Maybe you're buying for yourself, maybe for a man in your life but considering these factors will help you buy the best leather belt for men.
At YOKU we learned a lot about what men typically look for in a belt so these insights come from the hundreds of interviews we did. They form the basis for the belt we make but the learnings can be applied even if you don't buy our belt.
The best leather belt for men will last a long time
Most men we interviewed hated or at best didn't like their current belt. It was basically a thing they had and they saw it as something they would then have to replace when it fell apart. A small group of men had found a belt they loved and they now owned for a long time, over 10 years in a lot of cases and there was a mix of love and fear. They loved their belt but dreaded the day it might fall apart and have to be replaced.
Men almost universally see a belt as the type of thing you should only have to buy one or two times in your life. Like a decent leather jacket or a great pair of shoes.
The only way to get a long lasting leather belt for men is to ensure it's made of the most durable materials. Full grain leather belts paired with durable, non-coated metals like stainless steel, brass or titanium are really your only options
Guys really don't want logos on their belts
It was only a very small minority of men who actively wanted branding on their belt. The majority of men we spoke to either tolerated it (at best) or actively looked for belts with no visible branding. It wasn't that men weren't prepared to spend good money on a decent brand. They just didn't want to be a walking billboard.
This was especially true for dress belts where the style typically has a flat metal buckle and fashion brands overwhelming used that as a place to stick a logo.
The best leather belts for men are versatile
When we interviewed men who loved their belt (the minority) they continually told us that they 'wear it with everything'. Basically the belt and buckle were simple enough in their design and materials that they could safely go with pretty much anything the guy put on that day. How this translates for men buying a belt or if you are buying for someone else is to look for classic / timeless designs.
Frame buckles or flat metal buckles, minimal embellishment or decorative stitching and classic colours (black, brown or tan). Very few men we spoke to who loved their belt had any kind of reversible or interchangeable belt. The way they are manufactured traditionally makes it very challenging to make them last a long time. If it moves it breaks and reversible means glueing two straps of thinner leather of different colours, which breaks down within a few years typically.
The best leather belts age well
It's not enough for something to simply be durable (ie not break) it has to get better as it ages. The men who loved their belts spoke about them as if they were old friends. The belt had transcended from a simple functional accessory to an object with emotional durability. We did a whole post on emotionally durable design, it's a fascinating idea, but in short the underlying product doesn't just last a long time, it actually becomes more valuable to the person they longer they have it.
Classic, simple design works well to support this as well as the thing doesn't go out of fashion either.
The brand behind the belt matters
Whilst men don't want visible branding on their belt at all they care about the values and ethos of the company that makes their belt. This is different values for different men but the key factors that continuously came up were
- Workmanship; how well has the belt been made
- Materials; attention to using the best materials available
- Sustainability; The overall environmental credentials of the company and product especially with respect to fast fashion
- Design; How much does the company care about and invest in great design
- Focus; How committed is the brand to creating a leather belt for men for the long term (ie not just another thing they sell)
There is no one best leather belt for men but if you use these 5 factors in your thinking your chances of buying the type of belt you (or he) is still wearing in a decade, wears with 'everything' and thinks of as a old friend are greatly improved. We wrote about our top 3 belts for leather belts made in Australia specifically which could help narrow the list or of course we'd love you to consider our YOKU men's belt