Now that swimming trunks and shorts are well and truly stowed for this year, it’s the perfect time to contemplate the ideal leather belt. Leather belts were originally as a military accessory, dating at least as far back as the ancient Greeks, and they were used for hanging accessories from, than for holding clothes up.
That all changed in the mid nineteenth century though, when European officers’ dress uniforms began to incorporate decorative leather belts. The trend passed into the civilian sphere after the First World War, when returning soldiers kept their wartime belts, rather than reverting to the braces they had worn before they went away to fight.
Conventions soon materialised, and a gent’s leather belt should match his shoes (and his watch strap) in colour. But which are the top five leather belts available in the UK this winter? We think that the answer lies with small British brands that focus on craftsmanship and quality, rather than big designer names that are forced to mass produce to keep up with massive demand for their name.
1. Equus Mornington Bridle Leather belt £117
Equus is a small British company based in County Durham that specialises in handmade, hand- stitched bridle hide belts and watch straps. The Mornington belt is a simple, classic model made from a single length of English tanned bridle hide that should last a lifetime. Each belt is made to order, allowing you to choose leather colour, thread colour, belt width and length, buckle colour, and how many holes and how much space between them. A truly bespoke experience available online that represents great value considering the quality of the materials and craftsmanship employed.
2. Pickett Suede Belt £79.99
Founded in 1988 by Trevor Pickett, Pickett soon established itself as a bastion of high end English artisan luxury leather goods. They recently moved to larger premises in Mayfair. Pickett’s simply named Suede Belt is available in black or tan and with either a chrome or brass buckle. It features soft pale leather lining, and is an elegant, understated choice for casual trousers.
3. Estados Mens Suede Lined Leather Belt in Choc Croc £55
Estados is a British brand just 5 years old that manufactures in Argentina using Argentine calf hides, which are some of the best in the world (alongside Argentine beef!). Their products are designed in Britain for the British market by their Anglo-South American sibling founders, and their Choc Croc (chocolate brown croc print) calf leather belt is a stylish, classic belt which is made to a far higher quality than the price implies. It’s lined with butter soft brushed pig suede, and has a chrome plated brass buckle.
4. Pampeano ‘Multi’ Polo Belt £65.00
Having mentioned Argentine leather belts, it would be a crime to omit the style most closely associated with the South American nation, the polo (or gaucho) belt. Pampeano’s polo belts are among the best, with tougher leather, and British designs. The Multi features a classic combination of thread colours, and is often spotted round the waists of both royalty and celebrities alike.
5. Black Black Crocodile Print Leather Belt £60.00
Founded in 2006, Black specialises in luxury leather and cashmere gifts. Their belts are designed in England and made in Italy from full grain Italian leather. Lizard and Crocodile print are very much in vogue, and this black croc belt is an elegant, chic take on the traditional black leather belt, suitable for both casual and formal occasions.