One of the things I love about the internet – who am I kidding, it’s the thing I love – is the fact that my wardrobe is opened to the possibilities the World has to offer.
A fine example of this is Wiley Brothers belts, a company I tracked down this week. Founded by brothers Marcus and Peter Wiley in 1999, and based in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA) they produce hand made belts.
The Wiley brothers grew up on an active horse farm and it is from the craftsmanship involved in the making of equestrian tack and harnesses that they get their inspiration, for both for the materials used and the belting designs. For example the hoof pick belts go through a detailed 15-step process ranging from cutting and sizing to burnishing and stitching. Made of vegetable-tanned English bridal leather, Marcus tells me it’s sourced from the West Midlands and was “absolutely the best I could find”. Indeed, I have been told by those whose knowledge I trust, that English bridle leather is about the best there is for belting.
Made to order they have a fully commercial website and ship internationally. You choose your colour for the leather, from black, dark Havana, mahogany and light Havana (my favourite); you then pick your buckle which is either brass or nickel and of three possible designs, a traditional buckle, the Hoof pick and the Slip Cinch – which is the one I’m going for.
To my mind distinctly American, my favourite is the Slip Cinch in light Havana which has a simple elegance about it, and a casual summery feel. It certainly makes a difference from all the mass manufactured preppy grosgrain belts which will start to make an appearance as summer approaches.
The late Duke of Windsor was of course famous for having his jackets made in London and his trouser made in the US. While not quite pants across the sea, living in London I love the idea that a piece of small scale crafted America is now so obtainable, when in any other age it would have been beyond my physical reach.