To put your mind at rest regarding sustainable and ethical in the world of genuine leather, I thought I’d give you a little information about The Belt Makers' ethos.
Me talking ethos at The Slow Fashion Show at Exeter Cathedral, 21.09.2019 (second from left)
Our business is a tiny part of a much bigger whole. We hear many heart-warming stories of favourite belts that have been used by several members, and even generations of the same family, and yet more stories of belts that bear the scuffs, dents and marks of everyday life as they accompany the wearer through college, marriage, children, etc. Those are the standard of belts we make; they last for years and become deeply personal to the owner... and owners.
As makers of naturally tanned leather products, we are proud to use the by-products of another UK industry to prevent incredibly resource-heavy materials going to waste. This in turn prevents new materials being produced to fulfill the same purpose, for a shorter period (due to their limited lifespan) and then produced again.
The raw materials for the belts we make are sourced from the UK wherever possible (leather and brass), and otherwise from UK distributors (stainless steel, threads), in order to keep their travelling footprint as small as possible. All our packaging is fully recyclable/recycled and we are working on further improvements in these areas. Our energy use is minimal and our energy supplier uses renewables only. Oh yes, and by minimal, I mean we could make our belts by candle light if needed... there are no electrical processes in our belt making at all.
We are particularly concerned with the faux leather industry’s heavy chemical processes, used in both the manufacture and its preservation. It is, for the most part, essentially food; being used in a manner that may not give the strength, or length of service, that the naturally and safely, UK tanned leather skins can provide.
Obviously, oil based materials aren’t suitable either, unless recycled, but I haven’t yet heard of a plastic belt with any of these beautifully emotional stories attached to it, or one that can last as long, after daily use over a period of years.
This isn’t to say that a sturdy faux leather couldn’t be produced in the future. Over the course of the next few years, the shape of beef production in the UK will change and so will the progress in faux leather manufacture. At the moment these are too thin and insubstantial for use in the kind of belt we make but we are quietly excited for a greener Mother Earth and expect that technology can - and will - help us create a much better balance between her and us in the future. We’re keeping our eyes peeled and our ears to the ground!
In the meantime we will continue saving resources. We will also continue to be incredibly proud of the fact that our customers choose us to be part of their life story.
Marie, September 2019