After spending a rather exorbitant amount of money in duty-free today at the Madrid Airport—and not feeling guilty about it—I realized that this is no new trend of mine. I’ve been spoiling myself since last October! Whether it’s mens grooming products, health/beauty crap, nicer clothes or locally-made arts & crafts, I’ve been collecting all sorts of nice things these past months. And I can pretty much trace it down to my one day in Rome…

A flashback to October:

Rome Monti - Shopping

The most amazing news!!! I’ve finally found it! I’ve finally found the perfect wallet!

It was a long-time coming. My previous wallet, a cloth-nylon-hybrid thing from Topman had flopped out on me well over a year ago. The strap that was holding it together was stretched out like something I don’t even want to think about. There were multiple holes in the lining and the credit card slots no longer held my cards thanks to being torn to shreds. But I hadn’t found a suitable replacement and so I held onto this one-time favorite for as long as I could.

Until Rome.

I’ve already explained my love for the Eternal City. A city for forever, it’s also one of my favorite European destinations for shopping. In previous visits I’ve picked up belts and t-shirts, and so on my most recent trip to Rome, I sought out a wallet. Friends told me to explore the Monti neighborhood, especially along Via del Boschetto. I wandered the boutique shops there for an hour or so before I turned the corner and ended up at a little shop on a side street. In the window was just what I was looking for: wallets.

Not being entirely optimistic (this must’ve been the hundredth shop across Europe where I’ve looked at wallets), I stepped inside. A “hello” from the friendly, older man at the shop counter. I picked up the wallet and I knew this was it; the wallet was just what I was looking for.

Simple and elegant, with two slots for paper monies and enough places for my credit cards. There was no coin purse/pocket — something that I’ve learned is hard to find in Europe. Here, where coins are in significant and sizable denominations, all the mens wallets seem to come with coin purses. Despite living in Europe for two years now, I still can’t get used to coins in my wallet. They belong in my front pocket (or between my couch cushions). The wallet I’d been looking for needed to be wide enough to fit a variety of currencies. Euro 50€ notes are quite wide, and British pound notes can fit awkwardly in American-made wallets.

MNMUR perfect wallet

The wallet I ended up with, from this boutique shop in Rome, is made by the Italian fashion label MNMUR. Based in Italy, they sell bags, wallets, belts and accessories made out of old bicycle tires. They call it “upcycled design” which seems fitting. These products are eco-friendly but still stylish. My wallet (the MICRO) has all my requirements for a perfect wallet and it still manages to stay slim. Its flat, wide design somehow keeps it from feeling bulky in my back pocket. And I feel quite proud of the fact that it’s eco-friendly.

Plus: it’s made out of a bicycle wheel. You can’t really get much more hipster than that!

Check out MNMUR’s full collection of wallets online: The MICRO wallet which I purchased has a retail price of 40€

UPDATE 2014: I found the business card where I originally bought this wallet! It’s at a shop called UPDATE Uomo at Via Leonina, 187, 00184 Rome. Though I’m not sure if the business is still open. Regardless, the Monti neighborhood is full of cool hipstery shops.

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