person holding brown leather wallet

The status symbol of a large, bulging wallet was once a big, bulky one. A stylish, chic, and small-sized ‘wallette” makes more sense in our post-cash society.

It is time to reduce your financial obligations. This is not a temporary cutback. This is not about tightening your belt. It’s about shrinking your bank account.

My wallet has become more like a wallette. It’s a glorified cardholder. There are slots for swipecards, driving license, and any remaining store cards or membership cards that haven’t yet moved to my phone. Although I rarely use it, there is a press-stud cash compartment. My wallette is made in lipstick-red grained calfskin with gilt YSL letters. It is only a shadow of the former versions.

person holding brown leather wallet

My wallet was already half-full size by the time I got it. I’m not very thrifty and just too lazy to waste my time trying to figure out what to do about the accumulated receipts and loyalty card. The scuff marks were not what pushed me to the brink of buying a new purse. It was the fact that my wallet was too large. It was large enough to fit in a full-sized jeans back pocket. The size of my wallette allows it to be slipped into a front pocket of my jeans. It can be carried in my evening bag and not need to have a debit card or an emergency PS20 like in the old big-wallet days.

It’s not just about me. The baby wallet is big news. Zara was quick to sell Christmas gifts with a PS59.99 boxed set that included a mini-wallet and matching leather gloves. Matchesfashion saw a 117% increase in cardholder sales during the Christmas season. Marks & Spencer is the best-selling brand right now with its diminutive mock-croc cardholder with a starburst snap closure for PS9.50. At Selfridges, the mini-wallet range has grown by a third: it reports that Le Porte, a unisex Jacquemus mini-wallet with a strap so that you can wear it cross-body, or lanyard-style around your neck, is a bestseller at PS240.

Mulberry is a place where wallets are smaller than a chequebook. Demand has shifted to the small and quirky. The multi-card wallet folds in a small, palm-sized 8×11.5cm. Slim cardholders are a popular choice for those who have given up on coins.

I’ve predicted the death of my wallet before. In fact, seven years ago. This is not a boastful statement. However, after reading the article back, it became obvious that I was completely wrong. I was wildly speculative in my prediction that the large wallet would soon die with generation X. Millennials prefer smaller wallets and are daringly trying new things like paying for food and tickets with their smartphones. It didn’t occur to me that cash would soon be obsolete. The pandemic-driven demise of cash and the wallet is to blame. Not just for the practicalities (dirty notes and all), but because it demonstrated that even deeply ingrained habits could change quickly.

Although the rise of the mini-wallet was driven by utility, it is also symbolic. A large wallet is no longer considered a status symbol. Contactless theft wealth has made fat wallets more accessible to the masses. Once, a fat wallet made you appear rich. Now, you might need to save for a wallette.