A few months ago, Kiya of Self Edge raised the issue of ‘crappy’ leather in the SuperFuture ‘Belts’ thread…and it really got me thinking about the vegetable tanned leathers that we used on our belts.
What are the differences between an American vegetable tanned steer hide in comparison to an English ‘bridle’ leather?
What makes one veg. tan better than another?
What are the differences in the processing of ‘unfinished’ leather between the different tanneries around the world?
So I started reading and browsing more and more on this subject…
Even though I still cannot fully answer the questions I’ve posed above, I came to the realisation that most of the fine belts which my favourite Japanese denim brands are making were made of leather from UK, US, Italy, and other such places…very rarely do these reproduction companies utilize leather from their own country.
So my conclusion was that if I could somehow get a hold of experienced craftsmen who can readily source the highest quality leathers from renowned local tanneries, then this ‘custom-made’ route for procuring my leathers would make much more sense than buying from the large leather companies or denim brands we are familiar with on the forums.
Long story short, in search of the finest leather for belting, eventually I was introduced to English oak-bark tanned leather by William of Tender Co and his wonderful type 200 belts.
And it was through the tannery that Tender was using for their oak-bark belts that I found Terry Dear, leathercraft extraordinaire.
After some months of organisation (mostly by Terry) and gathering a list of interested forum members, our project of extorting a natural oak-bark belt from Terry has sprouted results!
Four of these belts arrived today (not all mine obviously), and I’m very excited to share some pictures with you:
The leather on this one probably doesn’t need much introduction since I’ve been harping on about it for some weeks now.
Just to reiterate: it is a 15oz + undyed butt which has gone through 12 months of progressive oak-bark tannage with special emphasis on bringing out the texture and prominence of the grain (so called ‘growth’).
It has the same overall design and buckle style as my previous belt made by Terry;
the sturdy hand-stitching;
the forged brass buckle;
the fantastically smooth burnish;
the nicely tapered tip;
the well finished backside;
the impeccable edge-lining;
Every aspect of construction is faultless.
The combination of expert handmade and the ridiculously awesome leather makes this the juggernaut of belts, the planet buster, the king of the hill.
This belt will be the standard from which I will now compare all belts to.
I’ll be posting some updates of this belt as it wears over the next months and years 🙂