STORY OF THE PERFECT LEATHER BELT
STORY OF THE PERFECT LEATHER BELT
In life, everyone goes through different periods of style: hair or clothing. Sometimes, when we look at old photos, we ask ourselves the supreme question: Why? And yes, when we see our "coolest" and "most elegant" outfit of 10 years ago compared to today's, there is often a world. We've all experienced this kind of evolution before. The funny thing when we look back at photos from a few years ago is to realise that we still have a shirt, coat, bag or accessory in our wardrobe that will stand up to our tastes. Such as your good old and beloved leather belt. You are wearing it to add the final touch to your style, for its solidity or to hold a pair of trousers. But what is it really for? And what do you really expect from a leather belt?
From 3000 BC to 2030 ( and even more! )
To the West it was the unknown, to the East the shadows revealed the Barbarians, to the North there was the Gallic who fought again and again against the Romans, and around the Mediterranean, the Greeks and Egyptians had only one idea in their minds: to touch the sky. However, they all had one thing in common: they were the precursors of the belt and developed their own styles. During Antiquity, the first age of this accessory, the belt was mostly worn for esthetic goals. The oldest models looked like heavy decorative ornaments with forged pendants. You had to be strong to look beautiful. Later, the first cloth belts were used to carry tools and everyday objects such as a leather purse or compass.
Then came the Industrial Revolution (19th century): the steam engine and textile factories were in full swing, coal was the new gold, and people left farming life for the beginnings of urban life, the symbol of renewal. During this time, the belt, highly cherished by the bourgeoisie, also went through a revolution, slowly becoming more popular in all levels of society. Workers, small and large merchants, people of high and low social rank - the belt seduced everyone.
Later, in the 1920s, the British military upgraded its functionality. Picture yourself in the middle of a mission, in the pouring rain, with a rope that becomes heavy and bothered you because it was water-soaked: it was not the most convenient solution. So they change this rope used to tighten their trousers into a leather strap with a buckle. And that's how the leather belt was born!
The belt keeps evolving over the years, becoming a fashion accessory by itself. In the 1930s, it’s already part of the Hermès House with the gloves and jewellery, before the emergence of women's and men's couture within the brand.
At Gucci, when we talk about belts, we instantly think of the famous leather model with the GG double buckle: a classic of the luxury brand. In fact, the belt is a serious thing for them. The households the title of "the most expensive belt in the world" with its platinum belt and its 30 carats of diamonds meticulously overlaid in the buckle. Its price? £159,995 or around €186,000 (yes, it does exist...).
Today, although the belt is reinterpreted through different materials, leather remains one of the favourite choices when buying this accessory. Why a leather belt is and will always be worn?
A never-ending story
Back in the 1970-the 80s, the style of that period is not so different from today: the round John Lennon glasses, the raw jeans, the falsely neglected beard and moustache duo and that famous leather belt. In a cyclical way, at each decade, we can relate the dress codes of the past to current trends. The same goes for the leather belt: your grandparents, your parents and yourself have had it in your wardrobe. Timeless? Yes and even better, intergenerational.
Whether for men or women, the leather belt is a reference well anchored in our minds, even if there are many versions available (colour, shape...). This accessory that everyone has one day or another gives an elegant or casual touch to all your outfits:
PARTY TIME DAILY OUTFITS
Moreover, its timeless shades (black, dark/light brown, cognac...) perfect its flexibility.
What do you expect from a leather belt?
It makes sense, but it is good to remember that a good leather belt is made of leather. We know very well what we humans can invent, create and divert elements to create an ideal: an imitation brick wall, sugar without sugar, the car without a driver or gold jewellery without gold (watch out for the scam!). Anyway, whatever the invention, a leather belt is and will remain made of leather (even animal or vegetable).
So what is the ideal leather belt?
We're not going to “reinvent the wheel”, both robust and pleasant to touch, leather is a reference material made to last over time. Having a leather belt is the guarantee of being able to enjoy your accessory for a long time!
