionally, for thousands of years, has been a very water intensive process.
Beyond the leather, another difference is where Bellroy anchors the pull-straps. On the Original, it’s anchored to the back of the leather and can be seen on the exterior of the wallet, not the best aesthetic. The passthrough loop is also reinforced on both sides, which prevents it from tearing through the interior guide. The Designer is very much like what we see with the Premium, it is not anchored on the exterior. This keeps the aesthetic clean, and like the Original, both have the reinforced loop passthrough which ensures longevity. Another significant difference is with the edge treatment, which is painted for the Designer and the Premium edition. Also, we can see that the final leather finish is sewn through on both sides and is not wrapped like with the Original. What makes that important is the edge treatment provides a wear layer before betting to the leather itself. And unlike the Designer and Premium, the Original leather folds over the edges and is then sewn. With no additional edge protection, if the leather wears through, then it becomes frayed and starts to look bad.
Let’s look at a few details of each wallet. From a leather weight perspective, which is determined in “ounces”, the Original is 2 ounces, but the Designer and Premium are at 2 ½ ounces. That’s interesting. If we look at the weight, the Original is 27 grams, while the Designer is 37 grams and the Premium 38 grams. More leather in the Designer and Premium than we see in the Original explaining the weight difference. Measurements for the Original is 3.74 x 3.15 x 0.2”. The Designer and Premium wallets are 0.4” thick, which comes from the additional leather weight mentioned earlier.
For pricing, the Slim Sleeve Original is $79, the Designer, which appears to be a short run and not sure if it will return, was selling for $139, with the Premium still selling for $115. From a usability perspective, all three wallets are essentially designed the same and from my personal carry experience, it’s an excellent wallet in almost all aspects. Looking at accessibility from your pocket and contents, it sits tight and low profile in your front or back pocket and is one of Mark’s Favorite Wallets.
If you’re looking for something that’s less expensive, the Original is your best option to decide if you like the wallet enough to upgrade, or if you want something that may last you a little bit longer then the Designer or Premium is your better option.
Evolving from Bellroy's Original and Designer Slim Sleeve, the Premium provides more finishing touches and is the pinnacle of the designs evolution.