What’s In A Handmade Belt

The weakness for exceptional shoes rarely stops at the feet. The need for beautiful, well crafted, pleasant to touch and wear objects extends invariably into the rest of the wardrobe. We started projecting on a good belt not long after our first Zonkey Boot shoe collection. Some might ask what took us so long. Some already did. A couple of weeks ago, during dinner one dear friend of ours showed us his custom made belt which he had purchased in a high-end shop during one of his trips to Germany. He went in, chose the leather, the buckle and 15 minutes later he left the shop freshly belted.

The difference is that some belts are simply made of a buckle riveted to a leather strap. Ours are a bit more sophisticated. To adjust the length for a Made-to-Measure belt, the silver-plated buckle can be removed and the belt is invisibly cut at the buckle’s end.

Good belts have a lining to avoid your trousers getting stained and an inlay to give the belt its profile and durability. These inlays may be of scrap leather or any other substitute for leather. For our belts we use one single piece of three millimetre thick bovine neck leather which serves as lining and inlay in one. The bovine necks have undergone a special tanning process to make them tear resistant and smooth at the same time and suitable for hand stitching. Exactly the same leather we use for the hand sewn welts of our shoes. The preparatory work for cutting and fitting the pieces together takes approximately two hours.

Staining, polishing and stitching, all done by hand, take another five hours. All for a durable product.

Ageing can be beautiful, but it takes its toll, especially on a belt’s seams, near the buckle. Anybody who has tried to have machine-sewn leather goods re-sewn knows that it mostly turns out ugly because the new stitches are not precisely matching the pricking of the old seam. That is why we prefer to have our belts stitched by hand. The entire seam can later be opened up and renewed perfectly. Give it a fresh polish and it’s like new again. Only more beautiful.