The most commonly used strap material for belts is leather. Top-grain or full-grain leather is a key “ingredient” of a good quality belt although an attentive production process is also important. In this segment, we explore a variety of leather strap materials and how the material of the strap complements the style of our outfit.
This is a broader, tougher, and stiffer leather and is typically used for belts with a minimum width of 34 mm and above. Being the topmost layer of the calf or cowhide, leather grain, folds, and marks are usually visible. These “imperfections” actually add texture and character to your belt and full-grain leather is prized for its textures and “marks”. Most of the grains and folds are likely to smooth out over time with usage.
Also from the uppermost layer of the hide, top-grain undergoes a buffing process to render a more uniform surface. The result of the buffing process may vary; some processes keep part of the skin structure, grain and folds while some processes include tanning and hot stamping the surface to add grain-like patterns to “hide” the natural characteristics of the leather. The processes are typically considered for enhancing the aesthetics of the leather; for this reason, top-grain leather is usually used by high-end fashion labels that launch new styles every season.
Suede is often used for casual wear: the 30 mm width suede belts complement well with smart-casual and resort-wear, while the 40 mm width suede belts add a sporty touch to jeans and chinos. Suede is a split leather and is thus less durable than full-grain leather. A good quality one usually has a full-grain leather backing such as nubuck for extra strength. Suede leather belts are a must if you own a pair of suede loafers or dress shoes.
Woven with top-grain leather strips, bonded leather strips or even suede, braided leather belts are a good option when you want to keep things simple and unobtrusive. They add a little texture without making an overwhelming statement. Used with a frame-style buckle to make very adjustable belts: you can put the prong in any hole in the braid. Often used as a casual wear accessory, it is, therefore, a price-sensitive accessory item.
For this reason, most of the braided leather belts sold in stores are made with bonded leather. There are varying grades of bonded leather and hence significant price differences in braided belts sold in shops. The weave of the braided belt also impacts the durability of a belt; at 72 Smalldive all our braided belts are either woven in a tubular structure or reinforced with cotton elastic chords. More casual than a flat strip of leather, braided belts should not be worn with formal suits, but complements well with a sports jacket or a linen suit. They are perfect for chinos, jeans, and Bermuda shorts. Braided belts may also be constructed from suede or suede with cotton strips, These belts lend a summer European flair to your outfit. 72 Smalldive’s braided suede belts are lined with a wax coating on its underside for durability.
More durable and elegant than canvas belts, viscose is a plant-based fibre typically made from wood and plant pulp. The viscose strips are usually elastic and braided in large or small weave from 30 mm to 34 mm in widths. The sheen of the material makes it a perfect accessory to match sneakers. All 72 Smalldive viscose weave belts are assembled with top-grain leather finishing for durability and a refined aesthetic.
Materials for belts are aplenty. But if you are choosing a belt that you may wear for work or to spruce up your image, we recommend not exploring further from the above-mentioned strap materials. Many non-natural strap materials such as safety belts, vinyl or boating cords. apart from fashion trends, may leave an unkempt or juvenile touch to your outfit, thus defeating the purpose of putting on a belt in the first place. But if that is a fashion trendy look you are after, by all means, pick the belt that best projects that look!