Buying a leather belt can be tricky. You want to get something that is durable, comfortable, and fashionable at an affordable price. But you also need to consider the type of material it's made from because not all belts are created equal. This article will give you some tips on what to avoid when shopping for a new leather belt.
TLDR: You should never purchase belts made with genuine leather or bonded leather. Shop for a belt made by a local craftsperson using full grain leather.
Avoid Buying Genuine Leather
Genuine leather is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to quality. A genuine leather belt might make a good first impression, but won't last long and is not worth the money. They are basically made with scrap pieces of leather that have been recycled and glued together into a cheap piece of junk. The glue used is not strong enough to keep the material from tearing apart when you wear it.
This reversible belt is less than one year old. It looks terrible.
Is genuine leather real leather, or is it just a scam?
Genuine leather is technically real leather, but just barely. It is the lowest quality leather product made using leather scraps and glue. The word "genuine" is meant to mislead a customer into believing the belt is made with good quality material, but it's not. Genuine leather is not as durable and long-lasting as other types of leather, like top grain or full grain. When you see "100% Genuine Leather" or "pure leather belt" on a product, know is a gimmicky stamp of approval. Don't fall for it - you'll be sorry you wasted your money. Just put the belt back on the rack and walk away.
Never buy bonded leather belts
Bonded leather isn't even real leather. It is a man-made material made of genuine leather scraps glued together into sheets. The bond isn't designed to hold long, so expect a bonded leather belt to start to split or crack within a few months.
Bonded leather belts are typically priced very low and you'll sometimes see them advertised as genuine leather products. These belts can only trick your eyes and can't hide their crappy origins. Don't be fooled and don't waste your hard-earned money on bad belts.
Questions to ask when shopping for a new leather belt
Here are a few key questions you should ask before buying a new belt.
What is a good quality leather belt made from? What leather lasts the longest?
So, how long does a leather belt last? Full grain leather belts are heavy duty products made to last many years of use. If you've ever heard of "quarter-century belts" or belts passed down from generation to generation, they are made with full grain leather.
A good second option is a belt made using top grain leather. These belts can also be worn for many years, but won't develop quite the same patina that is characteristic of full-grain leather products. The use of corrective grains will hide natural imperfections in the cowhide if you are after a less rugged style.
Both full grain leather belts and top grain leather belts can be used for casual wear with jeans, or as work belts for the office with dress pants. If you're after a belt with a vintage feel, look for thick distressed leather belts.
Where can I buy good leather belts?
The best leather belts are made by leather artisans and craftspeople, like Obscure Belts. Aside from the warm, fuzzy feeling you will get from supporting a small business, when you buy from a local maker you are getting a much higher quality product than any big box store will offer. If you're shopping for gifts, these kinds of items are the best presents to give.
As a small batch belt maker, we know that a craftsperson lives and dies by the quality of what they make. We have over 15 years of experience making our cool belts and belt buckles and work directly with a specialty tannery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to develop our distressed and full grain leather hides. When you buy a belt from us, you can be certain it will be the right size, fit your style, and look great around your waist for many years.
Good luck in your search for a new belt!
When you’re looking for a new leather belt, there are several things to consider. You want your belt to be made of the best quality materials and by someone who knows how to work with them well. That might sound like it would cost more than buying an imported bonded or genuine leather belt that is mass-produced at a low price point, but don't worry! We offer thick, high-quality handmade belts at affordable prices right here in our shop. We make everything with full grain or distressed leather in a color to match your style. You can be sure our belts will keep holding your pants up for years.