The Problem With Today's Belts
Walk into your average retail store and i'm sure you will find belts that don't seem to stand up to quality. I've heard of stories of belts cracking, buckles breaking and belts falling apart over a short period of time. The old saying "They don't make them like they used to" is a sentence that can be applied to many belts today.
What is going on?
Many manufactures use two deceptive terms on their leather belts today. They are "Geninue Leather" or "Bonded Leather"
While it is true "Genuine Leather" does refer to authentic leather it is however a much lower quality leather. The leather is split and the lower quality and weaker section is used. This leather can be further processed to make it look like high quality leather. This leather won't last as long as it ss of lower quality and depending on the retailer could be costing the customer more than it's worth.
Image: Structure of Leather
"Bonded Leather" is another deceptive term that is used in the industry. It can be carried under names such as LeatherSoft, Faux Leather, Vinyl, Reconstituted Leather or Composite. "Bonded Leather" is a mixture of genuine leather mixed with a polyurethane binder. Using adhesives, the fibres are then rolled together to bond them onto a paper backing. Manufacturers may add additional coating of polyurethane to the bonded leather and emboss it to have a texture to make it look like real leather. Some manufacturers market bonded leather as real leather but most bonded leather has only 10-20% genuine leather.
We wanted to go against the tide and create some of the finest belts that are available on the market. We wanted to create belts that could be wore year and year without our customers having to worry about buying another one. After many trials and errors trying different types of leather, buckles and thread. We selected traditional oak bark tanned bridle leather for our Traditional Oak Bark Belt and vegetable tanned bridle leather for our Classic Leather Belt.
Bridle leather has its tradition in horse bridles. Before the era of the combustion engine most people traveled with the assistance of horses. Horses had bridles, harnesses, saddles and all other types of leather to make it comfortable for both the rider and the horse. The leather on the horses had to be able to withstand the weather. Whether it was raining, blistering sun, snow, humid or a nice sunny day. Leather tanners would get around this by heavily conditioning the leather with waxes and grease after the tanning process. Getting the waxes and greases deep within the leather for longevity. This proved very effective, the leather was thick, strong, smooth, light, durable, comfortable to hold and had the added protection with the conditioning and waxes. To maintain the leather one would have to make sure it was conditioned to avoid drying out and cracking.
Image: US Forestry Ranger at Citadel Peak in Montana 1910.
While cars have replaced horses today, tanneries still produce bridle and harness leather, the same bridles and harness leather also happens to be very good at making high quality leather belts. The thick, smooth, light and strong leather has the added benefit of the waxes and greases that the tannery applies after the tanning process. The leather being full grain with a thickness of 3.5mm - 4mm for our Classic Leather Belt and 5mm - 5.5mm for our Traditional Oak Belt allows for high durability and hard wearing. Whether that's facing the elements, hanging weight from the belt or just wearing the belt day to day. The leather that we have chosen not only has the strength but also the beauty to survive life's adventures.
Buckles are a important part of a belt. Not only are they a key component but it lays the groundwork of what you would wear the belt for. We chose a classic design for our buckles to allow the belt to be worn in most situations and formalities. We also made sure they came with the highest quality and solid pure materials. Our buckles are made in a foundry in England by a company that has a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty The Queen. Each one of our belts are fitted with these buckles to ensure the most highest quality.
Our belts are not fitted with screws, rivets or any other type of hardware but are completely hand stitched along the belt. We decided to hand stitch the belt as it adds a fine, elegant look to the belt but also provides superior strength. The traditional saddle stitch is the strongest stitch and cannot be replicated by a machine. The two threads cross each other in the hole and a knot is made which holds the thread securely in place.This allows the stitch not to unravel if the stitches are broken unlike a machine stitch. The hand stitching along bridle leather is also seen in saddlery where bridles were often hand stitched near the buckle because of the strength and durability of the saddle stitch.
Image: Joseph M. Leather Traditional Oak Bark Belt (38mm) in Colour Australian Nut