We sat down for a chat with the chaps from Bellroy to find out more about the brand, its products and the meaning behind the iconic owl logo.
By Daniel Loy
If you haven’t heard of Bellroy by now, then you definitely should. The Australian company has dedicated itself to producing high quality leather wallets that maintain a slim silhouette without consumers having to break bank. Of course, having a slim wallet means leaving out the unnecessary stuff like unused cards and receipts, along with the dreaded coins that add unwanted heft. Bellroy actively advocates these tips, and by following them and using one of their innovative wallets, the man on the street can enjoy a neat accessory that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Bellroy’s latest Elements Range even caters to those who lead an active lifestyle. Comprising three types of wallets – Elements Sleeve, Elements Pocket and Elements Travel – the wallets are protected against harsh elements like rain, sand and snow. Bellroy’s Brand Manager Lincoln Eather and Sales Director Josh Rogers were in Singapore recently to promote the new range and we caught up with them for a chat about their work with the brand.
First thing’s first, guys. Take us through a brief history of Bellroy.
Lincoln: We started our retail launch in August 2010, but took about a year before that to do testing and refining our wallet designs till we got to the point where we had a collection we thought would make an impact and that we were happy with.
Josh: We started off with with four guys and five wallet designs. Now we have 11 wallet designs and 40 employees spread over our offices in Jan Juc and Melbourne. We have distributors all over the world, more than 450 retailers carrying our products and we ship to over 100 different countries.
That’s quite a feat. Do you think you’ve made it and achieved mainstream appeal?
L: I don’t think any of us see it that way. We’re constantly trying to improve and evolve ourselves and the business. Man, I think there’s a helluva lot of people out there that need better wallets, and we haven’t even gone close to them yet.
J: Yeah, there’s still a lot of refinement to be done with our wallets. We consistently try to produce the best we can, and that’s the type of journey that you never have an end to, because of the way technology and lifestyles evolve and the way tastes change.
Bellroy wallets are known for maintaining a slim form factor. What else is cool about them?
J: With our wallets, you will see some little imperfections and if you wear raw denim, the leather will naturally absorb some color and develop character. Like a good pair of denim jeans or leather shoes, it breaks in over time. Customers have sent us photos of their wallets after six months of use and it shows the journey those wallets have gone through.
We love that and don’t want our wallets to come from the cookie cutter, where every piece looks the same and there’s no individuality. This is something we pride ourselves on; treating the leather as it’s meant to be and letting it evolve over time.
It’s funny how a simple accessory like the wallet can transform one’s lifestyle.
L: If you carry less in your pocket but still have the essentials, it allows you to roam more freely. You don’t have to be weighed down by unorganized pocket contents and can do things more confidently. The wallet will not be a liability, a stress or an eyesore. We want to produce something that people can pull out in public and be proud of.
Just how much research and prototyping goes into a Bellroy wallet?
L: It took about 12 months of research and development before the Elements Range came out. Even after releasing a wallet, we continue to add little improvements that we don’t talk about. As a consumer, if you have two iterations of a product, you might notice all of a sudden that the wallet does something a little bit better. We don’t have seasonal collections so it’s about non-stop, relentless evolution of a product.
We’ve always been curious though, why an owl as your logo?
L: There’s the element of owls being wise, and one of the major things we noticed is that owls can be found in every continent around the world. We kinda see ourselves in that light and hey, owls are cool and everyone loves them.
J: One of the ideas that drives Bellroy is the idea of being a global citizen and being able to provide solutions for people anywhere in the world.
What are your thoughts on expanding your lineup to include other types of products?
J: We intentionally kept the range pretty tight to start with. We’ve all been previously involved with brands that work on a huge number of products, but end up losing focus and putting products in the market that aren’t quite 100%. So nothing ever makes our range unless it’s right and ready to go. We have a lot of ideas but at this stage, it’s all wallets.
L: We’ll be focusing on just pocket contents for the foreseeable future, so anything in and around what you carry in your pockets, we’re definitely thinking about how to improve and make it better.
And how’s a day like in the office?
J: Fun, yet hectic. I get in, look at my to-do list and that goes out the window in half an hour ’cause of the new things that come in. We certainly work hard, are constantly traveling and always thinking about how wallets and other innovations.
L: A day in the office consists of great conversations between a good group of people who are all chasing the same goals.
J: Plus, we go surfing at lunchtime! Yeah, we check the waves twice a day. Maybe that’s the real boardroom where we have our board meetings (laughs).
L: Yeah, our office in Jan Juc is 300 meters away from the beach.
Collaborations are the name of the game. Any plans to go down that road?
L: Totally! We’ve got a couple in the pipeline that’s been bubbling away for the past couple of months. You should see them come out over the next year and it’s really quite exciting.
J: We feel that a collaboration should be a joint venture where both parties can educate and help each other. It’s not just taking a Bellroy wallet and stamping someone else’s logo on it. It’s important to find partners that we can learn from and help educate as well.
L: Yeah, there’s a lot of opportunities to communicate with new audiences, cross-pollinate customers and learn new things. A collaboration should create something the two brands would never be able to do by themselves.
Which is your personal favorite amongst the range of wallets?
L: The Java Slim Sleeve. It balances perfectly for me storage in excess, while maintaining a slim silhouette. Java is a new colorway in the Slim Sleeve range and it is Cognac-colored on the inside. So it’s a little bit like business on the front but part at the back.
J: I love the Slim Sleeve too. We always try to switch it up between the wallets; I have a love affair with the Passport Sleeve too. Man, it’s like choosing a child and being asked which one do you like the most.
Bellroy slim leather wallets are priced from S$79 to S$199. Check out where Bellroy is available in Singapore and the region here!