Who makes the best leather belt?
There are an estimated 400 million belts sold every year so to determine who makes the best leather belt we firstly need to work out what you are looking for in a belt, what is your style and what you are prepared to spend on a belt. These three factors have the biggest impact on the answer to the question who makes the best leather belt so before we can provide recommendations on who makes the best leather belt we need to understand these topics
What you looking for in a belt impacts what is the best leather belt
Other than the practical act of keeping your pants up the context in which you intend to wear your belt is a key determinant of what you are looking for in a belt. Here are a range of contexts to consider
- Work in a office setting, business casual
- Casual informal setting, lunch on the weekends
- Work in an outdoor or physical labor environment
- Formal context such as a wedding, funeral or black tie event
- Casual, semi-formal such as a fancy dinner
Each of these likely has you wearing different types and styles of clothing so the best leather belt is going to be the one that has the ability to work with the broadest range of styles, outfits and styles and be easy to move between outfits (ie swap in and out of pants easily!)
Best leather belt colours and styles
The safest options colour wise are going to be black, brown and tan. For more casual or even formal (if that’s your style) having a belt that gives you the option of some bright, loud colour is going to give you flexibility.
From a style perspective the more the belt is trying to do the less likely it is to work with whatever the rest of of your outfit is trying to do. If you have lots of fancy stitching, logos, embossing and other decorative features then these will likely clash with whatever you’re wearing or border on inappropriate in some contexts.
Having simple, timeless design for the buckle and strap is going to give you more opportunity to wear the belt on any given day. A big factor in who makes the best leather belt is who makes a belt that can be worn with pretty much anything.
What is your style?
Broadly speaking belts come in 3 different styles so understanding which of these 3 styles is your style day to day will impact who makes the best leather belt
Traditional Leather belts
The traditional style of mens leather belt comes in 3 colours only (black, brown and tan) and uses a traditional buckle called a frame style buckle (the one with a prong that goes through the hole in the belt strap. Best suited for outdoor work or if your style is more country orientated from a style perspective it’s hard to go wrong.
Dress Leather Belt
This more modern style of mens leather belt comes in a broader range of colours including black, brown and tan and typically has a solid buckle that the belt passes through and under to lock into place. Dress belts were previously only used in formal settings but as the office has become less formal and the casual has become more styled dress belts are now worn across a far wider range of contexts including work, weekends, formal and semi-formal.
A fairly recent category (in the many thousand year history of belts) is a style of mens leather belt that exists to carry the logo of the fashion brand that designed it. These belts are an extension of the brand so are typically styled to reflect whatever image they are trying to manufacture and carry prominent if not obtuse use of the brands logo or name. If being a walking billboard is your thing then you will wear this belt with anything as it exists to broadcast that you spent good money on a thing with a logo on it. Understand that the overwhelming cost to make this belt is the money spent marketing it and you are likely buying a lower quality product than what could be bought with the same money.
What are you prepared to spend?
The reality of answering the question ‘who makes the best leather belt?’ is it depends on what you are prepared to spend. This reflects a set of realities that are worth considering
- Higher quality, longer lasting materials cost more money
- More sustainably made products cost more money
- Higher quality manufacturing costs more money
Higher quality, longer lasting materials cost more money
The two primary inputs to a mens leather belt are the buckle and the strap.
High quality buckles made from stainless steel or other hard, strong and non-corrosive materials will cost more as these materials are hard and thus expensive to work with. The majority of buckles found in belts are made with nickel alloys that are cheap and typically coated to make them look a certain way (eg shiny). This coating then disappears over use and time making them look scrappy and worn. If you want your belt to last for a long time you basically want the buckle to be made out of the hardest material you can find. YOKU uses 316 grade stainless steel for this reason.
The second key material in a belt is the leather and this is typically what would make a belt super cheap or more expensive. We have written extensively about leather but the bottom line is leather is a trade off. If you get cheap leather (or something that legally can’t even be called leather) it is going to break, typically in a couple of years. The only option if you want to buy the best mens leather belt is to buy a belt made from Full Grain Leather. Everything will look ok when you buy it but will not last and this will end up costing you more money
Making the best leather belt sustainably costs more money
Environmentally sustainable approaches to materials tend to take more time which translates into higher cost. The most obvious example is the choice to use vegetable tanned leather which makes the best leather belts instead of Chromium tanned.
Also considering the conditions of the people who make the belt and the role the company plays in leaving the world better than they found it impact the total cost of the product. What these companies do is understand that the real cost of NOT operating the right way is an unliveable and inequitable planet. Fashion brands and companies generally needed to take a position and you as a person trying to buy the best leather belt need to do the same.
Bottom line, if it’s cheap it’s probably using cheap materials and made with little regard for the environment or the people making it.
Higher quality manufacturing costs more money
This idea can most easily be explained by a Steve Jobs quote
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
What makes a higher quality product higher quality is the attention to detail through the entire product and manufacturing process.
This will vary from brand to brand as it is in the dozens of small decisions you have to make when creating something, even as simple as a mens leather belt, that ultimately add up to a better product but with a higher cost to manufacturer.
The typical decisions that go into trying to make the best men's leather belt include
- The finish on the metal buckle
- The mechanism that joins the buckle to the strap
- The trade off between aesthetics, functionality and durability
- The stitching on the strap
- The edging on the strap
From our extensive research in the market and understanding of the costs that go into the materials and making of a men’s leather belt you will need to spend at least $100 USD to get a high quality belt.
Our picks for best mens leather belt
Firstly, we can’t in good conscience recommend any cheap mens leather belt. It is more expensive in the long term to use cheap materials. Cheap belts are why 400 million belts are bought each year that don't last more then a few years. There are some high end fashion brands who make high quality belts from rare or expensive materials but these are not typically durable and we believe aren’t good value for money, you’re paying for the marketing, not the product.
Best Traditional Belts
Famous for their long lasting shoes, leather tradition since 1932 and committement to quality they are our pick for someone looking for a more traditional leather belt style.
A relative newcomer but showing unwavering commitment to durability and strong environmental and social advocacy we are massive fans of Mack belts
Best Dress Belts
As a company and brand solely focused on creating the best men's leather belt in the style of a dress belt with our patented buckle mechanism, full grain leather and stainless steel used throughout we are obviously our pick for best mens leather belt in this style.