You need to go for robust leather that keeps an authentic look. There are different types of leather, but also different degrees of quality. In general, belts are made of cowhide or calfskin leather. Several options are available: animal leather, which gives a nice patina over time, or vegetable leather, which is an alternative that offers a fairly similar appearance.
Another trick to make sure you have a strong belt: the finishing touches! Designing and making a leather belt is real know-how, so every detail counts. For example, a good leather belt will hold the buckle better if it has elements that are sewn rather than glued.
And what about colour? Our advice is: do it your way! Typically, there are two possibilities: have a colour in the same shades as the clothes you wear or opt for a more distinct shade. Black, dark brown, cognac... There's no lack of options to adopt the style that suits you.
The best is to have a model with a single loop, a single buckle and 5 levels of adjustment. Why 5? When you try it on, you should be able to close it in the middle notch. Usually, with 5 holes, a belt is considered to fit properly if it fits tight enough at the waist to hold your jeans/pants without leaving marks at the third hole.
To conclude the checklist of criteria that the perfect leather belt must fulfil we have: the width of the belt and the buckle. If you want to have a belt with style without having the look of a cowboy ready to fight with the sheriff, follow the guide :
In general, a belt should be between 2.5 and 3.5 cm (1 inch and 1.3 inches) wide for a more formal outfit and up to 5 cm (2 inches) wide on jeans for a more casual look. The esthetic advantage of a belt is threefold: it hides the button, the closure of the jeans/pants and creates a break with your body shape.
We advise you to avoid too imposing buckles, they will tend to break your silhouette and to lack elegance.
For the shape, you will usually have a flat buckle on a more classic, thinner belt for a more professional style. On the other hand, for a more relaxed style, you'll find slightly wider belt buckles with more rounded shapes.
For colour, the choice is yours! There is no specific code. However, you can adjust your choice to match your buckle to any accessories you may be wearing (watch, cufflinks, tie clips...).
The creation of BILLYBELT leather belts
The belt is one of the first products we developed at Billybelt. An iconic accessory that is for us a must-have in the men's wardrobe. In the same way that we have revisited the woven belt, we have also developed our leather belt model.
Before reaching your wardrobe, this famous belt goes through many stages ( reflection, design, samples, approval). We invite you behind the scenes of its conception:
THE GENESIS OF OUR MODELS
At the beginning, there is an idea: propose a new leather belt with the objective of delivering it to you in a new version.
To inspire us and build our future models, we had 3 different styles of belts:
- a formal style: a thin belt, without visible seams,
- a timeless style: a common raw belt with a large buckle,
- a clean style: a simple model with modern lines and a double buckle integrated into the belt loop.
To give shape to our designs, we create a mood board, which is a collection of visuals, texts and inspirations that express each style of belt. This step also involves looking at what was, is and could be done in a belt (different styles, buckles, widths, appearances, textures, etc.).
The first decisions were quickly made: the formal style was discarded as it was less fitting with what Billybelt wanted to express and we focused on the other two styles (carefully revisited by us):
The classic one, with raw effect leather and a wider buckle in brushed metal: the incarnation of the original leather belt to be worn with jeans.
The timeless one, with a less marked leather and a black buckle. Discreet at first glance, the integrated loop adds a modern touch. Its smoother and cleaner effect goes just as well on jeans, chino or a suit.
From the idea to the drawing, the projection and the real dimension allowed us to refine our choices and to make our designs evolve to reach their final versions. It is at this stage, known as "draft", that we ensure that the belt is easy to wear, easy to put on and that it fits the clothes you already have. Drafting is also a question of style. We have ensured that the right details are used to avoid creating a belt that is indistinguishable from others or pushing the boundaries of originality to the point of making it a real cowboy accessory.
From the first version to the second version to the delivered version
Months passed before we got to the final versions of our leather belts. We don't mass-produce products, so we have to be sure of what we're going to propose. From samples to samples, from prototypes to prototypes, from tests to tests and from doubts to favourites: our goal is reached. These months have enabled us to fine-tune our models in every detail (the width of the loop, the position of the logo, the cut of the spikes, the style of the buckle, the stitching...)